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What does it look like when chickens start molting

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bobelot, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. Can someone show me some pics of a molting chicken cause I want to know what to expect when it starts!!??
     
  2. It sort of depends on the chicken. Some will have a REALLY hard molt (like, totally bald), and others you might not even realize are molting.

    Here are some pics of a pretty normal molt (not my pics, my camera is broken, but this is what about 20 of my hens look like right now):

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    And here is a VERY bad molt:

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    One of my Cornish hens just finished her molt, which was the worst I've seen so far. Her whole belly and back was pretty much bald, and she basically looked like a half bald porcupine for a month. You will maybe ever see a molt as bad as the one above once or twice in your life.

    Best of Luck

    ~~Ms.B :)
     
  3. Does it hurt the chicken at all and will there be feathers everywhere and another question do they start doing this in fall to get ready for winter?
     
  4. It does not hurt the chicken at all. It is similar to a dog shedding.

    You will find some feathers scattered around, but usually not too many.

    Chickens will not molt their first fall/winter. So, a chick hatched, say, March 2012 will not molt until fall 2013.

    The purpose of molting is to renew plumage so that the birds stay warmer through the winter. Usually they will molt anywhere from late summer to early winter, but I have had hens molting in January too. Some birds will not even molt some years, or it will be such a soft molt you don't even notice. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm actually amazed at how many feathers are all over the ground, considering most of my birds seem to molt lightly or moderately. I look at piles of feathers and birds that just look a little scruffy and wonder where all the feathers came from cause the birds really don't look THAT bad!

    The birds also stop laying, and sometimes act a little depressed, not as active as normal. That's normal for a molting bird.

    A molting rooster is such a sorry sight! They're usually so proud and pretty, and they just look scruffy.
     
  6. Well, I free range all my birds on 6 1/2 acres, so I probably just don't notice how many feathers are actually there. :p But I guess if I think about when they were cooped up way back when there could be a lot of feathers.....
     
  7. So after molting a chicken might never lay again???!!!and so different breed molt worse then other breeds?
     
  8. No, they only stop laying during the molt. Some of mine will keep laying through most of the molt though, and just stop for a week or so at the peak. They will continue laying normally (sometimes better!) after their molt. Molting is also a chance for layers to take a short break and "recharge" their systems to be ready to lay again. :)
     
  9. I love ur answers they are really detailed thanks for answering !!!
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Most birds have their first real molt at about 18 months. For spring birds, this is the following fall. They usually molt and don't lay through the following winter if you don't supplement with light. Some do restart laying but most don't IME. They start laying again the following spring.

    I haven't noticed a difference in breeds molting, but mine are mostly heavy/dual purpose breeds.
     

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