I’m quite eclectic when it comes to hens for our egg production factories. My only requirement is that they show up on time for work and work until their shift is over. They are allowed as many breaks as they need and eating on the job is acceptable. Socializing is encouraged and they are even allowed to bring their kids to work. Fraternizing in the work place is tolerated to a point. I even allow “streaking” during certain times of the year……
During late Summer and early Fall you really have to watch these ladies…..they like to streak…boogedy, boogedy. Well, maybe only in the eyes of those that understand that chickens “molt”. Molting is a normal thing for chickens, they go through this to replace broken feathers, stained and or compromised feathers. The feathers on any bird is paramount to their survival. Feathers are the first line of defense against rain, cold and heat. Molting does make for some strange looking pitiful ladies though.
Chickens will go through several moltings during their lifetime and there are several triggers that can cause it. In our flock it occurs when the days are just starting to get shorter so there is a decrease in the amount of natural light they are getting. This is a natural cause and because it occurs late Summer or early Fall it gives the hens ample time to grow new feathers to get them through the cold winter months. Unfortunately in the commercial egg industry they will do a forced molting on the flock….they withhold feed for anywhere from 7 to 14 days causing stress and sending them into molting. They do this for enhanced egg production. I’m not a fan of those practices at all !!
Since feathers are comprised of 80-85% protein, we change their diet during this time to increase their protein intake. We feed them all the dirty or cracked eggs for the protein and the calcium. If several are molting at the same time we change their feed to a higher protein feed. Here is one of our Golden Comet hens that is getting her feathers back in from a hard molt. You can tell she is getting all she needs in her diet by how uniform the feathers are coming in. She is spry and happy!!
They always remind me when they run across the yard of the Ray Stevens song The Streak…..I changed the words a little……
“Howdy, everyone, this is your action news reporter with all the news
That is news across the farm, on the scene at the garden spot. There
seems to have been some disturbance here. Pardon me, Madam, did you see
Yeah, I did. I’s standin’ over there by the maters, and here she
Come, running through the pole beans, through the fruits and vegetables
Nekkid as a jay bird. And I hollered over t’ Kent said, “Don’t
Look, Kent!” But it’s too late, he’d already been mooned.
Here she comes, boogedy boogedy
There she goes, boogedy boogedy
And she ain’t wearin’ no clothes
Oh, yes, they call her the Streak boogedy boogedy
Fastest thing on two feet
She’s just as proud as she can be
Of her anatomy
She goin’ give us a peek”……Ode to Ray Stevens song The Streak
So, when you come out to the farm this Fall and you get mooned by one of the hens , remember it’s all natural and part of the process to get you the very best eggs around!!