BDN interviews Coffin about molting season for chickens

Donna Coffin, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for an article about molting season for chickens. Molting, the natural shedding of old feathers and re-growth of new ones, is something every chicken experiences, and the process can leave birds with loose scraggly-looking feathers or bald patches, according to the article. “It’s a natural process that chickens have always had,” according to Coffin. “It’s a time they recognize a change in daylight, so whether the chicken is in Florida or in Maine, if there is shortening hours of daylight, they will go into molt. It has nothing to do with air temperature.” If a poultry keeper wants their chickens to keep their feathers, Coffin suggests using supplemental lights before the birds begin to molt. She said giving chickens 14 to 16 hours of light — natural or combined with an artificial source — per day is ideal. She recommends putting the light on a timer so it turns on automatically in the morning and shuts off once the sun is up. “Let night come naturally,” she said. “That way they can know it’s going to get darker and they can start to find their roosting spots and go about their evening business.” Chickens going through molt can slack off in egg production, but Coffin said it will pick up again once they are through the molting process.