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When do chickens molt?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am brand new to the forum and this is my first time posting.  My 12 year old son got 12 red pullets from the local tractor supply this may.  They are locked up at dark every night otherwise they are free range. One was killed 2 weeks ago by a predator so now we are down to 11.  Today i came home to find lots of feathers in an area under 2 pine trees where the chickens like to hang out.  Could they be molting or maybe attached by something?  They are only 6 months old. I am also wondering if we should get a rooster.  A freind of mine said a rooster would protect the hens but then I heard from someone else the rooster may pick on the hens!  UGH!  Not sure what to do!  I would appreciate some advice.  Thanks!
smile

post #2 of 4

Molting occurs when the daylight shortens (usually autumn) at about 18 months.  However, chickens can molt any time.  Stress can cause a molt.  Some egg producers even 'force molt'. 

It could be that the same predator that got the first one, is back for more.  Perhaps you could devise a secure run or pen -- like the one made of PVC and protect your chickens while they free-range.  Can you check the chickens to see if one has feather loss that looks like something was trying to grab it?

And  WELCOME to the forum!


Edited by ChicKat - 11/15/11 at 5:00am

"Was dich nicht umwirft, macht dich starker"   "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."-Friedrich Nietzsche 

In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it. - Pasternak

 

BYC page:  http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chickats-page

BYC blog of sorts  http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/jottings-ii

Cream Legbar Club  www.creamlegbarclub.com

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"Was dich nicht umwirft, macht dich starker"   "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."-Friedrich Nietzsche 

In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it. - Pasternak

 

BYC page:  http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chickats-page

BYC blog of sorts  http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/jottings-ii

Cream Legbar Club  www.creamlegbarclub.com

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post #3 of 4

frow  Welcome to the forum!  frow  Glad you joined us, but wish it were for a happier occasion!  frow

I think these two articles give good information on molting, including some good drawings so you know what to look for.  Chickens can go through minimolts, too.  My first year pullets usually skip the molt and continue to lay through their first winter, not molting until the followingt fall, but ad Chikcat said, they can molt at any time.  The normal reason is the shorter days of light, but there can be other causes.

Mississippi State describes molting
http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html

Kansas State feather loss
http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/lvstk2/mf2308.pdf

If they are molting, they are not going to drop all their feathers in only one place.  The coop where they sleep should be full of feathers too.  I'd be real concerned about a predator.
I really wish you luck on this one!  And once again,   frow

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #4 of 4

In my experience the major molts( as opposed to those that happen as they mature from chicks to pullets) are, generally, around the anniversaries of their laying their first egg.   This is kind of a rule of thumb, one that all birds don't seem to follow, but is usually the case.

I live on 7.5 acres in the western Catskill foothills where I have a 3200 sq.ft veggie garden, 100-plant blueberry patch as well as strawberry and raspberry patches, 4 cats and over 4 dozen chickens: Black Stars, RIR's,  EE's, Brown leghorns, BR's, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australops (including one very happy EE rooster) plus 16 guinea fowl. I've been keeping chickens since I was in high school...



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I live on 7.5 acres in the western Catskill foothills where I have a 3200 sq.ft veggie garden, 100-plant blueberry patch as well as strawberry and raspberry patches, 4 cats and over 4 dozen chickens: Black Stars, RIR's,  EE's, Brown leghorns, BR's, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australops (including one very happy EE rooster) plus 16 guinea fowl. I've been keeping chickens since I was in high school...



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