How often do pullets molt

Xerocles

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I don't know if this is in the right Forum or not. But if not I'm sure a moderator will move it where it should be. From Pips to first egg. Roughly five months. How many molts do chickens normally undergo? Mine went from down to First feathers. Then a second molt. Then a third. And after each, they looked like completely different birds. Brown speckled down to drab brown and off white, to glorious golds to darker golds with black edged browns. I had to change names after each molt because I couldn't recognize the individuals. They're EEs. Picture is the current color.
 

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SurferchickinSB

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I don't know if this is in the right Forum or not. But if not I'm sure a moderator will move it where it should be. From Pips to first egg. Roughly five months. How many molts do chickens normally undergo? Mine went from down to First feathers. Then a second molt. Then a third. And after each, they looked like completely different birds. Brown speckled down to drab brown and off white, to glorious golds to darker golds with black edged browns. I had to change names after each molt because I couldn't recognize the individuals. They're EEs. Picture is the current color.
Interesting! I just got two EEs and I wonder if that will happen with mine
 

aart

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From Pips to first egg. Roughly five months. How many molts do chickens normally undergo? Mine went from down to First feathers. Then a second molt. Then a third.
Yup, sounds about right.
Never have figured out if they do 2 or 3 juvenile molts (sets of feathers).
@centrarchid probably knows for sure.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
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Yup, sounds about right.
Never have figured out if they do 2 or 3 juvenile molts (sets of feathers).
@centrarchid probably knows for sure.
I am in the process of finding out for myself and seeing two patterns. One has first set started at hatch with replacement started by 4 weeks, but still not complete by 10 weeks. The next set is not fully in place until how many weeks? This pattern represents what I think is the more primitive pattern like exhibited by American Gamefowl.

The second pattern has the very same feathers started at hatch still in place through about 12 weeks. This going on with Speckled Sussex and a bird that is about half Oriental Game. I starting to think most production and possibly ornamental breeds will follow this pattern.

More people need to watch their birds for this. When I started I though my games went through four sets, but really doubting that now. There may be a photoperiod component too. Still very interesting.
 
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Cindy in PA

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Jul 8, 2008
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Mine started a juvenile molt at 13 weeks & now at 20 weeks, it looks like some are still losing & getting new feathers. I never really noticed it going on so long in prior years.
 

aart

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Mine started a juvenile molt at 13 weeks & now at 20 weeks, it looks like some are still losing & getting new feathers. I never really noticed it going on so long in prior years.
That's about what I've observed...
...so 3 set of feathers(including the first one) and 3 molts between hatch and about 6 months.
 

Ridgerunner

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I am in the process of finding out for myself and seeing two patterns.

I'll be looking forward to your observations now that you are specifically looking for it. I think that you are right, different chicks go through this differently. Some possible causes for differences might be time of year or diet. I think heredity might play a big part, some chickens are slow molters and some are fast. That's not about how fast the feathers grow back but how fast they fall out.

I've never really observed it to try to figure it out. I typically have three or four different age groups together and can't always tell who is molting, it's just that some feathers show up. Usually it is such a gradual process most don't look like they are molting.

@Xerocles I've noticed some differences from one molt to another. Usually it is not that dramatic but occasionally it is. I can sometimes see patterns in juvenile plumage that do not show up in the adult plumage. One example is the mottling gene. It's a recessive gene so unless you have both genes at that gene pair the mottling gene it will not show up in adult plumage. But I often see it in juvenile plumage when only one gene is present. Here is an example. Those white "mottling" pots do not show on the adults.

4.5 wk mottled.JPG


This is my most striking example. In her first adult plumage this mixed breed hen was a normal black mottled chicken. After her first adult molt at about 1-1/2 years old she came out like this. I think this is called the exchequer pattern.

Exchequer.JPG
 

SurferchickinSB

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I'll be looking forward to your observations now that you are specifically looking for it. I think that you are right, different chicks go through this differently. Some possible causes for differences might be time of year or diet. I think heredity might play a big part, some chickens are slow molters and some are fast. That's not about how fast the feathers grow back but how fast they fall out.

I've never really observed it to try to figure it out. I typically have three or four different age groups together and can't always tell who is molting, it's just that some feathers show up. Usually it is such a gradual process most don't look like they are molting.

@Xerocles I've noticed some differences from one molt to another. Usually it is not that dramatic but occasionally it is. I can sometimes see patterns in juvenile plumage that do not show up in the adult plumage. One example is the mottling gene. It's a recessive gene so unless you have both genes at that gene pair the mottling gene it will not show up in adult plumage. But I often see it in juvenile plumage when only one gene is present. Here is an example. Those white "mottling" pots do not show on the adults.

View attachment 1903248

This is my most striking example. In her first adult plumage this mixed breed hen was a normal black mottled chicken. After her first adult molt at about 1-1/2 years old she came out like this. I think this is called the exchequer pattern.

View attachment 1903252
Wow, what a difference!
 

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