17-18 weeks - feathers everywhere. First molt, then eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Faracas, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. Faracas

    Faracas In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2010
    Hello BYC,

    I have a mixed group in my coup. 3 banties that are of age and have been giving me eggs for a month or so, and 4 others (RIR, BR, BA, EE) that were hatched in late March. My three little girls have not been laying in the past week, although I just moved/rearranged the coop and they might be adjusting. This morning I go out ot the coup, and both coup and run are littered with feathers, from everybody. They're all fine, no predators - just getting scraggly. Is it normal for everyone to molt at once, and is it normal for my younger girls to molt before they have laid their first eggs?

  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Free Ranging Staff Member Premium Member 9 Years

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Yes, it's normal. They lose a lot of feathers when they are getting their adult feathers in.
  3. dee88

    dee88 Chirping

    Jun 26, 2010
    What I have read is that chickens usually molt when the light source starts to dwindle and the days begin to get shorter (around September depending on where you live) This is a signal to the birds that it's time to prepare for the coming cold weather. It usually takes around 14 to 16 weeks under normal conditions. BUT if a layer molts early and only after laying eggs for a few months, then it could take up to 6 months to get their new feathers. What I've read is that a good layer will lay eggs for a year or more before their 1st molting process. The best layers molt late and fast. The poorest layers start early and molt slowly. Usually a hen stops laying during the molting or at least slows down. Also, molting out of season can be a sign of disease or stress, so maybe moving or redoing your coop stressed them out. If this is the case, a stress-induced molt is usually partial and doesn't cause a drop in laying.(or so the book says) Your young chickens shouldn't molt until after they have laid eggs for about a year. I'm no pro but I have been reading a lot. You might want to give them a reliable source of animal protein which is rich in the amino acids a chicken needs during the molt. A high quality cat food, raw meat (not chicken), scrambled eggs, sprouted grains, or mealworms to name a few.

    Maybe an experienced chicken breeder/owner can give you advice based on his experience. Mine comes from a book. I just read about the molting process today. It really is interesting.

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