Part of a hen’s natural reproductive cycle. After laying eggs for about a year, a
hen loses her feathers and rests for a few weeks as new feathers grow in. This
is called molting, or a molt, and it usually happens at the beginning of
winter. On factory farms, hens are subjected to forced molting, where farm operators
cause this process to happen rapidly by depriving hens of food and water for
several days and altering the schedule of light and darkness in the confinement
building. This way, all the hens molt simultaneously and over a very short time
period.