Molting for Chickens - All your Questions answered

Molting - All your Questions answered

Molting - All your Questions answered

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What is Molting?

Molting is the shedding and regrowing of feathers. It is a natural and normal occurrence that happens to Chickens at the end of the egg laying season and an essential process to keep your Chicken healthy during the following year. 
There are two types of molting. Hard Molting – this is the extreme type of molting. Large patches of feathers fall out and bald patches will appear. The other is Soft Molting which is less extreme but a longer process than the Hard molt.
During a Hard Molt you could mistakenly believe your Chicken has exploded over night, there will be feathers everywhere! 

When will this happen?

Usually at the end of the egg laying season when the days become shorter. Usually anytime from the end of August to December. Your Chicken will experience it's first molt at 18 months and molt annually after this. I often think this is the worst time of year for a Chicken to molt, after all, surely they need their feathers to keep them warm at this time of year? The reason they molt now and not at Spring is, all their protein power goes into egg laying in the Spring. If a Chicken were to loose all their feather at Spring, their would be no eggs and no Spring Chickens! Once the days begin to get longer and all the feathers have grown back it is full steam ahead and egg laying can resume. 

What has caused this to happen?

Molting is a Natural occurrence and occurs in time with changes to the day light hours around Fall time. In other circumstances Molting can also be effected by stress, lack of food and water or after a period of broodiness where Chickens become undernourished. 

When will the feathers grow back?

Pin Feathers will start to appear in a day or two, these are sometimes called a ‘blood feather and give a ‘stubbly’ appearance.  you will be surprised how fast they start to appear. It can stay like this for 5-7 days before the shaft starts to flake off and the new feather will start to appear.

The new Pin feathers and are covered in a hard waxy substance to protect the new feather as unlike fully grown feathers, these Pin feathers have a blood supply to them. 

The molting process can take between 4 – 16 weeks. Usually, if a Chicken is experiencing a hard molt the feathers will grow back quicker than a Soft molt.

How can I care for my Chickens during the molt?

When Chickens experience the molt their feathers will fall out. It can be quite alarming but rest assured this is a natural process.

When the Pin Feathers start to appear it is important to keep your eye on the Chicken. Unlike normal feathers these Pin Feathers have a blood supply to them and if they become damaged, they can bleed quite heavily. It might be an idea not to handle you Chicken at these times as they are very sensitive.

During the molt your Chicken is quite vulnerable, please ensure they are safe from the rest of the flock. If you see any blood on your Chicken you may need to separate her from the rest of the flock. 

Feeding 

It is important to up their protein intake now to help speed up the process.  Feather are made up of 85% protein so your Chicken will need to be eating this to aid the regrowth. Replace non – protein snacks with high protein treats suck as Dried Mealworms, Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I also feed my Chickens scrambled egg at the time as they try to recoup the lost protein.

This is one week after the hard molt began. She has a good covering of pin feathers already. 

Water 

Add some vitamins or Apple Cider Vinegar to water during the molt.


Why has my Chicken stopped laying eggs? 

During this period, your Chicken will be putting all of their energy and protein power into growing new feathers and keeping warm, so don't be expecting many eggs until they have a brand new feathered coat!