Molting and cold

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bills, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    You would think that a chicken would naturally molt when the daylight is first starting to change, to get ready for winter.

    It seems my ISA Browns decided to wait until the first real cold weather hit. We had frost the last few nights, although not a heavy frost, it's gotten much colder. Temps are reaching 32 at night but warming to 50-60 during the day.

    I have seen egg production dropping the last week, and a few smaller eggs recently. Yesterday I see the feathers laying around, so I figure ok they are going into molt. Now I have seen some pictures of molting birds that are practically bald, and I hope mine don't get to this point, or they might all freeze before the new feathers grow in.

    Nature seems cruel to let them molt when it is cold. How well can a hen handle this cold when their feathers are missing? Do they have enough fat to keep them warm?
    Do I need to put the heat lamp on at night?

    How long does the average molt take, before they are fully feathered again, and the egg production starts again? [​IMG]
     
  2. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    I am not familiar with Isa Browns... Maybe someone that knows this breed will answer you.

    This is what I have noticed with our birds. They all have different molt patterns. Their feather loss and regrowth are all different, take varying lengths of time. I'll give an example of a few of our birds.

    Some birds drop a huge quantity of feathers all at once and then spend the next month getting the new feathers out. Our Delaware molts like this. She drops all her neck and wing feathers first. She walks around looking like a pin cushion for a month when she molts. She stops laying eggs about a week into the molt and then starts back up again about 2 or 3 weeks after molt is complete.

    Our Partridge Plymouth Rock loses a couple feathers every day, and they seem to be replaced in rather short order. She looks scraggly for about a month and a half and then is absolutely stunning with her new feathers. She stops laying eggs as soon as the molt starts and starts again about 2 weeks after molt is done.

    Our Jersey Black Giant goes broody every six months and goes through a mini molt after she is done being broody. So it always seems forever till she is laying again.

    Our Lakenvelder takes about two months to molt. She loses what looks like a handful of feathers, and as they start to come in, she loses another group of feathers. For some reason I don't understand, she will still lay one egg a week during the time she is molting (she normally lays 4 a week).

    As a whole, I'd say the earliest in our flock starts molting in late August and the entire flock seems to be done with molt by the end of October. When nights in the barn are near 40°F, I put a low watt heat lamp if any of the ladies are still naked. Our flock is over 2 years old now, but I remember thinking during their first molt that I'd have to knit them sweaters to keep them warm. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  3. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] With all those different varietys, it must be an interesting experience learning about all the differences.

    Who's broody this week, whose molting today, which ones are still laying....etc..

    Never heard of a Lakenvelder, is that an unusual breed for a backyard chicken? Show bird or something?
     
  4. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Yes, except for our chicks (12 weeks old now) we have never had any two birds of the same breed. So we have 15 different adult birds. Our chicks are 2 Cochin, 2 Cuckoo Marans and 1 Cuckoo Marans-Cochin mix.


    Here is the feathersite info on Lakenvelders. Our Martha is a large fowl Silver Lakenvelder, which is a white body and black trim. They are listed as Threatened on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy site.

    http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGK/Lakens/BRKLakenvelder.html


    I have posted about Martha a number of times. Here I talk more about the type of bird she has been for us.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=66473
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  5. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    vancouver island
    Those Lakenvelders are a very handsome looking bird! Interesting that thier name may have originated from a type of cattle, that had similar markings. [​IMG]

    Never seen a cow with a comb before...[​IMG]
     

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