This month I first noticed that two of the chickens had dull looking combs and some ratty looking feathers. They did not act sickly and were eating and socializing as normal. Then I noticed the hen house was full of feathers every morning. Now I see they are REALLY beginning to molt. The new feathers are present but are only “pin feathers” at this time. They are short, stubby, and look funny. The chickens that are molting are having a “bad hair day” to say the least.
During molt they no longer lay eggs either. This is because they are using the protein to grow feathers instead.
I have no real control over this process but I can help the chickens get through it better.
I added food grade diatomaceous earth to the hen house bedding to reduce the chances of parasites. The growing pin feathers are sometimes painful and irritating. I want to make sure they do not have to deal with itchy mites or other parasites at the same time. My research suggested adding more protein to their diet. Therefore they also received treats of high protein meal worms and some cat food. Yep cat food turns out to be a good protein treat for chickens. The high fat and protein content helps the feathers grow better.