During a molt, a chicken begins to shed feathers from the head and neck, and then works her way down the body across the breast, back, wings and tail. Some ladies lose only a few feathers at a time while others look like they suddenly dropped their coats overnight.
Since a chicken puts so much of her protein reserves toward replacing her feathers, egg production (another process that demands a lot of protein) drops temporarily or even stops completely during a molt.
Even though your chickens may not be laying as much, it’s more important than ever to make sure they’re properly fed and have enough protein to get them through their molts.
For hens going through hard molts, it might be helpful to amp up the protein in their feed to 20 or 22 percent. If you’re mixing your own feed, you can do this by adding more servings of high-protein grains and seeds, like triticale and sesame.
For hard or soft molts, it’s also a good idea to supplement your flock’s daily feed with high-protein treats in the form of black oil sunflower seeds or dried mealworms. Use common sense when spoiling your girls with dried mealworms; the ultra-high protein content (around 50 percent) means it’s easy to overfeed when you see them all excited and eager.