Molting questions please

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by renovationmom, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. renovationmom

    renovationmom Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Texas Hill Country
    Do chickens all molt at the same time every year?

    How many times per year do they molt?

    Does it vary by breed, age, weather?

    How long does a molt last?

    How do you tell the difference between a molt, a over bred hen or a hen being picked on?

  2. RoostersCrow HensDeliver!

    RoostersCrow HensDeliver! Songster

    Apr 11, 2011
    SE Michigan
    I've had some hens molt in fall and others in spring. It all depends on the lighting situation, I think the shorter days during the fall/winter trigger hens to molt naturally. If you keep a light on them during the winter to extend the daytime hours they will molt in the spring. I don't think that it makes a difference when they molt, but if you want a decent amount of eggs in the winter then they need a light.

    My hens have only molted once in a year.

    I don't think breed or age has anything to do with it, but in the spring my hens from the lighted coop will start to molt with the warmer weather. Unfortunately, we get a lot of rain and they tend to get drenched.[​IMG]

    All chickens molt differently. The healthy good quality birds usually molt fast, while the lesser quality birds will take longer.

    A molting hen will usually loose feathers over most of her body. My hens normally start out with all head feathers, most of the neck feathers, and a lot of butt fluff falling out at the same time. You can definitley tell they're molting when you can see the pin feathers coming up through the skin.
    An over bred hen will usually only be missing feathers on her back just infront of her tail and on the back of her neck or head where the roosters grabbs feathers with his beak while mating. And a picken on hen will probably only have bald spots on a spot or two of her body. (I had one that went around and plucked out the other hens butt fluff and ate it. [​IMG] There were never any pin feathers though so I knew it was not a molt.)

    Hope this helps a little![​IMG]
  3. poodlepill

    poodlepill Songster

    Feb 27, 2010
    Southern Illinois
    My BR hen molted in the middle of winter.......single digits to teens to 20-30 degrees. I really didnt appreciate that she molted in winter as I am sure she was cold, she lost half her down. She survived and is fine now.
  4. Laigaie

    Laigaie Chirping

    Mar 4, 2011
    Fayetteville, AR
    My understanding is that the speed of the molt is more related to breed than diet, though I imagine a poorly-fed hen would molt more slowly than her sisters.
  5. renovationmom

    renovationmom Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Texas Hill Country
    Thank you all for the helpful information!

    I live in a climate where winters are mild, and my hens seem to molt at different times, which works out good for egg production and hatching. Summer here is so hot, egg production stops all together, which also gives my broody hens a good break.

    It does appear I have an overbred hen, she has feathers missing on her back, just behind her wings. I have 2 roosters with 10 hens. They are all silkies. I seem to have better fertility with 2 Roo's, and she is the only hen who has missing feathers. I would hate to have to isolate her from the flock, but afraid if I do not, she may end up with cuts on her back. [​IMG]

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