The chickens yards are littered with feathers, but it’s nothing to be worried about! The flock is starting it’s yearly molt.

Feathers become old and worn as time goes on thus they lose their ability to insulate and need to be replaced. Every year around this time the chickens start to lose their old feathers and grow new ones to prepare for the winter. It’s something all birds do, from penguins to ostriches.

New feathers are very neat looking, wrapped up in a membrane that looks like paper. It allows the new feather to push through the skin. Once the new feather is through, the membrane over it is removed by the bird as it grooms.

Molting isn’t painful, but it is uncomfortable and very physically demanding, so the chickens tend to be crabbier during this time. Egg production is also down because they’re focusing their energy on growing new feathers.

I’ve been supplementing their diet with extra protein in the form of cat food. It may seem strange but chickens are naturally omnivores and prefer meat whenever they can get it. In the wild they eat small birds and lizards, even actively hunting for them. You might not expect it but chickens are fierce predators!

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