Well I don’t have a definitive answer for this question.
This is due to the fact that there are many reasons for chicken to loose feathers.
Chicken loose feathers as a result of factors like attack from external parasites or predators.
If you have all the safety conditions in check then you should not be having sleepless nights.
Moulting in chicken
What is moulting you ask? Moulting is the process by which chicken lose their feathers either by plucking them themselves or through shedding.
You don’t have to worry when you are cleaning your poultry house and collect tons of feathers. It is a healthy process and they regrow in the fullness of time.
Moulting is a healthy process for the chicken and normally takes place once in a period of 12 months.
One of the biggest misconception to moulting is that if they shed feathers they are old and put up for sale as ex layers.
The best way to know the age of a bird is to check the length of its fifth toe that protrudes above the stability toe that normally grow at the rear of the leg.
The loss of feathers is a gradual process and normally start form the head, neck, breast, wings and the tail.
Feathers will also regrow in the same order from the head to tail.
During this period of moulting you will notice a reduction in egg production but this will improve as soon as the feathers regrow.
Chicken normally give more emphasis towards the regrowth of the feathers this explains why there will be reduced egg production in layers.
Moulting can normally last for a period of weeks or months depending on the breed of each hen.
Remember moulting can occur at any stage of a hen’s development.
During moulting for mature cockerels you might notice a loss in weight so don’t be alarmed in some cases the cockerel might be infertile during the moulting period.
Types of moulting
There are two types of moulting.
- Natural moulting and
- Artificial moulting.
In layers or hens in production moulting normally indicates an end to the hen’s production cycle or laying.
Remember this does not mean an end to laying forever.
The chicken will resume production at the end of moulting.
Natural moulting can be induced by
- Physical exhaustion
Forced, induced or artificial moulting
Forced or induce moulting is when you as the farmer takes deliberate measures to enhance or quicken the moulting process.
This is so as to make the hens start laying in the long run boosting the production of the farm and help in gaining weight for market bound birds.
Artificial moulting is achieved by introducing mild environmental discomforts like
- Decrease in lighting
- Insufficient feeds
You need to provide food rich in protein during this process since it is vital in the development of feathers by the chicken.
Source LAMWA VET CARE