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Molting / Eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Bellacoby, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Bellacoby

    Bellacoby In the Brooder

    Oct 5, 2013
    Hi All,

    I have 3 pullets (its almost January) and when I got them in mid-October they were supposedly 15-22 weeks old. So they could be 6 or 7 months old now. They seem happy, healthy, etc… NO EGGS yet… and they get plenty to eat and look fine. They don't seem stressed either. However, in the last 2 weeks I am noticing lots of feathers in the pen/coop. No bare spots on them that I can see.

    Could they be molting already? Is there anything to do about getting them to lay or just be patient? The days are short now and I am not adding light since they have not laid eggs yet and I have read that could be a problem if they haven't laid yet to "force" them to lay….

    Thoughts? Am I worrying too much? No drafts in their coop, their poop looks fine, and they are eating plenty...

    Any suggestions are welcomed!


  2. CristinaB

    CristinaB Chirping

    Oct 15, 2013
    Knoxville Maryland
    Yep, molting for sure if you are finding piles of feathers in the coop. Thankfully a hens first molt is usually mild so you should not see bare spots. I have a hen that is molting for the second time and she looks like she has had a bad run in with the plucker!

    Feed your ladies a bit of cat food (crunchy type) or finisher for a couple days as a treat to increase the protein in their diets to help them feather back in.

    As for egg laying, make sure you are providing them with the right sized nest box, heritage breeds require a 12" clearance in a dark or quiet place. Put a little hay in the box to encourage them to get to laying.

    The molt usually signals the end of the egg laying season. Allow your ladies to enjoy their break and expect to see eggs in the spring when the days get longer. Once the days start getting longer be sure to put them on layer and to provide nest sites and oyster shell (or crushed egg shells) to ensure good egg quality.
  3. Bellacoby

    Bellacoby In the Brooder

    Oct 5, 2013
    Thanks for the reply!! My nest boxes should be fine… They are getting protein too (worms, sunflower seeds, etc…). 2 Orpington's and a barred Rock. I guess patience is the name of the game. :) Plus they have free picking of oyster shells too.

  4. Cut down on the high energy feed like BOSS. Pullets can come down with a condition called fatty liver syndrome. It will affect their egg laying ability and can kill them. It can also result in hard fat deposits around their vent which may make laying painful if not impossible. Young birds just beginning to lay are more likely to be affected than mature birds.

    There is also the possibility that you may have inadvertently triggered a forced molt. Google "how to force molt chickens" it to see if that is the problem.

    Varying hours of daylight or artificial light will not put chickens into a laying frame of mind, only constant light will. Put your lights on a timer and make sure they get 14 to 15 hours of direct uninterrupted constant light.

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