Earliest age for molting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AlanW, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. AlanW

    AlanW In the Brooder

    Nov 21, 2013
    I would like to start a thread about the earliest age that you've witnessed molting.

    I'm new to this, and was under the impression that they will not molt until 15-18 months old, in essence, on their second fall/winter. This is a subject that is repeated over and over on the inter-webs, but is erroneous.

    I've seen several of my birds molt, that are as young as 7 months.

    So, what is the earliest age that you've witnessed molting?

  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    9 months.
  3. JoyfulPromise

    JoyfulPromise Songster

    Jan 22, 2011
    Fostoria, MI
    Interesting that you should ask - up till now, all of our chickens have molted more or less "on time" i.e. about one year after they start laying eggs. But just today I noticed that one of our White Orpington pullets who is about 9 months old has a head full of pinfeathers and almost no tail! And my brother just told me that one of our 9 month old Buff Orpington pullets is molting as well! Both of these pullets started laying between 24-28 weeks old last fall.

    I have no idea what has caused this untimely molt, but I wonder if it has anything to do with the extremely hard winter we have had up here in Michigan this year. The temperature dropped below freezing quite early last fall/winter, and it has STAYED very cold, plus we have had several weeks of an extreme cold this past month with quite a few nights below ZERO degrees Farenheit and one night it actually was down to TWENTY BELOW ZERO!!! I would be interested to hear if anyone else thinks the extreme temps could have precipitated an early molt for these pullets?
  4. AlanW

    AlanW In the Brooder

    Nov 21, 2013
    My chickens are on a programmed lighting schedule, and the temperature was regulated (as part of a science fair experiment for my daughter).

    They were on 12 hours of light per day until about mid December. In an effort to get some of the older hens to molt, I gradually reduced the lighting to 10 hours per day. The younger ones were supposed to keep laying, but roughly half of them stopped laying and went into molt.

    It's not a big deal, but I was just shocked to see some of the younger ones molting, especially after believing that they couldn't molt until the following year. Now I know better.

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