Some hens still haven't molted!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicknlady, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Chicknlady

    Chicknlady New Egg

    Mar 27, 2008
    I have had chickens for ten years now, and have had quite a mix of breeds and ages since then. I have 20 right now. Two seasons ago (March 2012) I got 12 "red pullets" from Tractor Supply. They are awesome layers. But last fall, they were not molting like they should have... they were almost 20 months old then... and I couldn't WAIT til they molted, because they had begun picking each other the previous winter, and had had bald spots and clipped feathers all last summer.

    Now it's JANUARY, and only three of these have just recently successfully molted. The others are still just as patchy with dull old clipped feathers, no signs of new feathers anywhere. The other breeds, older birds (ages 3-8), molted last fall like always.

    Never had this problem, and I'm afraid maybe I'm missing something. I make them lay all winter, with 12 hours of light using a timer. They eat the DUMOR layer pellets, and I provide a Flock Block to try to keep them picking again. That's been successful, there has been very little picking this winter, and it's been so cold that they are in 24 hours a day month after month. I also give the birds several handfuls of scratch feed every day. They have lots of room with a new addition this winter, a dust-bin, new perches...

    Is it possible that they are laying too much, and not getting enough protein to molt??? Too many treats? These red hens are laying about 1 egg every 2-3 days right now.

    They literally have only half enough feathers, and it's COLD. But they say you shouldn't use a heat lamp!!


  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    The only thing I can think of is that maybe they need a break from laying so they can molt naturally. I don't really know how that works, though, as mine molted in the fall and are now starting to lay (with supplemental light, but I didn't start that until everyone was feathered out again). Hopefully someone with more experience and wisdom than I have will come along and help you out. (And correct me if I'm mistaken)
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I would start slowly cutting back their light hours until your back to it getting dark naturally. With their days still long, they may have missed the signal that they're supposed to molt. I don't use supplemental light, so I'm not really sure how that works.
  4. Chicknlady

    Chicknlady New Egg

    Mar 27, 2008
    Thanks for the replies!

    All I can think is maybe the genetics is messed up, and these birds were bred to lay, lay, lay, and molting is not so automatic. They were your basic "red pullet" from TSC, so who knows how good the strains there are. I'll cull out the birds that aren't molting later this summer once my new chicks start to lay.

    In the meantime I've added a heat lamp, and more fresh, dry straw. The next few weeks are supposed to be high in the single digits and lows below zero. Their little red rumps and butts are so sorry!! No sign of frostbite thank goodness.

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