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Is there a time of year that chickens molt?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Wissa38, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. Wissa38

    Wissa38 Chirping

    Jan 21, 2012
    I'm a first time chicken haver. I aquired 2 wyndottes from a neighbor who was moving suddenly last january and just feel in love with having chickens. The wyandottes were about 9 months old at the time. I've added 3 buff orpingtons who are now 22 months old.

    I've read on molting but I just realized that I've yet to see a molt, or what I imagine a molt would look like. My two older wyandottes haven't molted that I know of. No bare naked chickens or great loss of feathers. Both are great layers.

    Is there a time of year I should expect a molt? Or after a certain age?

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    They can molt at any time but normally their 2nd autumn and each thereafter. I have a breed that molts the first autumn.
    Yours should wait till next fall but you never can tell.
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Chickens go through 3 sets of feathers from hatch to adulthood at about 8 months. In your case that is not relevant.

    Thereafter molts are annual. Fully adult birds of most breeds will begin to replace wing feathers about June with replacement being sequential and following a consistent pattern. These are the big stray feather you likely saw during summer. In late summer to early fall the process picks up unless a hen is in heavy lay. At that point tail feathers and body feathers are being lossed and often replaced almost as quickly. With many birds the loss is noticable to trained eye but often does not involve the exposed patches of skin I associate with stressed birds. Generally once body feather replacement begins it takes another 3 to 4 months for process to be complete. The last flight feathers of wings will be replaced at about that time. In reality, birds are in molt about 6 months of the year. Some breeds have flight feather replaced in groups of three with start of process delayed so progression with respect to flight feathers is much faster. Duration of molt for such breeds is shorter and the naked look is more frequently observed. Molting can be stressfull, especially when birds in lay, brooding or weather is cold. My birds while molting body feathers appear ravenous and are more touchy about coming into contact with me.

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