Why is one of my chickens molting in July?

spiritpots

Songster
May 17, 2018
81
182
127
East Central Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
I hope someone can help me with this! I have three new chickens (now 16 weeks old) and have been in the process of integrating them to my existing flock of three chickens (each about 17 months old) for the last several weeks. Today I noticed that one of the existing chickens, a Maran, has started to loose feathers and I'm wondering if it may be related to the stress of introducing the new pullets. The feathers that she is losing are mainly the soft fluffy ones on her back side and around her vent. I checked for mites or parasites but couldn't see any and her vent looks normal. She is laying daily, too.

I had the pullets in a temporary run right next to the main run for about 3 weeks and about 10 days ago moved them into a separated area in the main run. The pullets have been staying in this area during the day and after the three older chickens go to roost in the coop I put the pullets into a covered dog crate in the run so they are more protected at night. The pullets go back into their separate run when the older chickens are let out of the coop in the morning. Things have been going well with everyone during this "see but don't touch" stage so 3 days ago I began letting the two groups out to free range together for a bit each day. In general the older chickens and pullets go their separate ways when they're out but the Maran (who is loosing feathers) is definitely at the top of the pecking order and she has gone after the young ones several times so they know she is the boss. Today she was following the young ones around quite a lot and they kept their distance so there wasn't any real fighting. I've read that feather loss can occur when new chickens are added to an existing flock so am thinking that is probably what is going on but am wondering what I should do or if things will improve on their own in a few days. I can certainly stop having the young ones free range with the older chickens and keep them in their separate run for a longer period of time if that is what would be best.

I'm sure this has happened for others so truly appreciate any help with this! Thank you!
 

SniperGoose

Songster
Apr 15, 2018
294
1,110
247
Central Pennsylvania
I'm not sure it's due to the new pullets being added. I have an existing flock of 8 that I haven't added to this year and one of my hens started to molt last week. Some just molt earlier than others. While it's possible she's losing feathers due to stress from adding new chickens, I sort of doubt it if there's no real drama going on. Probably just an early molt like my hen. Either way, I don't think it's anything to worry about.
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
23,902
13,402
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
Many of the adult chickens will be starting the heavier part of molt about now. My adult games started replacing flight feathers of wings back in May. My American Dominiques which are more typical of backyard breeds have a molt that starts later and is more compressed so ends about same time as in the games.
 

Folly's place

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
17,516
22,855
906
southern Michigan
I've read that the best laying hens molt later in fall, rather than early. I'm not motivated enough to trap nest a figure out who my most productive layers are, so have no actual experience with this one. My birds molt whenever, some in winter.
Mary
 

spiritpots

Songster
May 17, 2018
81
182
127
East Central Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Thank you all for your quick replies! I feel better already! I noticed just a few larger feathers in the run over the last few days but today there are soft feathers all over the run. I even notice a couple fall out as she ran across the yard! The photos I saw of molting showed it starting with neck feathers so since these are from her low back side I wasn't sure. I really appreciate your comments!
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
23,902
13,402
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
I've read that the best laying hens molt later in fall, rather than early. I'm not motivated enough to trap nest a figure out who my most productive layers are, so have no actual experience with this one. My birds molt whenever, some in winter.
Mary
Some like leghorns have a very different pattern of feather replacement which actually renders them essentially flight less for a month or so. By flightless I mean not trimmed out flight.
 

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