Molting time for our chickens is upon us again, and that means a lot of moody and grouchy hens and roosters. And who can blame them? They’ve not only lost most of their beautiful feathers, and some are almost naked, but their body is craving extra protein during a time when they’re fewer bugs to catch and the grass is sparse. And they can be downright mean with each other. Their body language says, “Don’t touch me! “
Molting time is the loss of old feathers that will be replaced by new feathers. You will know it’s molting season when there’s an overabundance of loose feathers in your chicken coops and lots, you would swear someone had a pillow fight.
Another way you will know "the molt is on" is when some of the gals are looking a little naked or have a lot less feathers than normal. You may see a lot more skin than you’re used to seeing, or worst yet, a completely naked chicken. It depends on how serious a molt your girls and boys are having.
We have breeder flocks and while going through a molt the roosters can wreak havoc on the girls back. If you breed your hens and you begin to see naked backs, do your girls a favor and take the rooster out for a while. Once a hen has been fertilized by the rooster, the eggs they lay will be fertilized for up to 2 weeks after being with a rooster. A little time apart can only help with the stress of the molt. They will be happier to see each other after they begin to heal.
The pin feathers are very sensitive during the molt and can cause your chickens pain if being touched. It is worth noting that the pin feathers can bleed profusely if broken during this time, because the tissue within the follicle of an emerging feather contains a rich supply of blood. You can generally spot an injured shaft by the presence of blood.