How does one "allow" the chickens to molt?

tweetzone86

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Jul 23, 2018
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Hello all!

I am supplemental lighting during winter (first flock-12 RIR pullets born May 8, 2018 and so far 5 of them are laying). I was reading an excellent article on supplemental lighting that was shared on another's post, and the vet on there mentioned "as long as you allow them to molt at about 18 months old".

What does it mean by "allowing" them to molt? Does it have something to do with the lighting? I guess I'm just wondering how a human can "allow" something that is, from what little I understand, a biological process? I'm pretty confused by that at this point...

Thanks!
 

Yorkshire Coop

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Yes it does have to do with the lighting. Supplementing lighting forces their body to continue with egg laying when if left to their natural devices they would moult & stop producing eggs over the winter

If you don’t supplement light it gives them a natural break from egg laying & a chance to produce new replenished feathers which is what I’m thinking the vet was meaning.
Whilst it seems bonkers that chickens lose their feathers in fall when the weather is colder it does set them up with nice new coat of new undamaged or worn feathers for winter.
 

tweetzone86

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Jul 23, 2018
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Kootenai County, ID
Yes it does have to do with the lighting. Supplementing lighting forces their body to continue with egg laying when if left to their natural devices they would moult & stop producing eggs over the winter

If you don’t supplement light it gives them a natural break from egg laying & a chance to produce new replenished feathers which is what I’m thinking the vet was meaning.
Whilst it seems bonkers that chickens lose their feathers in fall when the weather is colder it does set them up with nice new coat of new undamaged or worn feathers for winter.

That puts them 18 m/o in November 2019. Novembers are really cold here in north Idaho (2 hours from Canadian border-we get snow in Nov) and I don't have a heated shed :( If I close the blinds so it's less light, could I have them molt in August instead where it's hottest and that way they don't freeze?
 

Yorkshire Coop

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They do remarkably well even in colder weather. Far better than we give them credit for. If your coop is draft free & well ventilated they should be fine. Could you keep them cool enough if you tried reducing day light?

18 months is just a guide and I would hazard a guess that they would naturally moult end September beginning October but each hen is individual on when they moult. For example I have a hen that moulted at the beginning of September. 2 that started at the end another that has just started and the others don’t look like they are doing anything at all.
 

tweetzone86

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Jul 23, 2018
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Kootenai County, ID
They do remarkably well even in colder weather. Far better than we give them credit for. If your coop is draft free & well ventilated they should be fine. Could you keep them cool enough if you tried reducing day light?

18 months is just a guide and I would hazard a guess that they would naturally moult end September beginning October but each hen is individual on when they moult. For example I have a hen that moulted at the beginning of September. 2 that started at the end another that has just started and the others don’t look like they are doing anything at all.

I would think it's draft free, but as I said they have the little chicken door, and one 12"x14" window for ventilation on the opposite end of the shed (there's a framed with chicken wire stapled wall w/ chicken wire door dividing "chicken zone" from the rest of our 10x20 shed/workshop). I don't think it would create a draft, especially since our wind typically goes west to east and the window is to the south (but chicken door is to the west. However it's only 1' off the ground and 8 feet in front of it is a 6' wood privacy fence. Suburban lot).

But when I went out there yesterday morning, it was a balmy 29 degrees and I could see my breath inside the coop as well as outside. Hence the question ;)
 

Soon2BChixMom

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My Brahma molted into February last year. It was below normal here with the "arctic" blasts. She did well and all she had was a prefab no supplemental lighting or heat.
Your chickens will do fine. I would just let them molt.
Mine are molting now, but are 2 and 3 years old. Most likely by next year your chickens will have their molts in the fall.
 

RWise

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I use lighting in the winter to get a few eggs each day. My girls that are old enuf still molt (maybe they would start faster without the lighting IDK). My girls go in stages so not all are molting at the same time.
I used to be concerned about naked chickens in the winter, but they do just fine. I also let broodies hatch in the winter,,, nothing like watching chicks scratch in the snow,,,
 

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