Moulting--why do they do it?? It stresses ME out!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pawsplus, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    <sigh> I know it's normal. But it seems so stressful and awful. What is the purpose? It seems that it would make more sense if they lost a few feathers at a time year-round, replacing them as they lost them (sort of the way dogs shed year-round). As it is, they can't fly well (i.e., even less well then normal, which isn't great!), they act all stressed out, they don't lay, they don't eat as well, etc.

    Also, does anyone know why they do it at random times of year? B/c last year Clarice moulted in LATE OCTOBER [​IMG], which just about gave me a heart attack. It was cold and she was so nekkid that I could see her little arm bones! Since she's the Boss Hen From Hell, there was no way I would be able to get a chicken sweater on her, even if such things existed (and yes, I DID consider trying to get a dog sweater on her [​IMG] ). But why in the WORLD would Mother Nature tell her to get nekkid just when it's getting cold??

    Svetlana is currently moulting and she looks awful. Yesterday she refused to come down from the roost until I finally went in there and got her down around 2 p.m. Then she came out and ate and drank. It's in the 90s--now is NOT a good time to stay in a hot building and refuse to DRINK!!!

    Mostly this is a rant, LOL. But I really WOULD appreciate any info, if anyone has any, on GOOD reasons for moulting? B/c I don't see any!
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  2. KDailey

    KDailey Crazy Cochin Lady

    Jun 27, 2011
    Bronson, Tx
    I don't have any advice or info but I'm definately not looking forward to when my little chickies are old enough and start moulting. [​IMG]
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    I understand your issue here. I swear, my chicken yard of Australorps, looks like an Aussie was killed and defeathered out there with all the feathers laying around!

    I am no expert on feathers here, however feathers do serve purpose and they need to be replaced occasionally. Unfortunately it is stressful on the bird, and us humans!

    But feathers act to keep the bird insulated. Warm or cold. Feathers have natural oils that protect the bird from moisture, and other foreign things. Way back in the chickens past, they would have needed good looking feathers to attract a mate. Or to camouflage themselves. They would have needed healthy feathers for flight in the wild.

    And as the chicken goes about it's day, these feathers become old, ratty and not good for any of these things. So unfortunately they must molt. (sigh) I am currently waiting on 4 girls to stop with this horrible process and get on with the laying of the eggs! [​IMG]
  4. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    You can help them through a molt by making sure they get extra protein, and also monitoring to make sure they are eating. Some can get so out of sorts that they don't eat. I have to hand feed my Ellie at such times, until she's past the worst of it and starts to come around.

  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Quote:Yeah, I dithered around for a while this a.m. trying to decide if I should get Svetlana down or not. My chickens are later risers than I am, LOL--on a normal day they're not up and about by the time I leave for work a little b/f 7 a.m. (I open their pophole at 6 a.m.). But yesterday Svetlana, as I said before, never DID come out even when Clarice did, so I went and rousted her out at 2 p.m.

    Should I grab her and make her come out before I leave in the a.m. ?? Otherwise I obviously can't be sure if she EVER came out during the day!

    I'm putting out all sorts of tasty extras--they got yogurt w/ ground flax yesterday and cat food this a.m. Mealworms twice last week. But she has to come down from her roost in order to eat it! Otherwise Clarice gets it all.

    Why would a chicken decide to moult in late October?? Anyone know? That just seemed suicidal to me!
  6. CacklingCarolyn

    CacklingCarolyn Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2011
    Louisville, Ky.
    When do they usually go through their first molt?
  7. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Molting time truly varies from bird to bird. Some will molt when we all think it makes sense- during warm weather. And some will molt when we would all think it's suicidal - when it's colddddddddddddddddd!! Some molt for a brief period of time and some for an extended period of time (my roo seems to take up to 6 months from start to finish!). If they molt when it's cold I keep them extra warm so they don't succumb to illness at such a vulnerable time for their immune system. CC - first molt varies too = others can share their observations. I've always adopted homeless adult birds so don't know when their first molt was.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  8. floridachickhatcher

    floridachickhatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2011
    Well our RIR went into a molt about this time last year so its only a matter of time when they do and my mom is not looking forward to it cause while they are still in a molt their babies i hatched out should start laying come winter my mom is trying as hard as she can to prevent them from going into a molt last year i told my mom to feed them can catfood believe it or not after feeding them that for a week a month later they came out of it and its a good thing too cause my mom was gonna butcher them like my cousin does his chickens in a molt but since i can hatch out chicks now i think shes gonna start doing that i told her she is not killing my BO,WR,RSL,GSL,RIR,Ambers and Crosses
  9. SIMPleChick

    SIMPleChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2011
    My chicks are just about to start laying so I have been moving my mind to the next big thing, which is the molt. Thanks for the good info!
  10. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2010
    My oldest chickens were bought last year early in the season...they have not molted yet...I am curious to see what happens when they do.I keep waiting for all the feathers to be everywhere...not yet.I'm hoping for some of you know i had too many roos for a while so some of my hens look awful...and I WANT them to molt! [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by