How long does moulting last??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RosieW, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. RosieW

    RosieW Hatching

    Aug 15, 2008
    The Gorge
    My older chickens are moulting. They are about 1 1/2 yrs old. How long does it last typically??
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008

  2. CUDA

    CUDA Songster

    Mar 4, 2008
    It depends on the bird itself, the weather, and their diet. You can read more about the moult HERE .
  3. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    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.

    (Click the link above for a very nice illustration of the info in this article)
    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."
    2 people like this.
  4. littlelemon

    littlelemon Songster

    Mar 15, 2007
    That was very informative, thank you! My hens are all in various stages of moult right now, and egg production has really dropped.
  5. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

    Oct 18, 2009
    Wow, that was a really helpful link, thanks for sharing!

  6. emjay

    emjay Songster

    Sep 6, 2009
    i know this a bit of an old post. But, my hens are starting to molt right now, egg production has dropped significantly. So, if this moult lasts 4-6 months, does this mean , NO EGGs for 4-6 months??
    as well, does one start feeding them high protein food items now, or when the new feathers are coming in?

    Now I see why many sell, cull their birds at 1 years old. I won't, but, I can see how a lot of people wouldn't be able to lose production that long. I have 3 flocks of varying stages/ages, so I am able to have eggs all the time.

    some good protein foods? and how much, how often?

  7. CamillaRules

    CamillaRules In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2009
    Quote:I was so glad to find this because it's exactly what my girls are going through too. What kind of food or supplements should I be giving them? Can someone reccomend a high protein food? Also, since the days are getting shorter (and cooler) is it wise to put a light in the hen house or will that just mess up their cycles more? I mean it their bodies need a rest from laying, then I don't want to artificially "force" the laying either. As you can tell, I'm a newbie at this too. My girls were 1 yr in July.
    Call me the worried mother hen right now! [​IMG]
  8. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Thanks dlhunicorn! You really are a human encyclopedia. [​IMG]
  9. joy1355

    joy1355 Hatching

    Jun 21, 2009
    New York
    My 11 girls start molting 3 months ago, now i still get 2-3 eggs a day. i don't know how long it will last?

  10. CamillaRules

    CamillaRules In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2009
    Quote:Thank you for that. At least I don't feel totally alone. I'm getting 2 eggs a day from my 2 Rhode Island Reds, but the rest of the 6 girls are still on strike. As long as I know this is normal, I'll live with fewer eggs for now.

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