Juvenile losing major flight feathers

sqatkins

Songster
Aug 24, 2019
55
65
101
Missoula, Montana
I just acquired 5 pullets of various youthful ages. The eldest is a Rhode Island Red just 5 months of age. My concern is that she seems to have lost her flight feathers in the week she has been here. They are scattered around the chicken run. It's too early for her to molt, correct? She is the largest and most mature bird among the group, the others being 4 months and 3 months of age.

I am a complete novice, so any helpful insights would be welcome. Most comments on molting seem to assume the birds are over a year in age, so don't seem to fit my situation.

Thanks.
 
It may just be a late-ish juvenile molt...they have 2 of these before 6 months of age.
The first adult molt happens around 18 months of age, give or take a couple months.
Look for new pin feathers coming in to confirm molting.

Oh, and..... Welcome to BYC! @sqatkins
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upload_2019-8-25_17-35-59.png
 
This is the rhodie losing feathers. Shown are some of the wing feathers lost so far. Not pictured are the smaller, downiest feathersshe has lost as well. She looks and acts healthy, but I have also noticed her poop is runny and orange, unlike the others in the coop who have a more defined, blackish deposit.
 
This is the rhodie losing feathers. Shown are some of the wing feathers lost so far. Not pictured are the smaller, downiest feathersshe has lost as well. She looks and acts healthy, but I have also noticed her poop is runny and orange, unlike the others in the coop who have a more defined, blackish deposit.

Not pretty, I know, but here is a photo of her poop. Should I be contacting the breeder? I haven’t even had her a week yet. View attachment 1889016
Likely it's juvenile molt.

The poop looks like normal cecal poop to me. Chickens have 2 types of poop - "Normal" which is the formed poop which has a white cap, the other is "Cecal" which is a looser, stinky, sticky, pudding type poop. Out of every 8-10 poops is a cecal poop. They can vary in color from dark to light depending on diet, hydration, etc.
 
She is undergoing the last juvenile molt before going into her first adult feather set. My chickens appear to have one chick feather set and two successive juvenile feather sets before they molt into their first adult set that is complete by about 7 months post-hatch. Many breeds are like my American Dominiques where the replacement pattern for flight feathers is so rapid the birds effectively loose their capacity for flight.

You can impact the appearance of the cecal poop by changing the diet. Birds eating mostly a grain based feed that is light in color will produce the mustard colored cecal poop. If the bird consumes a lot of pigmented greens, the cecal poop will get darker. Still smellier than the other type of poop.
 
Thanks everyone! I feel reassured, but will keep an eye on her. She looks lively, curious, and sleek in every other way. I just wasn't prepared for such large feathers, and so many, to be discarded without it being a real "molt" which I knew she was too young to expect. Also, I read in one of my reference books about the two kinds of poop, so your explanations confirm what I was beginning to suspect. Nice to have a place where a complete novice can ask questions and not get flack about it!
 

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