When do chickens molt?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by a1doll, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. a1doll

    a1doll In the Brooder

    Nov 14, 2011
    I am brand new to the forum and this is my first time posting. My 12 year old son got 12 red pullets from the local tractor supply this may. They are locked up at dark every night otherwise they are free range. One was killed 2 weeks ago by a predator so now we are down to 11. Today i came home to find lots of feathers in an area under 2 pine trees where the chickens like to hang out. Could they be molting or maybe attached by something? They are only 6 months old. I am also wondering if we should get a rooster. A freind of mine said a rooster would protect the hens but then I heard from someone else the rooster may pick on the hens! UGH! Not sure what to do! I would appreciate some advice. Thanks!
  2. ChicKat

    ChicKat Crowing Premium Member

    Molting occurs when the daylight shortens (usually autumn) at about 18 months. However, chickens can molt any time. Stress can cause a molt. Some egg producers even 'force molt'.

    It could be that the same predator that got the first one, is back for more. Perhaps you could devise a secure run or pen -- like the one made of PVC and protect your chickens while they free-range. Can you check the chickens to see if one has feather loss that looks like something was trying to grab it?

    And WELCOME to the forum!
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you joined us, but wish it were for a happier occasion! [​IMG]

    I think these two articles give good information on molting, including some good drawings so you know what to look for. Chickens can go through minimolts, too. My first year pullets usually skip the molt and continue to lay through their first winter, not molting until the followingt fall, but ad Chikcat said, they can molt at any time. The normal reason is the shorter days of light, but there can be other causes.

    Mississippi State describes molting

    Kansas State feather loss

    If they are molting, they are not going to drop all their feathers in only one place. The coop where they sleep should be full of feathers too. I'd be real concerned about a predator.
    I really wish you luck on this one! And once again, [​IMG]
  4. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    In my experience the major molts( as opposed to those that happen as they mature from chicks to pullets) are, generally, around the anniversaries of their laying their first egg. This is kind of a rule of thumb, one that all birds don't seem to follow, but is usually the case.

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