How long after moulting will she start laying again?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Bellasmom, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. Bellasmom

    Bellasmom Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2009
    At least it doesn't look like someone shook out a feather pillow! Her tail feathers are growing back in and she's beginning look like her old cranky self again! So how long before she starts laying again, can any one advise?
  2. Domestic_goddess

    Domestic_goddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2009
    Here's so info for you: Good luck!
    A moult (or molt) is the process of shedding old feathers and growing new ones. During this time, your hens will stop laying, giving their reproductive tract time to rest and rejuvenate. They will also build up their nutrient reserves.

    Under normal conditions, the moulting process will occur typically once a year for adult birds. Some individuals will molt twice a year. Rare individuals will molt once in a two year period. Pullets, or immature hens, go through one full and three partial molts prior to coming into lay.

    After your chicken has moulted, you will see a reduction in egg production but a higher quality to the eggs. Each year her egg production will diminish, many farmers keep their hens for only a few seasons and then they become dinner. This is strictly a personal preference as they will continue to lay for years, depending on the breed and individual bird. Note that molted birds are hardier and not as prone to disease.

    Good layers and poor layers moult differently.

    A poor layer will typically moult early, after only a few months in production. Early moulters will shed their feathers slowly and in turn, replace them slowly. You’ll start to see a tell tale feather here and there on the ground. This process can last for up to 7 months. You can often tell a poor layer by their appearance; their feathers are softer and they look well groomed.

    Feathers are made up mostly of protein, if the hen is not using protein to make eggs, you will see that in her beautiful coat. If you are considering culling your flock, this would be a good place to start.

    A good layer is a late moulter. Often these birds will lay for 12-15 months before going into their molt. Late moulters seemingly shed their feathers all at once; you’ll find piles and piles in their favorite spots and under their roosts. It is a quick process as they shed and re-grow feathers at the same time.

    Often this will take place in only 2-3 months, allowing her to return to full production sooner. Some super layers will actually lay well into their molt, although the frequency of eggs will significantly diminish. For the same reason a poor layer has a well-groomed appearance, a good layer will have a more tattered look, due to the use of protein. She is using that protein to make eggs, not pretty feathers.

    The order of feather loss is the same for both a slow and a quick moult.

    The loss will begin on the face and head, followed by the neck, breast, body, wings and tail. A good layer may continue to produce as her feathers drop from her head and face but by the time she is shedding her wing feathers, egg production will most certainly have ceased.

    If you see balding spots on your hen’s head and back only, and you have a rooster, this is not a moult. While mating, the rooster holds her head feathers with his beak and puts his feet upon her back. If your hen is only showing balding in these spots, the rooster is getting too aggressive with her; you may need to separate them to give her a chance to recover.

    Because good layers shed their feathers so quickly during a moult, they may likely have some bald spots. Watch closely to make sure the others in the flock are not pecking at her. If they draw blood, a separation would again be in order. Chickens get very excited over blood and will continue to peck at the poor wounded individual until she bleeds to death.

    Also try to keep stray feathers picked up. Remember that feathers are made up mostly of protein. When chickens are experiencing a protein deficiency, they will pluck feathers from each other, or themselves, to eat. It’s an important indicator to you that they are experiencing the deficiency so you can takes steps to correct the problem. If you leave feathers lying around, they will eat them and may then pluck feathers because they enjoy this new addition to their diet. You will have lost an important indicator of a problem because they have developed a bad habit.

    Moulting is a stressful and tiring process.

    Your hen might be quiet, not very active and seem almost shy or embarrassed by the process. Don’t be alarmed; give her time to come through it. There are some things you can do to help the process along though; add extra protein, high in amino acids, to her diet. This will make it easier to grow the new feathers. Feeds high in oils will help the new feathers coming in as well. Using artificial light to extend daylight hours to 14 or so will also help as it is the daylight hours that slow production and induce the molt, not the cooler autumn weather.

    Moulting is a natural process. However, sometimes we can inadvertently bring on a moult early. Stress, fatigue and poor management can cause an early moult so take good care of your flock but know that sometimes it can’t be avoided.

    Give your hen good nutrition and good light and she’ll come through it just fine.
  3. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    Sometimes it takes acouple months, some of mine are molting right now and I do not think I'll get eggs from them til Dec. [​IMG]
  4. Bellasmom

    Bellasmom Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2009
    Thank you!
  5. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Quote:Great info! Thanks!!!!!!
  6. M To The Maxx

    M To The Maxx Baseball+Girls=Life

    Jul 24, 2009
    A couple of my EEs have been molting for 4 months now!!!
  7. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    Thanks TamVan. That answer all of my questions and then some. Great info!
  8. Luvmybob

    Luvmybob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2009
    Wow! Great Info! I didn't even know chickens molted.. [​IMG] ..Now if (or when) they lose feathers I won't freak out....thank you!!!

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