Molting, laying and light hours

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Fonzeregga, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. Fonzeregga

    Fonzeregga New Egg

    Jan 30, 2012
    I live in Ontario, Canada. I have five hens that are currently molting. I was wondering if i should put a light on in thier coop for a couple extra hours a day as the daylight is less now? I know they dont lay as much when they are molting and i dont really want to mess with thier natural cycle. I guess what i am asking is, should i leave the lights OFF until they are finished molting? Then would i GRADUALLY increasethe light hours to start production again or could i just switch them to 14hours of light right off the bat? Will that screw them up?
    I would just like them to get some nice down feathers as it can get REALLY cold here!
    Thank you:D
  2. DanEP

    DanEP Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2010
    Cadiz Ky
    You could go either way. If you wait till their done molting it will take a little longer to get them back to laying but it still would work.You could also give them a little extra light so the transition is a little smoother.I keep my girls on 12-13 hours all winter. They seem to slow down a little but never quit. Just remember that if your girls are old enough to molt that their not new layers any more and will slow down a little for the winter and will probably pick back up in the spring. It would probably be a good idea to up their protein while their molting and even to help them for the winter
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    If you are interested in a more natural way then I wouldn't worry about lights, I'm in Wisconsin and it's cold here too, I prefer my hens to molt and replenish their bodies at their own pace, most hens will begin laying again after the winter solstice when daylight begins to lengthen, mine usually get going by February, January is bitterly cold and any eggs layed end up cracked and frozen. I prefer to let my hens put their energy into keeping warm and healthy. They all resume laying at their own pace.
  4. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    I agree with oldhenlikesdogs. If you don't want to mess with their natural schedule, skip the lights completely.

    I've never used lights. I figure they need to molt anyway, so why not let them do it without trying to push them, especially when they're also having to deal with the cold. You didn't mention the age of your hens, but the older they are, the longer they seem to take off from egg laying. My 1 1/2 year olds usually take about 2-3 months off, quitting in Oct/Nov and resuming in late January/early February. However, older hens may take even longer (3-5 months), and not resume laying until spring.

    Over the past year or so, I've switched from layer feed to an all-flock feed. With the switch, I've noticed that the hens grow back their feathers quicker during the molt, and some are even continuing to lay during the molt. This never happened when I kept them on layer feed, probably because all of the protein from the feed was going into body maintenance and feather production, so there was none left over for egg production.
    1 person likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Light should be ramped up slowly, sudden drastic changes can cause stress and undesired results.
    Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting.
    Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay,
    I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old,
    as my goal is the birds paying for their feed with eggs and meat.

    I've always used supplemental lighting, now going into my 3rd winter.
    I started with a mixed age flock in fall of 2013, so molting and egg production effects were mixed and unclear to me.
    They kept laying pretty well thru the first winter, pullets started laying in December at 6 months old and some of the older birds molted in spring/summer.

    This year of my 18 month olds, some are molting, some have just started molting and some are not molting.
    The ones who are molting are not laying, even tho I feed about 18% protein, but I have enough pullets laying to cover feed costs.
    I plan on continuing with the lighting for a couple more years to further assess the effect it has on molting, health and production.
  6. zabrielle23

    zabrielle23 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 30, 2015
    tylertown, ms
    Prior to last winter i brought 5 hens that were under 2 years old the person I got them from did not have them since they were babies. One was sick and died and the other got killed by a animal a few weeks ago. Now we have three of those and one that had just started laying a year ago. So now I have two and two in separate cages they like to fight. So there are feathers all over there cages and 1 and 1 laid and egg today after weeks of no eggs. I think they are molting but they still have alot of feathers any ideas?
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Some molt slowly, you can't tell by looking at them, but there are feathers everywhere.
  8. Fonzeregga

    Fonzeregga New Egg

    Jan 30, 2012
    This is Thier first molt and second winter. They were a year old in April.
    Thanks for your feedback everyone. I think I will turn off the lights until they have finished molting and up the protein.
  9. Alvordhens

    Alvordhens Just Hatched

    Mar 24, 2014
    Thank you for posting all your great thoughts. My hens were a year old on April 30th this year and they are having their first molt currently. This is my first time with hens and I was super worried that something was dreadfully wrong when I saw one egg a day instead of the usual five. And all the feathers everywhere too! Now I know. Thanks again!!

    - Maggie

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