Molting should occur in early fall so they have replacement feathers for winter. It's generally regulated by daylight hours and they molt near each other in time frames. I beleive it takes a week. It may be a heavy molt, replacement of most feathers, or not depending on if feathers have been pulled or missing. I've had chickens go bald losing all head feathers at the same time.
You can force a molt by controlling daylight hours with an autotimer and can force a molt by withholding food and water for three days (I found the food and water thing to be mean but I use a timer switch to control daylight) They need 14 hours of light to lay eggs and will molt with 8-10 hours of light. I went on vacation for a month last summer and my neighbour doesn't eat quail eggs so I set the timer to 8 hours. The "scruffy looking" quail all molted and were in great condition when I returned. I set the timer to 14 hours and got eggs within a week (my shed doesn't have a window and I won't live here long enough to put one in).
Wild birds molt before they migrate south for the winter.
Don't bother forcing a molt, it will happen when it happens.
okay - but .... do they HAVE to molt? I mean - mine never did - and if they dont, do I have to force one? they kept laying all winter long (no light in the coop, but they do have a large window) and they look just fine and dandy now that springs just about here
so my question still remains - are they going to molt or ...??
They will moult when they are ready, often the first year one is so light you don't see it, but second year they will likely have a molt you can see easily. Don't worry about it, it will happen when it happens. Anywhere between sept and Feb... or when they feel like.
You may choose to force molt if your bird has been attacked and survived losing a lot of feathers, or you have a big rooster who is hard on the hens, or if feather picking has created bare skin. Also seen a parrot book where some sort of virus or parasite caused a parrot to pull its feathers out.
Never forgot a commercial pheasant farm I went to and from picking there were hens that had lost 80% of their feathers, I felt sorry for the poor things.
Some of mine molted during the winter and some are molting now. I have one who has molted all the feathers off her head and looks like a Turken! She's been like this for months and is just now losing her body feathers some.
Really...well thats good to know Pat - thanks for sharing that with me
. Thats probably what will happen with my girls - I just looked at them today and I see a few (like 3 or 4) feathers here and there, like in the downy area underneath all their "big" feathers that are poking out - but I dont know if thats part of molting or not
Anyone got any pictures of a molt from start to finish by chance? Strange request I know..but.. many of us have never seen a molt so - it would be helpful to know what it looks like. Well - I know for ME it would be, so I dont think my chickens have some god awful disease or something
Speckledhen:"Some of mine molted during the winter and some are molting now. I have one who has molted all the feathers off her head and looks like a Turken! She's been like this for months and is just now losing her body feathers some."
Does it count if they have just a TEENY area - like right behind their comb? I have some that have spots probably 1/4 inch on the tops of their heads but right behind their combs - its not from pecking, its actually a little bald spot
they look like they need teeny toupes almost.
So.. between the downy feathers poking out and the teeny bald spots - are they molting now or beginning to? Again I have NO idea what a molt looks like from start to finish. I know they get pretty ugly, sort of like when they start getting their feathers in, but thats about it.
Thanks ya'll.. appreciate your knowledge and help!