Several people have inquired, so here is a quick update on my molting hens. The girls are doing okay, or at least they're not completely miserable. It is normal for them to molt at this time of year. It doesn't make much sense to me, as the nights are quite cold and I wish they were all fully feathered, but this is considered normal. Egg production began tapering off quickly in October. I haven't retrieved an egg since November 3. The same three hens that formerly gave 15-20 eggs per week are now on hiatus while their feathers grow in. It takes all their energy to accomplish this. In the photo above, you can see tiny quills poking through Crocus's head and neck. They resemble white needles against her darker feathers.
Daisy's tail feathers are growing in now and I think she is approaching the end of her molt. Each hen begins and ends the molt at her own pace. Squill, who preferred to not be photographed today, still has bare skin patches on her neck and shoulders.
Meanwhile, we've winterized the coop by covering it with sheet plastic and plexiglass. The girls have plenty of space to stay out of the wind and precipitation, yet they have the freedom to wander outside when it's sunny and warm. They have open water in their heated water dish, and we've increased their protein intake with sunflower seeds as treats.