Molting

MotherOfChickens

Songster
Jun 29, 2017
506
809
217
Middle Tennessee
I have a hen that is going on 20 months old. She has always done things her way, lol... Anyway, she is molting. But interestingly enough, she is still laying eggs. She doesn't have lice or mites, it is definitely a molt. Only bare spots, that aren't really bare are on her neck and there are a ton of blood feathers coming in so, I know it is a molt. My question is, although they USUALLY stop laying during a molt, is it THAT uncommon for a hen to continue laying?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
The typical behavior is that they stop laying and use the nutrition that was going into egg production to grow feathers instead. So for a hen to continue laying while molting is not typical and is uncommon it is not unheard of.

Let me make some guesses. She is a production chicken, either a cross or a breed that lays really well. You are feeding her a high protein diet so she has nutrients for both eggs and feathers. It's even possible that her daylight hours are being extended, either on purpose or with a security or street light. Hopefully you are not providing heat this time of year in Tennessee.

Typically they molt in the fall when the food supply drops off if they are feral and depend on foraging for their food. I know it is a common recommendation on here to up the protein when they molt to help them grow feathers. I don't do that, don't find it necessary. It's just my opinion and I'm fully aware that I'm way in the minority on this forum, but I believe the more unnaturally I treat them the more likely I am to get uncommon results.

I don't know how you are feeding them or anything else. There is a lot of guessing in this. It is also my opinion that she is not being hurt by laying during the molt.
 

MotherOfChickens

Songster
Jun 29, 2017
506
809
217
Middle Tennessee
Some do keep laying, not common, but not unheard of...
....especially if they don't molt 'hard'.
What breed is she?

She is a Black Australorp. She hasn't really had any bald spots, but if you lift her feathers, you can see lots of blood feathers coming in and it looks like a pillow exploded in the run lol
 

MotherOfChickens

Songster
Jun 29, 2017
506
809
217
Middle Tennessee
The typical behavior is that they stop laying and use the nutrition that was going into egg production to grow feathers instead. So for a hen to continue laying while molting is not typical and is uncommon it is not unheard of.

Let me make some guesses. She is a production chicken, either a cross or a breed that lays really well. You are feeding her a high protein diet so she has nutrients for both eggs and feathers. It's even possible that her daylight hours are being extended, either on purpose or with a security or street light. Hopefully you are not providing heat this time of year in Tennessee.

Typically they molt in the fall when the food supply drops off if they are feral and depend on foraging for their food. I know it is a common recommendation on here to up the protein when they molt to help them grow feathers. I don't do that, don't find it necessary. It's just my opinion and I'm fully aware that I'm way in the minority on this forum, but I believe the more unnaturally I treat them the more likely I am to get uncommon results.

I don't know how you are feeding them or anything else. There is a lot of guessing in this. It is also my opinion that she is not being hurt by laying during the molt.

She is a Black Australorp. She would lay well if it weren't for the fact that she goes broody every other month. Mine don't free range. They have layer crumbles available all the time except when they go into the coop for the night. No extra lighting. And I dont use heat.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
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Wisconsin
That is pretty unusual especially with being fed a layer. What's the protein content on it? Do you feed higher protein treats like meal worms? Very interesting for sure
 

IamRainey

Crowing
Aug 22, 2017
2,849
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Los Angeles (Woodland Hills); gardening zone 9B
She is a Black Australorp. She hasn't really had any bald spots, but if you lift her feathers, you can see lots of blood feathers coming in and it looks like a pillow exploded in the run lol

I'm experiencing something similar.

My chickens -- a Cream Legbar and a Plymouth Rock -- are about 18 months old. I'm finding short feathers all over the coop. I'm not seeing any bald spots yet but someone told me this was a soft molt. They're continuing to lay. Not at their usual rate but, still, eggs every 3 days or so.

Mine are not getting a layer feed. They're on 16% grower feed because I have younger birds in the same flock who aren't ready for the calcium. I also give them the canned food my cat doesn't finish from time to time -- maybe 4 ounces every 3 or 4 days -- and I supplement that with veggies like cabbage and pumpkin.

I don't provide any additional lighting. I don't push them to do anything that isn't in nature's plan. I don't heat either. It isn't necessary in SoCal. Heat is our issue.
 

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