Another of chickens has began to molt. It always mystifies me that chickens will generally molt in fall or winter. They are loosing their feathers on when the temps are some of the coldest of the year.
One of my chickens is at that stage when she has almost no functional feathers. It was only 2 degrees out this morning when I opened the door on the coop. She has lost most of her old feathers. Her new feathers are just starting to come in, but for the most part are still in the covering that keeps them tight like porcupine quills. In the next few days the covering will fall off and the feathers will grow and bulk out to keep her warm. In the meantime she will be dependent on the warmth in the coop that the other birds generate at night and the sun during the day.
I suspect that mother nature is combining two periods of dysfunction into one season. What I mean by all of this is that chickens lay less and even stop laying eggs as days get shorter. The same is true of when a bird is molting they will quite laying and redirect all their energy into making new feathers. If there is going to be an egg laying hiatus all the necessary chores that tax a bird are happening at the same time.
This stage of what appears to be not enough feathers to stay warm causes my human empathy to kick in. I worry that they will get cold that will compromise their health. I carefully pick birds that are cold weather hearty breeds. I have gone through winters before with my birds so understand how this all works. But no matter I still look at them and worry that they will get cold. Grow feathers grow.