Once a year in fall, chickens shed all their old feathers and grow new ones. They generally stop laying when this happens.
(In fact, many commercial egg farms slaughter their hens at their first molt, because it’s not economical to keep feeding a hen that isn’t laying. Other, less humane commercial facilities starve their hens to put them through a force molt.)
Chickens don’t go through a “real” molt in their first year, so this is the first molt I’ve seen. Ethel has opted to go first, leaving handfuls of blonde feathers in the coop and nest box.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but it looks like they’ve been having a pillow fight in there. All those little white bits are shed feathers.
They have gone from laying 3-4 eggs a day to laying 1-2. But the fewer eggs they lay, the larger the eggs tend to be.
They used to lay size Medium eggs (around 50 grams). Most recipes are written for Large or Extra Large eggs. I had to adjust the number of eggs I used in baking – if the recipe called for two, I would use three.
Suddenly the eggs are all Large and Extra Large. (I’m still waiting for a Jumbo.)
Oddly, I just realized that I haven’t gotten a double-yolker in a really long time. That’s to be expected, but I’m a little sad about it.
(By the way, when I bought my yarn scale, I never thought I would be using it to weigh eggs. Life can take you in some pretty strange directions.)
Poor Ethel is looking really shabby. Periodically she shakes herself like a dog, and feathers come flying off her. I hope she re-grows some feathers on the bald spot at the nape of her neck!