queshtion about molting.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 72farmer, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. 72farmer

    72farmer New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2013
    hey everyone, this is my first year owning chickens and i just learned what molting is today because i noticed one of my hens was loosing feathers a cupple weeks back.my queshtion is if i didit have lighting for eggs for a cupple weeks and during this time i noticed the feathers faling out.i then set up the light to get eggs (the light has ben goin for about a week).shuld iturn the light back off so the hens can finish moltin? hope i worded the queshtion good enought to understand .if not let me know ,thankyou
     
  2. 72farmer

    72farmer New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2013
    just a lil more info.i am in massachuetts and am woried about the hens being cold with no feathers during the months of winter.its already cold.
     
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Adding light isn't a magic bullet. You can't jump them from 10 hours one day to 14 the next and have it make a difference. What you're actually doing is stimulating the pineal gland, and that takes time. When increasing light, you must increase it in 10-15 minute intervals every three days or so. Once they reach 14 hours, it can then take up to 6 weeks for the light to make a difference. We add enough light to hold the hours of daylight steady in the fall once they get down to 12 hours, wait until we see the first moult, then begin bringing it back to 15 hours so that it's back early enough to stimulate the flock to lay after they come out of moult (and just in time for the Christmas rush on eggs). Here are some university fact sheets on adding light. You may be interested in how to light birds for growth rather than eggs, etc:
    http://umaine.edu/publications/2227e/
    http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~mdarre/poultrypages/light_inset.html

    As far as your birds, I have had some go though the winter with completely bare backs because of the rooster and be just fine in an un-heated coop. We don't get quite as cold as you do, but do get down toward -20 for at least a few days each year. Make sure they can get out of the wind and always have unfrozen water and enough feed, and they should be fine until they grow their feathers back.
     
  4. 72farmer

    72farmer New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2013
    ok. so i should i turn the light off and let them molt?then slowly turn the light on when there done?
     
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I would drop the light back to 11 hours/day or so, let it stand that way for a week, then start bringing the light back up. Adding the light won't interfere with the moulting, but it will help to bring them back into lay sooner. The key is to increase the light slowly (if you've allowed the light levels to drop) or to never allow the light levels to drop below 14 hours by paying attention to when the light levels begin to drop in the fall and increasing the artificial light levels as the natural light levels decrease. Of course, that approach requires planning for next year.

    You can also force all your hens to moult at once by keeping the light levels steady as described above, then crashing the light levels down by turning all the lights off for a couple of days, then adding light 10-15 minutes every three days until they're back up to 14+ hours. You also have to remember that if you have them under artificial lights and the bulb burns out or you lose power for a day or two they may all be thrown into moult. One of the downsides of adding artificial light.
     
  6. 72farmer

    72farmer New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2013
    thank you for all the help. it was much needed.
     

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