Exactly what is Molting

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ajlynco, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. ajlynco

    ajlynco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm a newbie (day-olds 10/14) and doing my research. I've read a little about 'molting', but don't completely understand it. Could someone explain the molting process, when does it start, and what can I expect from my RIR's & BR's? [​IMG]
     
  2. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Molting is when the old feathers fall out and new ones come in. In normal conditions they do this a few feathers at a time over several weeks. When chicks are growing they will first get all their feathers in, then around 2 months of age (from my experience) they will start their juvenile molt and this will last till the reach maturity at around 20 weeks of age (I call it their adult feathers). Kind of like a child losing their baby teeth to adult teeth.

    Then the average time that a adult chicken will do it first molt is around 18 months of age. Again they will start losing a few feathers at a time with new ones coming in. They will also stop laying eggs during this time too.
     
  3. ajlynco

    ajlynco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm under the impression that I shouldn't put my new chicks out in the coop until they feather out. Should I wait until they're done with their juvie molt? Does an adult hen molt every year and how long does the process take? Should I do anything special for them duting the molt?
     
  4. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Molting of laying hens

    Each year chickens molt, or lose the older feathers, and grow new ones. Most hens stop producing eggs until after the molt is completed. The rate of lay for some hens may not be affected, but their molting time is longer. Hens referred to as "late molters" will lay for 12 to 14 months before molting, while others, referred to as "early molters," may begin to molt after only a few months in production. Late molters are generally the better laying hens and will have a more ragged and tattered covering of feathers. The early molters are generally poorer layers and have a smoother, better-groomed appearance.

    Early molters drop only a few feathers at a time and may take as long as 4 to 6 months to complete the molt. Early molters are usually poor producers in a flock. Late molting hens will produce longer before molting and will shed the feathers quicker (2 to 3 months). The advantage of late molters is that the loss of feathers and their replacement takes place at the same time. This enables the hen to return to full production sooner.
    Drawings

    The order in which birds lose their feathers is fairly definite. The feathers are lost from the head first, followed in order by those on the neck, breast, body, wings, and tail. A definite order of molting is also seen within each molting section, such as the loss of primary flight feathers before secondary flight feathers on the wings.

    The primary wing feathers determine whether a hen is an early or late molter. These large, stiff flight feathers are observed on the outer part of each wing when the wing is spread. Usually 10 primary feathers on each wing are separated from the smaller secondary feathers by a short axial feather.

    Molting birds lose the primary feathers in regular order, beginning with the feather nearest the axial feather and progressing to the outer wing-tip feathers. Late molting hens will lose primary feathers in groups of two or more feathers, whereas early molters lose feathers individually. Replacement feathers begin to grow shortly after the old feathers are shed. Late molting birds can be distinguished by groups of replacement feathers showing similar stages of growth.

    by Mississippi University & Poultry Management
    This page was last updated on October 14, 2010.
    http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html
    Web page information: [email protected]
     
  5. vsmenagerie

    vsmenagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I was wondering about this because I am noticing, in my chicks pen, feathers all over every time I move it. I was going to do a search today, to see if they would be having a molt now, as they are 9 weeks now.
     
  6. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First time I didn't know about juvenile molting and it scared me. I though something was wrong or that something was getting to them. But someone here told me about the molting and its normal. My newest batch is just starting to lose their feathers and it really does look like someone is pulling their feathers, but this time I know.
     
  7. vsmenagerie

    vsmenagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I was thinking that too!
     
  8. ajlynco

    ajlynco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Darklingstorm-How old are the chicks in your new batch?
     

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