Every aspect of chicken keeping is a learning curve for me, and there are far more aspects than I ever thought to keeping them happy and healthy. My egg production took a nose dive a few weeks ago, which I put down to the heat, stress, and just one of those things. However, it hasn't picked up and I was beginning to get concerned that there was something that I was doing to stop the eggs being produced.
Not only were the chickens not laying, but they are also very quiet, which is odd, as they make a huge amount of noise from morning until night. Google is usually my saviour, however, on this occasion there was hundreds of things listed, which could be affecting their mood and egg laying abilities. Then the feathers begun to appear, not just one or two, but hundreds, everywhere.
The orchards look like someone has emptied a pillow all over the floor, at first I thought the chickens had been attacked and that all I had left was feathers. But the chickens were still there, still quiet, but with less feathers. Everything was getting far too confusing, so back I went to my office and Google. You would be amazed at the strange things that I Google, and on this occasion I typed..."feathers everywhere help"....and if by magic the answer appeared...my chickens were moulting!!!
I didn't have a clunk, clunk, clunk moment as I had no idea that chickens moult, why they moult, or how this affected eggs, but after 20 minutes of reading I felt better informed. Apparently all chickens moult, every year, and whilst they are moulting they don't lay eggs!!! Now this process can take up to 16 weeks, which is quite a period of time to have walking, eating machines, and no eggs!! But hey, its all part of being a farmer and an unexpected one at that!