Molting and no eggs for 3 months - when will they lay again?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lennie, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. Lennie

    Lennie Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Antioch, CA
    I have a total of 4 hens. 2 hens (a polish and an EE) that were born March 1 and 2 hens (an australorp and an EE) that were born at the end of March. All 4 of them started laying at 20-22 weeks. At the end of September when they were then 6 months old, the first born chickens stopped laying and started molting within a few days apart from one another. Since then they have replaced just about all of their feathers. The polish looked pretty hilarious for some time when she had no tail feathers and only tooth picks on her head. The EE still has a somewhat naked neck/throat although her beard covers it well. Anyway, they are good looking birds that are very active and happy, but haven't done "squat" for 3 months now (no eggs and no squating). I was surprised that they were molting at 6 months old anyway.

    The black australorp and the other EE that were born at the end of March were both excellent every day layers until a few days ago. Now, the EE just stopped laying a few days ago and started to molt 2 days ago. The australorp is still faithfully laying as the only one left that has the decency to reward me with eggs.

    From everything I have read about chicken molting I learned that chickens are not supposed to go into a molt their first year. But 3 of my 4 chickens are disproofing that theory. Also, 3 months of molting and not laying is a long time. When will those free loaders ever start laying again? [​IMG]

    Oh, and don't think they're not getting all the nutrients or are lacking care, etc. They literally live in chicken heaven here (or so I was told by numerous friends that also keep chickens).

    I'm wondering.... anybody has a similar experience?

    (sorry for the long post)
  2. sotelomary

    sotelomary Chillin' With My Peeps

    My chickens did not molt their first fall. They did molt this fall. I know they are molting because I see lots of feathers in the coop. I only had 2 that were regular layers and they have stopped. You have to look at them closely though to notice that they have missing feathers. I have read how they can look pretty ugly but mine look normal. I thought it was our mild winters and perhaps they will molt just alittle.

    I've heard that you can up their protein to help with this. Mine are on 18% protein. I have been mixing their 16% feed with 20% to prevent feather picking. This solves the problem. I tried giving them cat food and other high protein foods but they are too picky and won't eat the stuff.

    I don't know how long it will be before my 2 hens resume their egg laying. It's only been about 3 weeks since they've stopped. What was interesting is that one of my new EE's who started laying this fall has stopped and she isn't even molting! I know they need 14 hours of daylight to lay but my 2 hens that are now molting layed year round last year. I expected this from my new EE.

    You can never figure chickens out.

  3. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 27, 2009
    All of my under 1 year old hens molted this year! The molts started in October and the last one to molt, my EE, is just finishing the process. All but one of them (my production red) completely stopped laying during this time. I have 8 hens (all different breeds) and 6 of them started laying again in the past few weeks. My EE and my blue cochin have not started laying again and looking at their combs they are not going to anytime soon.

    I am in the bay area also and my chickens live in chicken heaven here too!

    I have read other peoples comments about EE's egg laying during the winter and a lot of them have said they can count on their EE's not laying another egg until spring! Still others have said theirs lay all year long no problem. I think maybe it has to do with whatever the "mix" is that is in them?

    I am not sure about my cochin or if that is normal for them or not. I tried reading the cochin thread and it seemed like most other peoples birds were laying but they could have been using artificial light, which I do not do.

    I am going with the fact that I will not see an egg from them until maybe Feb or March. That way I will not be disappointed everyday when I look for those green eggs! [​IMG]

    Not sure I have any answers for you but at least you now know you're not the only one![​IMG]

  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Once they start laying, some will do a mini-molt about 7-9 months of age, where a substantial area of feathers drop at once and egg-laying ceases. One of my flock had a mini-molt last year, at 7 months old, and she stopped laying for a couple months. She was the earliest to lay, at 19 weeks old. The rest who began laying at 24+ weeks, including my black australorp, laid right through their first winter.

    Mini-molts aren't usually quite as drastic as the other adult molt -- the BIG hard molt which happens around 12-18 months old. Search BYC for more posts on mini-molt.

    The egg-laying "time off" seems to depend upon individuals... I had a 17 month old hen who started a molt in mid-August 2010 and she still hasn't resumed her egg-laying though she looks great. Yet, another hen (different breed) started molting a full month later, in September, and she has already resumed laying, on December 20.

    You can help them through a molt by offering a little extra protein. Your mileage may vary. [​IMG]
  5. gmendoza

    gmendoza Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2010
    Rock Hill,SC
    One of my bared rocker hens is molting and still laying durring molt.Shes a real trooper.shes about 18 months old and is due up for new feathers.

    Sometimes you can see em molt,sometimes you cant.
  6. Lennie

    Lennie Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Antioch, CA
    Cathryn - that is very reassuring to hear that there are others out there with less than year old chickens that are molting and not laying for a long time. I was beginning to think that I have very strange chickens that aren't normal...LOL
    Maybe it's the Bay Area climate that makes those chickens behave different? All four of them are very beautiful birds and are like sisters to one another. No pecking, no fighting - just very sweet. They all came from Murray McMurray, but are not directly related to one another - not even the two EEs. The one EE is the "mother" of the four. She looks out for the rest and fiercly protects them and even stands up to my medium sized dog that can be very jealous at times. [​IMG]
  7. Lennie

    Lennie Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Antioch, CA
    Quote:It didn't look like a mini-molt for the two that went through it starting at 6 months. They lost all their tail/wing/neck and head feathers. The polish was completely naked around her neck for a couple of weeks. As soon as they started molting, I gave them lots of extra protein in form of BOSS, yogurt, tuna, etc. Heck, they're eating better than I do...LOL
  8. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    I have a Brahma who is molting right now at around 10 months old. She was a great layer for a month or two before, but has stopped since beginning to molt. Her tailfeathers are gone, and so are most of her head and neck feathers. Not only that she looks like a chicken x porkipine hybrid because of the new feathers LOL. It doesn't seem "mild" to me either, but I expect it is definately normal.
  9. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Quote:My mini-molter, at 7 months old, lost her entire tail,lower back saddle feathers and most of her wing feathers, plus a large portion of her "underneath" feathers. It was still a mini-molt.

    I saw the difference this year (same bird) at 18 months old...she lost over 90% of her feathers at once, just quills sticking out of bare skin and constantly shivering, crouching on the ground trying to cover her bare legs. Really naked.

    Good treats, btw. And ain't it the truth about them eating better!
  10. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Quote:Mini-molts are not "mild" molts. What I said was that they aren't usually as drastic as the big, hard molt that comes around 12-18 months old.

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