My hens started molting in the late autumn when the day length got too short for egg laying, which is kind of handy because birds don’t lay eggs when they are in full molt anyway. The downside was that I have such a small flock (four birds) that I had to use some supplemental heat in the coop to keep them alive until they got more feathers!
They are fully feathered again and the days are getting longer. The sun is setting at about 5:30, but it is still bitterly cold. This is the coldest part of the year for us. I don’t use artificial light in the coop. I want my chickens to sleep more when conditions are more crowded. I don’t want them awake getting bored and thinking about bad things to peck like each other or their own eggs.
Since they are both pets and egg and manure producers for my little farm in town, I don’t mind if they have a couple of “unproductive” months each year. I am in this for the long haul. These girls are never going to end up as stewed chicken, so they have a few more years to lay their eggs.
I noticed for the last three or four weeks that the girls have been hitting the oyster shell pretty hard. I’ve had to refill the quart jar in the feeder several times. In the last two weeks, the shavings in the nesting boxes had been disturbed. Last week, I came into the coop one evening to turn on the heater and found that they had been fighting over one of the boxes and had knocked off the front of it! I brushed out the dusty old shavings and replaced them with a fresh supply.
I’m going to keep better track of egg production this year. I have a chicken journal that I started a few years ago that I will use for the purpose. Now I have one more marker to gauge the coming of Spring! Begonia