why do they molt in the winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jstlitlome, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. jstlitlome

    jstlitlome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am new to chickens. My chickens are about 9 months old, and I wasnt expecting molting in my first year. But my EE has stopped laying and her head and cheek feathers are thin. she seems a little thin as well, but otherwise ok. I have switched them to a higher protein feed. So sad, because she is my only blue egg layer. My egg basket is looking so brown. [​IMG] I may have a couple other molters, but nothing visible. But the egg count is WAAY down, (I knew that was to be expected in the winter, but have opted for no white light)

    My question is.. why would chickens molt when they most need their feathers?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I hear you.
    One breed I raise molts their first autumn, which is unusual.
    I also raised Jaerhons, They molt in December and January. Being from Norway, they probably say "YOU CALL THIS WINTER?" IT FEELS MORE LIKE A SAUNA TO US!!!
    Don't worry about them. They'll be fine.

    Good job taking them off of layer feed and going to higher protein.

    Layer feed should only be used for flocks that are all actively laying.
    Otherwise give a grower or finisher feed and oyster shell on the side for those laying.
     
  3. jstlitlome

    jstlitlome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! She is my favorite chicken. She loves me the most. Yesterday when I went into the run, she jumped in my lap and shivered. Which then convinced my weak heart to put a heat lamp in their coop....


    I know they are fine, but its on a thermostat and only goes on at 20 degrees. I just felt so bad for her!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Seems like my chickens love to molt in the dead of winter. And while I do draw the line at adding heat at night, (unless it is in the minus temps), I will turn on the heat lamp first thing in the morning for some flash heat if any of them are really bald from molting. It can help them warm up enough to get their appetites going.
     
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    They molt because tattered feathers don't retain warmth, and spring is the time for raising chicks.

    The new feathers come in pretty fast, so there's no need to worry.
     
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens can molt at any time of the year. Late summer and fall are the most common times for chickens to molt.

    I would be surprised by a 9-month-old pullet molting, but it can happen. Are you sure she is molting and not just stopped laying eggs because it is winter?

    By the way, you can use a red light. This is supposed to not bother them as much as white light but will encourage them to lay eggs.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. jstlitlome

    jstlitlome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Bullitt!

    She is visibly missing cheek and head feathers. Plus, I have been finding large body feathers around. (not so much this week) She is not the only one not laying eggs so that really isn't my concern. (although we are coming up against an egg shortage!) She is just the only one that I can see a visible molt.

    I did add a red light on a thermostat so that it will go on at 20 degrees and off at 30. That cycle will not help them lay, though, I'm sure. it warmed up enough last night to go off. But sadly, it will be on again tomorrow.
     
  8. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    A 9 month old pullet can molt, though it's usually not a hard molt. I have several pullets in molt right now that were hatched in late February. I have a few young molters every year.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Agreed. I think it can be breed specific.
    My penedesencas that hatch early in the year all molt their first autumn.
     
  10. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    My DH and I are the only ones in either of our families or group of friends that raise chickens, so we get the same question from any number of times every year. Our answer; "Because they want to." Because no other answer seems to satisfy them, whether it's right or wrong. [​IMG]

    Most of our flock molts September-November, but our roo always starts in August and never has all of his feathers back until Dec/Jan, and there is always a hen or two that seems to wait until Nov/Dec (sometimes Jan/Feb) to exchange their plumage. Cold and snow be d****d as far as they seem to care. Gives me the chills looking at them, though. Oo
     

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