Why do chickens molt?

Has your egg production slowed down or come to a stop?  If yes, then your hens maybe molting.  This is when they shed old feathers and grow new ones.  So why do chickens molt and what can you do?  Or do you need to do anything?
why do chickens molt
Instead of converting protein into the egg whites you cook into delicious, nutritious breakfasts, your hens use dietary protein to make new feathers instead. It’s these fresh feathers that will keep them warm through winter.
Feathers are made of keratin, as are beaks, talons, and even human hair and fingernails. Keratin is a very strong, lightweight and fibrous protein.
In humans, protein deficiencies cause hair loss and soft, brittle nails, so it’s easy to understand why dietary protein is so important for a chicken during a molt. The health of new feathers depends on today’s diet, and those feathers have to last until next year’s molt.
There are many ways that you can help supplement a hen’s diet and increase their protein intake to ensure healthy feather re-growth.

1. Free-Range the Yard

Free ranging can help molting hens get the extra protein needed during molts. The creepy crawlies and flying things living in your lawn are all animal protein. Chickens are not vegetarians.

2. Enlist Garden Clean-Up Help

As you clean out the garden and turn the soil, employ your less-feathered friends for help. They’ll gobble up all the bugs and plants you unearth.

3. Feed Cooked Eggs

Your homestead flock supplies you and your family with food, so consider sharing the wealth. Whip up some warm scrambled eggs and feed them back to the molting hens. They love eggs!

4. Bulk-Order Mealworms

Freeze-dried mealworms are packed with protein, they last longer than living mealworms, and the best part is, they don’t squirm. If you order them in bulk, you can save some cash. Feed them to your chickens as treats, sprinkle on a scrambled egg ration, or scatter them for free-ranging fun.

5. Cut Carbs and Scratch

If you aren’t able to supplement your flock’s diet with extra protein, at least temporarily, stop supplementing with high-carb kitchen scraps, like breads and cereals, and eliminate the use of chicken scratch. Chickens are volume eaters; if they are filled with scratch and other empty carbs, they won’t eat enough protein from feed rations or other sources.

Learn More

If you are interested, make sure to check out the Homesteaders section on Amazon. Here, you can find books and guides on how to easily homestead and tips on how to do it better.


The Eyerly Family is a tight knit family from Texas. Married for 10 years Dane and Deena are the parents to six awesome kids! In 2021 the Eyerly's are leaving normal life behind to travel full-time throughout the United States in their Double Decker Bus which has been converted to a tiny home. They've been featured in Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Style, Medium, and Latestly. Learn more about The Eyerly's here.


  1. I had no idea chicken scratch wasn’t as heathy as it looks. Thanks for sharing. I have all my original girls starting to molt. I’ll start feeding them some eggs.

  2. essentialhomestead@gmail.com

    You’re welcome Sonia. Good luck with the molt.