The girls are going into molt. It’s early for them to lose their summer feathers and get ready for cold weather, but everything about this year, weather-wise, has been topsy-turvy.
How a hen molts is as varied as their personalities. Sometimes, it seems as if the hen huffs up and shakes and all of her feathers come off at once. Other hens lose their feathers in patches. like Agnes and Philomena, who are looking scraggly. It might take a month for those two to shed all of the old feathers.
I know that Twinkydink is molting, her black feathers are everywhere, and yet she looks as sleek and glossy as ever. Some girls are like that. Never a bad hair day for her.
Some hens don’t molt until the cold weather settles in. They’ll look partly naked, their skin will show, and you’ll worry about them. Don’t. They always seem to do fine. New feathers will appear. The feathers will look like porcupine quills, and the hen will be all prickly with them. It looks uncomfortable, way worse then stubble after shaving, but the chickens don’t seem to mind.
Hen keepers never look forward to the molt. The coop is a mess of feathers and the hens stop laying. Factory farms try to control it. They’ll withhold food to try to get all of the hens to molt at once. Chemical companies are developing additives to start the molt. Yet another reason to keep your own hens. I’d rather do without eggs than have them come from those conditions.
Chickens aren’t the only ones that grow a new coat for winter. Candy sheds out her old fur and will have a much warmer wrapper for the winter. Like the hens, the process is already starting. Just look at those tufts of fur coming off. What a bad hare day (ouch, sorry for that terrible joke – this heat is affecting my sense of humor!)