So your girls have stopped laying? It’s August and some of this springs batch of babies who just started laying have now some have stopped.
After the summer solstice in June the days start to get shorter and this triggers in the girls into a natural part of their yearly cycle, molt.
- 1.(of an animal) shed old feathers, hair, or skin, or an old shell, to make way for a new growth.
“the adult birds were already molting into their winter shades of gray”
- 1. a loss of plumage, skin, or hair, especially as a regular feature of an animal’s life cycle.
You may see some extra feathers on the ground and be concerned about a predator or some other stressor (which is always a concern) but more likely it is the time of year for the girls to get ready for winter.
Some chickens will molt slowly, losing only and few feathers at a time and growing in new plumage over several months. Other chickens will have a “hard Molt” meaning they lose a LOT of feather all at once and look horrible but they usually come through molt faster and will start laying faster.
What can you do? You can support this yearly time of transition with nutrition help, protection from elements, and not making fun of the poor naked girls.
Nutritionally, hens in their molt can utilize more protein, and less of the egg making support we provide the rest of the year. There are products like “feather fixer” from Nutrena, Flock raiser from Purina, Chicken Broiler from King, or turkey starter from Modesto that can serve this purpose for you depending on your needs and wants for your family.
In Southern California we are certainly not cold in August and September so if your girls start in this time period providing shade from the sun is more important than if we were in the Midwest or far North and the girls started molting later in the year. Without their feathers they could use additional warmth through the molt if there were a cold snap.
Mostly just understand that this is normal, and look forward to new pretty plumage.