Is this normal?

LoveMyChickenBabies

Crossing the Road
Sep 11, 2018
976
37,978
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Kansas USA
So I have around 50+ chickens and the oldest are about 1 3/4 years old. None of them have molted or showing signs of molting anytime soon. Is that normal? All of my hens/roos NEVER have molted, and I hear they they start molting around a year. Should I be concerned?
 

jonezjollyfarm

Songster
Apr 19, 2015
806
821
201
Illinois
It's coming. My hens had their first one very late. They dont do it until after their a year old (most turn a year in the spring) then during their second fall they should start. It was almost winter when mine started. I wouldn't worry. Just get your broom and dust pan ready with that many birds it's going to look like a massacre happened on your farm. I have 39 birds most of which are molting or starting to molt and my word the feathers are everywhere.
 

jonezjollyfarm

Songster
Apr 19, 2015
806
821
201
Illinois
No problem. I thought my chickens were special because they hadn't dont it... and then it happened. Dont be surprised if they act a little strange too. Its rough on them to grow all those feathers. Egg production will drop. I know the first time around I thought one had neurologic problems because she was walking backwards... that's also a sign of a protein deficiency or low protein which can happen when they grow feathers. So we give them high protein foods like tuna and black oil sunflower seeds and the occasional bit of cat food. And maybe its just my birds but my rir seem to have the worst time with their molt.
 

LoveMyChickenBabies

Crossing the Road
Sep 11, 2018
976
37,978
967
Kansas USA
Okay, I will make sure to get a good protein plan for when it happens! We already have a 24/7 cat food dispenser for all of our 26 cats and they love to eat from it, so we are good on the cat food (and dog food). Thanks for reassuring me. I was just being a worry-wort.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,483
13,175
656
western South Dakota
The first time, I thought a bird had been killed, she was white, and it looked like snow in the coop, I think they all fell off at once! My older birds are just now coming out of molt, but they look so pretty in their new feathers.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,073
22,798
907
Southeast Louisiana
So I have around 50+ chickens and the oldest are about 1 3/4 years old. None of them have molted or showing signs of molting anytime soon. Is that normal? All of my hens/roos NEVER have molted, and I hear they they start molting around a year. Should I be concerned?

Sounds pretty normal to me. There are different things that can cause a molt any time of the year and at any age. A really stressful event like running out of water for a couple of days or a predator attack might trigger a mini-molt or even a full molt. I've had broody hens molt in late summer when raising their chicks months before the rest molt. If they have been laying for a long time period, like maybe over a year, they can get kind of worn out and need a rest so they might do a mini-molt.

The main thing that triggers an all-out molt is the days getting shorter. They are programmed to lay eggs and raise chicks in the spring and summer when food is plentiful. Then in the fall they replace worn out feathers and quit laying so they can use what they eat to grow new feathers instead of making eggs. Then when spring comes around they start laying again.

We've messed with this cycle some by domesticating them. Sometimes we provide artificial light so they don't know the days are getting shorter, maybe on purpose or maybe by accident with security or street lights. We provide then a rich diet year around so they don't see a drop-off in nutrition during winter. We've bred them to lay a lot of eggs instead of just enough to raise two or three broods a year. We've bred them to not go broody that much.

So now it is not that unusual for pullets to skip the molt their first winter and continue to lay until the next fall, though production may drop some toward the end of that laying period. With lights and a rich diet some even go broody in the middle of winter. But one thing that is pretty constant as long as you don't mess with the lights is that they will molt at some time in the fall when the days are getting shorter after that first winter. So get ready.

Some chickens are fast molters, some are slow molters. That's controlled by genetics. It's not how fast the feathers grow back it's how fast they fall out. With fast molters it seems they can go almost bare overnight. They look horrible. With slow molters you may not even notice they are molting by looking at them, the only way to really tell they are molting is that you see a lot of extra feathers flying around. But eventually they look all sleek and shiny. Fast molters are generally better producers.

This time of year in Kansas I'm a little surprised you haven't seen some extra feathers flying around, especially in the coop. Maybe there is something in your set-up or you are treating them so well it's delayed a bit. We are all unique. This kind of stuff does not happen at exactly the same time from one chicken to the next, let alone from one flock to another.

Don't be upset or worried if you see them eating some of the feathers flying around. Those are a free source of protein that mine take advantage of. There is nothing wrong with it.

Good luck!
 

LoveMyChickenBabies

Crossing the Road
Sep 11, 2018
976
37,978
967
Kansas USA
Thanks! I haven't really noticed that many extra feathers, but they do like to eat the feathers! Lol

The weather isn't like it usually is right now. It's SUPER rainy for some reason and it rains almost everyday right now... It is kind of concerning.

Thanks for the tip about slow molting and fast molting!
 

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