Every year the feathered gang have a molt but sometimes its harsher. The damaged and worn previous year feathers are renewed and ready for winter.
Sometimes the molt is so harsh, as is the case often with chickens, the regrowth resources so much calcium, any lacking it their diet is taken up from their bones, with damaging consequences of brittle bones and brittle egg shells. The eggs can break inside whilst being laid, and this can be a death sentence. Dramatic but quite common. So free ranging for calcium rich grass and those amazing vitamin and mineral rich dandelions are a must.
The garden is strewn with tiny white down feathers from preening. The ones you would stuff a cushion with. I could collect them but this year I cannot find the time to clean and sterile. However they will head to the composter and have a use fertilizing the garden.
The larger feathers I do keep, as these were hard work to look after, grow and loose. Beautiful structures. A reminder too of others who are no longer here and have flown over the Rainbow Bridge. Happy memories.