Molting: What is It and How to Help Chickens Get Through It


| 7/27/2012 3:03:01 PM


Tags: Molting, Chicken Molting, Chicks Down, Chickens, Chicken Feathers, Feathers, Pin Feathers, Quill, Chicken Bald Spot, Chickens Feather Loss, Feather Loss, Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick, Kathy Shea Mormino,

 Molting 1 

It's late summer or early autumn and the floor of the chicken coop looks like a pillow fight broke out overnight. Assuming the flock is healthy with no parasites, they are most assuredly molting. What is molting, when does it occur and what can be done to help get chickens get through it? Molting is the shedding of old feathers and growth of new ones. Chickens molt in a predictable order beginning at the head and neck, proceeding down the back, breast, wings and tail. While molting occurs at fairly regular intervals for each chicken, it can occur at any time due to lack of water, food, normal lighting conditions. Broody hens tend to molt furiously after their eggs have hatched as they return to their normal eating and drinking routines. 

The photo above shows Phoebe, my bantam Frizzle Cochin, in October 2010. The photo that follows is Phoebe in September 2011. 
 Molting 2 

First Juvenile Molt ('mini-molt') 

There are actually two, juvenile or "mini molts" as I like to call them, before a chicken's first annual molt. The first mini molt begins at 6-8 days old and is complete by approximately 4 weeks when the chick's down is replaced by its first feathers. This is a 7 day old Olive Egger chick. She is losing her yellow down, which is being replaced by her first feathers. 



 Molting 2a 

jmurray201
11/17/2017 1:47:01 PM

When they moult (and are older...at least 4 years old) do they lose the entire feather, or just the ends. I have one that has some bare spots, but don't know if she is getting picked on, or if she is moulting. The pins are still in her skin, but the ends are gone.


pluckytree
6/10/2016 2:05:54 PM

The photo of Phoebe in her "rough molt" is the only picture I've ever found of a chicken that looks like one of mine. She had two years of normal molts, then had one that looked like that. Only problem is that the feathers didn't come back in that year, nor the next year. She was bullied by her sister and we separated them, so hopefully she will grow them back. Seeing the photo at least made me think she may eventually be pretty again although I have my doubts.


joyce Gardenhire
4/2/2013 10:40:52 PM

My chicks are about 5 weeks old and they are all going bald on their backs.....and some on the neck. Most of the information I have read indicates that they are too young to molt. I have checked for mites and havent found any....any suggestions?







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE