So talk to me about molting...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sunny & the 5 egg layers, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    I was just curious on when my hens will start molting? They are 7 months old. And all are laying eggs. When should I expect a molt? Will I get eggs during this molt? Do they all molt at the same time? How many times will them molt in one year?
    Thank you in advance. [​IMG]
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    They'll molt next fall. You will not get eggs while they are molting. It's an individual thing so they may or may not molt together. It seems to be a constant flow of some growing feathers in, some losing feathers, etc. They molt once a year in the fall. (sometimes into winter) This is if you do not add light in winter. If you add lighting, they could not molt or molt at a different time.

    Don't expect eggs for a while when they are molting. The average time for my hens seems to be about 3 months, even with increasing their protein during this time.

    If you haven't seen this already, here's what a hard molt looks like.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=580915
     
  3. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Quote:Good heavens! Is that a typical moult or do some get it worse than others? I wonder if their wild ancestors moult out this bad. I know the wild galliformes where I live don't seem to.
     
  4. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have an entire coop molting at the sometime! I get one egg every. four days, maybe. The other birds in my second coop are not molting and laying strong. Do they eventually get on the the same schedule? I hope not, at least i'm getting eggs still.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I've had a lot of different breeds in the past and they've all had gradual molts. A few years ago I got some chickens that have had some really hard molts. I'd never had a chicken before where their entire breast and belly was bare skin. When all the blood feathers grew in, they looked like porcupines!

    These were also the broodiest chickens I've ever had. They all went broody at least once a year, sometimes twice and one three times in her first year as a hen. I noticed that the hardest molts were in the chickens that had just gotten done being broody before the molt.

    Over the last several years, these chickens have quit being so broody. This year, I don't think any of them went broody. They've also had more normal molts, instead of the really hard molts. None of them went naked this year.

    Even though they're 4 years old, they're laying great. I'm actually getting more eggs than in the previous year, because they aren't going broody or having the extreme molts.

    No matter how much or how many years of experience you have with chickens, they can still surprise you.
     
  6. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:Good heavens! Is that a typical moult or do some get it worse than others? I wonder if their wild ancestors moult out this bad. I know the wild galliformes where I live don't seem to.

    This girl is having a very hard molt. Not all chickens molt this badly. Some of my girls you would hardly notice their molt, except for losing their tail feathers. So there is definitely a wide range of molting.
     
  7. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you guys! Looks like I shouldn't be expecting a molt from my girls until next year around this time. Thanks all!
    [​IMG]
     
  8. harvobro

    harvobro Out Of The Brooder

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    SUBJECT: PECKING ORDER CHANGES RELATED TO MOLTING?

    I've got only one of six molting at this time. My Black Star, Big Mama Thornton, is dropping feathers all over the place-- in the coop and in the run. When she first started molting I guess she was still trying to lay because the first inkling the molt was beginning was finding her feathers in the nest. Then they started appearing in the coop in the morning, then on the ground where they free-range. I guess she started about September 25th or so. Damerow says it will run 14-16 weeks, so we'll be watching. This is our first year raising hens. They were born 11 months ago (Nov. 1, 2010).

    One thing interesting I noticed yesterday is a change in the pecking order. What I thought was one of my gentlest hens, Stella, a Black Sex-Link, started ruthlessly attacking the number one hen, Buffy, a Buff Orpington. Stella had Buffy pinned down rooster-style and was pecking at her head like a machine gun. Buffy was screaming and Stella wouldn't let her up. Stella was previously 3rd in the peck order and is much smaller than heavy-breed Buffy, but I guess size doesn't matter when it comes to pecking order. Big Mama (now in molt) is 2nd to last and she's our biggest girl.

    I'm curious to know if any of you have also noticed changes in the pecking order at molting time. Is this just a natural time for chickens to reestablish their peck order?

    Big Mama Thornton, photo taken some time back. Our largest hen. Next to last in the peck order, despite her great size.
    [​IMG]
    She's now in molt.

    Stella, photo shot some time back.
    [​IMG]
    Stella used to be #3 in the peck order. Now she's feeling her oats-- trying for #1 status.

    Buffy, photographed some time back.
    [​IMG]
    Buffy used to be #1 in the peck order. Now she's being challenged by Stella.

    New Iberia, LA
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  9. Moabite

    Moabite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2010
    Utah
    Four of my six hens are molting. I got feathers all over the yard. How long is this gonna take? One looks naked, the others seem to just be missing their tails.
     
  10. littlemissjellyfish

    littlemissjellyfish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My EE "Esme" has just finished molting! She was a sorry sight for a couple of months, looking quite bedraggled! Now she's all happy and shiny with her new feathers! Out of my 11 older girls (They were hatched the beginning of June last year) she is the only one who has gone through a molt thus far. However, I have noticed a drastic decrease in egg production. (I dont use an alternative light source in the fall/ winter months, I'm sure this is a contributing factor!) Do hens usually stop laying before they molt? Or is it the other way around? Just wondering if some of my other girls are getting ready to molt, too! ( I HAVE noticed quite a few feathers about, but nobody is looking really disheveled yet)
     

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