molting - to add light or not to add light in the fall

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by valerie in CB, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. valerie in CB

    valerie in CB Out Of The Brooder

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    I am a newbie who inherited 6 birds about 2 months ago. They are from a large flock of free ranging hens that was being adopted out. They are varying ages, from 6 months to 3 yrs (??unknon) various breeds, all laying eggs except for the youngest one. I was told if I add light to ensure egg production (which I started doing about a week ago) then the birds will not molt until the spring. I have noticed feathers around the last 3 days. Are they molting anyway, should I turn the light off and let nature takes it course?? We live in a cold mountain location and it is already freezing in the early mornings but the days are warm still. They are basically free ranging in a yard 50x15, and get locked up at night in a coop.

    Pls forgive me for asking what I am sure is a redundant question!! :) Any suggestions, advice, comments, are very greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Molting is triggered by shorter daylight hours. Adding light before the days get shorter, might help with molting, but it will not stop it completely. If you live in a cold climate, you want your birds to molt before winter, so they can have new feathers to keep warm.
     
  3. valerie in CB

    valerie in CB Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the suggestion, I think I had better let them molt and buy eggs while I can still get nice ones at the farmers market. I didn't realize the new feathers would be warmer, that sure makes a lot of sense!
     
  4. valerie in CB

    valerie in CB Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh, one more thing. I would like to get back to egg production after molting. Do I just watch to make sure they are all fully feathered before I add back light to equal 14 hours each day?
     
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Feathers are mostly protein. Increase their protein to help them feather in quicker - meat scraps, tuna, cooked eggs, black oil sunflower seeds, mealworms are all high protein sources. Once they feather back in, it takes them some time to lay again, as they have to get their body weight back up. But yes, that would be a good time to add the light.
     
  6. Deb B

    Deb B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also a newbie here. I have 6 chickens that are only 8 weeks old. I also started noticing a lot of feathers in the past couple of days. Nobody is being pecked on, it seems to be some feathers from all of them. Would chickens as young as mine molt? They haven't even grown in all their adult feathers yet. Thanks in advance for your advice!
     
  7. Choco Maran

    Choco Maran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Deb B your chicks are lossing their baby feather and growing in their adult feather so yes you will see feathers around. It is not a real molt just a baby molt sort of. It is very normal.
     
  8. Choco Maran

    Choco Maran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    valeria in CB I would leave the light on so that when they are done molting they will start laying sooner. I leave a light on in my coop all winter and I contiune to get eggs year around. It will not hurt
     
  9. valerie in CB

    valerie in CB Out Of The Brooder

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    make that 5 chickens, we lost our first to predation today - a hawk :( - my favorite one too :( :(
    Thanks for the suggestion about the light.
    Looks like our girls will no longer be free ranging.
     
  10. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm sorry you lost one. At 8 weeks, they are hawk/owl bait. Wait until they are full sized and then free range.

    I totally understand about losing the favorite - I lost my favorite hen to a bobcat last year.
     

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