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Early Molting -- Birds of a Feather

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SVTechChick, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. SVTechChick

    SVTechChick In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2016
    Mountain View
    So my beautiful Easter Egger has apparently 'decided' to molt at age 10 months. Poop is fine, crop is fine, appetite is fine, and general health is fine. Signs are dropping feathers and no egg production AND more time just hanging out in the nest box.

    This is my first 'run at the chicken rodeo' but I have had other birds. I'd appreciate it if those seasoned pros among us could have a look at this list and tell me if this is accurate, or if I'm full of chicken poop! (I'm a former tech writer and am compelled to write lists, sorry!)

    - MOLTING -- feathers can drop from all over the bird. There is not a lot of picking until pin feathers come in, at which time the girls may preen a bit more to loosen the new feathers. Feathers may appear to be 'sticking out' at odd angles before they fall. Molts can be light or heavy. General health is fine, but egg production is low or stops, and the hen may (or may not) be 'broody' and hang out in a nest box. Wait it out.

    - PARASITES -- the hen typically scratches and plucks at the original site of the infestation, and then in different locations as the infestation grows. You may see a bald spot or two, along with more scratching, preening, and dust baths than normal as the hen tries to delouse herself. Health starts to decline, more bald spots appear, and poop may show signs of parasites. See the excellent articles on this site for info on treatment.

    - ROMANTIC ROUGH HOUSING -- the hen may lose feathers over the backside and neck as her Romeo Rooster has his way with her. May have some actual abrasions or cuts, and may be a bit fearful, but otherwise in good health. Separate Romeo if he is too rough.

    - PICKING -- nervous hens, or those 'under attack' by others in the flock may begin to pluck their own feathers, typically in the breast area. General health may decline, and she may be fearful. Separate the hen for a bit and then reintroduce her to the flock -- there are great articles on this site about how to do this.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016

  2. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Songster

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Sounds good to me! It's unusual for a bird to molt at less than a year, but not unheard of. I have several of mine molting now - egg production has gone from 15 - 20 a day to 7 - 8 per day. We still
    have plenty of daylight (Florida), so I don't think that's what it is at this point on the egg production. Feathers everywhere! Some of the birds look downright ragged [​IMG].

    However, it will pass, the feathers will return (pretty and shiny) and egg production will resume. All of the birds that are molting are more than a year old, so they are right on schedule.
  3. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Crowing

    Sep 2, 2014
    Canton, Ohio
    My Australorps went broody @5months old then is molting right now at 7months old, unusual!

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