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Young Hens and first Molt

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey All

I am very new to raising chickens.  I have 3 wonderful gals that are producing eggs everyday day.  They are getting between 14 to 16 hours of light via sunlight and artificial lighting.

 

My questions are;

1. When should/will my hens start their first molt?  In other words, if I keep the lights on them thorough out the fall and winter will they molt on their own in the spring?

2. If I shut down the artificial lighting will it throw them into a molt?

3. If decreasing their exposure to light, will they automatically start a molt, and if so is it to close to winter to start a molt?

 

I have other questions, but I want to hear from all of you on the above questions because some of my other questions may be answered or I might have different questions based on your answers.

 

Thanks for all the wonderful information I have been gleaning from this forum?

post #2 of 8

1.  I don't light my coops, but generally, birds molt at around 18 months.  I have had some 9 month old pullets molt.  I've been told by those that do light their coops that it doesn't stop molting.

 

2.  Yes.  Chickens are creatures of habit, and any change, no matter how small, can affect laying.

 

3.  Yes, molting is triggered off of daylight - so if you decrease daylight, they will molt. (assuming they are in the correct age range)  I've had hens molt in the worst of winter, they just snuggle up to a fluffy buddy.

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.



Join us for the 7th Annual Easter Hatchalong!
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1074649/the-7th-annual-byc-easter-hatch-a-long/0_50

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Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.



Join us for the 7th Annual Easter Hatchalong!
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1074649/the-7th-annual-byc-easter-hatch-a-long/0_50

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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks Happy Chooks

Your answe to question #1 causes another question. I know continuing with the lights won't cause a molt, if I turn the light off suddenly will it throw them into a premature molt?
post #4 of 8

Sudden drop in light could well cause a molt.

 

I've always used supplemental lighting just starting the 3rd fall now, started ramping up the light about mid September(darn didn't write it down!).

Have had some birds not molt until spring and/or summer,

some it doesn't seem to effect and they are molting now.

 

Will take me a few more years, and better record keeping, to know just how it effects things.

 

 

Here's some of my notes, accuracy is questionable:

Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.

Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown.  Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.


Edited by aart - 10/17/15 at 5:05am

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #5 of 8

aart gave great information.

 

Reason #1 why I don't add lighting..............it triggers the automatic door sensor.  Too many critters around here looking for a chicken dinner.

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.



Join us for the 7th Annual Easter Hatchalong!
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1074649/the-7th-annual-byc-easter-hatch-a-long/0_50

Reply

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.



Join us for the 7th Annual Easter Hatchalong!
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1074649/the-7th-annual-byc-easter-hatch-a-long/0_50

Reply
post #6 of 8

If you have pullets that hatched in the spring, they usually begin laying around 5-6 months of age, in the fall of their first year.  They will typically continue to lay until the following fall without supplemental lighting . . . that is, they'll lay for about 12 continuous months.  They will usually stop laying and molt during their 2nd autumn, when they're around 18 months old.  

 

I've never used supplemental lighting, but this egg-laying pattern has played out consistently with my pullets every year.  They begin laying in the fall, and lay all fall and winter without supplemental light.  This pattern probably doesn't hold true for every breed of chicken, but I've observed this with the following breeds:  RIR, barred plymouth rock, wyandotte, Easter eggers, dominique, black australorp, and buff orpington. 

 

As noted above, this doesn't apply to older hens.  Without supplemental light, my 2-year old hens take 2-4 months off during the fall and winter.  However, as I have a mixed flock, their molting breaks are staggered, which usually means at least some of my older flock is laying.   


Edited by song of joy - 10/17/15 at 9:12am
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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post #7 of 8

Hi All,

 

For some reason I can't post a new thread, so I choose this one as what I think is closest to my situation.

 

I have four hens ranging from 8-9 months old.  They have a coop in my backyard and 'free-range' all day at will.  They have been very happy and active every since we've had them.  Penny (the Speckled Sussex) has been normally very friendly and usually the top of the pecking order.  However, we noticed several days ago that Penny had lost some feathers around the head/neck area though seemed to be acting normally initially.  Over the next few days her comb became 'less red' and the other ladies began to peck on her.  She, for the past few days, has not left the coop and just sits in the doorway area.  She kinda puffs up and sits, not aggressive but makes some small squeaks when I'm close by.  I have seen her walk down to get food and possibly water, though she actively eats some tuna form my hand.  Poop appears to be normal, not sure if she has been laying because I can't tell the eggs apart. 

 

They all have access to pellet feed for layers, water, and oyster shells.  Each day I throw out some cracked corn or wild bird seeds.  The weather very recently has gotten super cold and obviously the daylight is much much shorter these days.  I do not have a light for them. 

 

Can this be molting, especially at this age?  Maybe a 'soft-molt' as this site describes: http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html   ?

 

Her inactivity worries me, not sure what do do.  I've brought her in the house for a little bit, it that bad?  The house is nice and warm and its very cold outside (I'm in Montana and its been hovering between 0-10F day and night.  She seems so inactive and such that I've seen her 'shiver' a little bit (if chickens even do that). 

 

 

 

Any input would help, thanks in advance!

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblah View Post
 

Hi All,

 

For some reason I can't post a new thread, so I choose this one as what I think is closest to my situation.

 

I have four hens ranging from 8-9 months old.  They have a coop in my backyard and 'free-range' all day at will.  They have been very happy and active every since we've had them.  Penny (the Speckled Sussex) has been normally very friendly and usually the top of the pecking order.  However, we noticed several days ago that Penny had lost some feathers around the head/neck area though seemed to be acting normally initially.  Over the next few days her comb became 'less red' and the other ladies began to peck on her.  She, for the past few days, has not left the coop and just sits in the doorway area.  She kinda puffs up and sits, not aggressive but makes some small squeaks when I'm close by.  I have seen her walk down to get food and possibly water, though she actively eats some tuna form my hand.  Poop appears to be normal, not sure if she has been laying because I can't tell the eggs apart. 

 

They all have access to pellet feed for layers, water, and oyster shells.  Each day I throw out some cracked corn or wild bird seeds.  The weather very recently has gotten super cold and obviously the daylight is much much shorter these days.  I do not have a light for them. 

 

Can this be molting, especially at this age?  Maybe a 'soft-molt' as this site describes: http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html   ?

 

Her inactivity worries me, not sure what do do.  I've brought her in the house for a little bit, it that bad?  The house is nice and warm and its very cold outside (I'm in Montana and its been hovering between 0-10F day and night.  She seems so inactive and such that I've seen her 'shiver' a little bit (if chickens even do that). 

 

 

 

Any input would help, thanks in advance!

I've read more and more about birds molting at around 9 months......so not unheard of, I had one do it last winter.

They don't feel so good during molt, the new pinfeathers can be uncomfortable, so they may rest more and not be as active.

Give them some extra protein to grow out those new feathers.


Edited by aart - 11/28/15 at 10:46am

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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