Category Animal Care

Chicken Moulting


As the days become shorter and we head into winter, your hens will loose feathers that will be replaced by new ones. This is called ‘moulting’. During this change, hens will often take a break from egg-laying; as their reproductive system takes a rest so their body can build up a store of nutrients for laying eggs during the rest of the year. A late ‘hard’ moult means they quickly return to laying eggs. An early, slow ‘soft’ moult means the hens won’t lay for a longer period.

Help Your Hens Through A Moult

There are a few ways you can make sure your hens come through a moult as healthy and comfortable as possible. Moulting always starts at the head and moves down the body. Observe your hens and when you see they are beginning to moult, put into practice the following tips:

  • avoid handling them during this time as their feather follicles are very sensitive, even painful
  • make sure they have good protection from the wind and cold weather

Deep Litter In The Chook House

A chicken coop deep litter system is a compost heap inside your coop, where chook poo is deposited under where the chickens roost; or in the chicken run. Your chicken house should allow quite a bit of airflow. Closed housing risks building up ammonia levels that are harmful to chooks.

How It Works

Carbon-rich materials are layered and mixed with nutrientrich chook droppings forming a composting litter. Chickens dig through the litter, eating worms, slaters and other insects. The scratching and foraging activity turns the compost and can reduce insect pests such as lice and mites.

Animal Care: Summer Chook Care

The most critical considerations when looking after your flock over the coming summer months are the provision of shade and cool water. It’s also a good idea to keep your chickens’ stress levels as low as possible and avoid handling them.

The Summer Hen House

The chicken house should mimic the forest as a safe and social resting place. Whether you have their coop (or tractor) placed in an orchard or a quiet corner of the backyard, in the height of summer special care of your flock is needed.

Chickens cannot sweat, so create good shade and a place for them to dust bathe. Dust helps them to cool and cleanse at the same time. Watch for signs of heat stress: walking around with their beaks open, holding their wings open away from their body, or lying on the ground with their wings open. Put up beach umbrellas for extra solid shade in the midday sun.