Molting during subfreezing temps

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Marjoram, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Marjoram

    Marjoram New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Apr 9, 2014
    Our girls have shocked us for the second winter in a row, by waiting until the temperatures are in single digits before going into a hard molt. What would cause them to do this?? We keep the coop door closed at night to keep heat in, and if the temps stay low for long stretches we use a brooder lamp. But why on earth would they shed their down coats when they need them the most? Has anyone else experienced this?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,224
    3,279
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Genetics is a big factor in molting, as is individual health. But another factor could be your chickens are living under artificially warmer conditions, retarding onset of molt. It may be that cold actually stimulates molt and quicker feather replacement.

    Chickens really do not need their coops to be kept at temps that we prefer for our own comfort, but actually are much more comfortable with much cooler temps. Think about how warm you might prefer your own living quarters if you were wearing a down parka you couldn't remove.
     
  3. Marjoram

    Marjoram New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Apr 9, 2014
    Thank you for the reply. I may not have been clear. We don't keep the door closed or use a brooder lamp ordinarily. We let them experience open weather. Most of the time they don't even sleep in the coop--they roost in the run instead. But when several of them are essentially bare, and the temps drop to single digits, that's when we try to keep them warmer. The first year they molted in the fall, which made sense to prepare for our hard winters. But since then they have delayed molting until the bitter cold. It kind of baffles me.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by