10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

You may be perplexed and concerned if your chickens are molting for the first time. Molting appears to be painful and bizarre, but it is a normal part of a chicken’s life.

molting chickens

This article will cover the reasons for molting and how you can make your chickens more comfortable to help keepers understand molting chickens.

What Is the Definition of Molting in Chickens?

Molting is the process by which birds shed their old feathers in order to grow new ones. It’s usually when chickens start growing warmer feathers for the winter. Most chickens stop laying eggs while molting in order to store extra nutrients.

During molting, chickens will have patches of missing feathers and may appear bald. This appearance may appear to be uncomfortable for the chickens at first, but healthy feathers will grow back. Molting isn’t a cause for concern because most chickens do it every year.

Why Do Chickens Molt?

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

Chickens molt once a year, which is also known as the egg-laying season. The main reason behind this molt is to get new feathers. They have to shed their old feathers and get a fresh set. The process of molting is very similar to shedding your skin.

There are different types of chickens and each type of chicken has different reasons for molt. Some types of chickens molt only during spring, while some types do it only during autumn.

If you own a hen, then you will find out how much time it takes to molt. As every chicken will have different timing for molt, so it is advisable to check on the molt cycle of your hen.

If the hen does not molt properly then there are chances that she may be ill or suffering from some problem. So, you need to check her regularly and give proper treatment if needed.

During molt, the hens will have white feathers. When they start to molt, they will remove their outermost feathers. Once it is over, they will look fluffy and clean. After the molt, the hen will look fresh and healthy.

Another reason behind the molt is to release the heat trapped inside the body. During this period, the hen will stop laying eggs. When she starts to molt, she will lay fewer eggs and when she is done with molt, she will start to lay again.

If you find your hens are not laying eggs, then you need to check their health. They may be suffering from some disease. You can give them medicines or consult your vet if needed.

In case your hen is not showing any sign of illness, then you can change their environment. If they are kept in an enclosed area then you can move them to a larger one.

When Do Chickens Molt?

It’s worth noting that chickens molt several times throughout their lives. Juvenile molt, or the first molt in chicks, occurs when the chicks are 6-8 days old.

During the juvenile molt, chicks shed their fluffy feathers in order to replace them with real feathers. The second juvenile molt occurs when male chickens are 8 – 12 weeks old.

This is the stage at which the decorative feathers develop. When adult chickens reach the age of 18 months, they undergo their first molt. The molting process in this stage lasts 8–12 weeks, though some molt for up to 6 months.

Do Roosters molt?

Roosters do molt. Molting is normal behavior for most birds, including roosters. They molt their feathers around the same time as hens.

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Is It Possible to Prevent Chicken Molting?

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

No, you can’t and shouldn’t stop chickens from molting. Molting is a natural way for chickens to get rid of damaged feathers and replace them with healthier ones. So, while it has an effect on their egg-laying, it keeps them healthier and safer.

We all know that chickens molt once a year but what exactly happens when they molt? Is it possible to prevent it? Let’s find out the answer to this question.

Molting is a process in which a hen sheds its old feathers and replaces them with new ones. This process usually takes place in the spring and fall. A hen’s molting period lasts between 2 to 6 weeks. If you want to know about molting chickens in detail then let’s go through some of the facts.

Fact 1:

Molting is a natural process and it doesn’t cause any harm to your hen. It is just the way it is supposed to happen.

Fact 2:

Your hen’s molting period varies according to her breed. For instance, chickens that are kept in an open-air environment will have a shorter molting period than those that are kept inside.

Fact 3:

The most common reason for molting is due to stress and poor nutrition.

Fact 4:

Chicken molting causes a change in your hen’s behavior. They will be less active and restless during this period.

So, we have found out that molting is a natural process and it does not cause any harm to your hen. Molting doesn’t harm your hen but it makes them less active, restless and causes a change in their behavior.

How Often Do Chickens Molt?

molting chickens

Molting in chickens usually occurs in the early fall season. It allows chickens to shed their old feathers and grow thicker feathers before the cold weather arrives.

While a pullet, a chicken may not molt at all. A chicken’s first molt usually occurs when it is about 18 months old, but it will most likely molt annually after that. They will continue to lose feathers for about eight weeks, and it may take them up to 16 weeks to regrow all of their feathers.

When and how long chickens molt depends on the breed. Some chickens can complete their molting process in as little as three weeks. Some hens stop laying eggs after molting for the winter, while others continue to lay eggs all year.

What Effects Does Molting Have on Egg Laying Performance?

Have you ever wondered why old or spent layers do not produce eggs while molting?

This is what occurs now: When laying chickens are molting, they normally cease laying eggs.

This is due to the fact that egg and feather creation cannot occur at the same time. This is why chickens cease laying eggs or have a major decrease in egg production when they molt.

The egg-laying procedure will begin again once they have produced new fathers.

How long does it take for a chicken to molt?

This feather loss phenomenon begins at the age of 18 months and occurs on a yearly basis. Backyard flock keepers should anticipate eight weeks of feather reduction and regeneration, but some birds may take up to 16 weeks. Each bird’s molt begins and ends at a distinct time.

The length of a chicken’s molt is determined by a variety of factors. The length of a chicken’s molt is affected by age, diet, and habitat. Feathers may first lose their luster. Hens may then gradually lose a few feathers, or it may happen all at once.

More productive egg-layers and younger chickens recover from molt faster than older or less productive hens. In any event, correct nutrition and care may assist birds in molting.

How to Assist Chickens in Recovering Quickly from Molting

Poultry growers must help their molting birds by feeding them with extra protein. The normal crude protein content of the layer diet is 16 percent, however, when the layers molt, this should be increased to 20 – 25 percent.

The reason for this is that hens use protein to produce feathers, and the more protein available to them, the faster they can come out of molting.

Why don’t hens lay eggs when they are molting?

Because molting can be stressful and exhausting for hens, they stop laying eggs. They require a lot of protein to grow new feathers, but they also need protein to lay eggs. So, by halting egg-laying, they can better gather protein for their feathers.

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In most cases, hens molt to mark the end of their laying season for the year. Then, when they begin laying eggs again, it marks the start of a new year of egg-laying.

Most hens do not resume laying until there is enough daylight. As a result, many breeds stop laying eggs for the entire winter.

What Causes Chickens to Molt?

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

Chickens molt to replace worn-out feathers with healthier, more comfortable ones. Chicken feathers become broken or dull over time, so molting can help the birds look and feel better as winter approaches.

Old feathers cannot adequately insulate birds during the cold winter months, which is why they require a new layer of feathers every year. Growing more vibrant feathers may also aid chickens in the future in attracting mates.

While molting is a natural process, there are a few factors that can influence how quickly a chicken loses its feathers. Age, nutrition, and environment all play a role in a chicken’s molting. If a chicken isn’t in good health, it may have trouble molting.

What Happens If a Chicken Molts at an Unusual Time?

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

If your chicken starts losing feathers at an unusual time of year, it may not be molting. Instead, it could indicate that your bird isn’t in good health. Feather loss is an indication of a parasite infestation, which should be treated as soon as possible.

Infestations can be avoided by keeping your chicken enclosure clean.

Another cause of unusual feather loss is chicken fighting. This could be true if the chickens are also bloodied and scratched. Birds frequently quarrel to determine the hierarchy of the coop, but if they begin to harm each other, you may need to intervene.

To avoid unnecessary feather loss, aggressive chickens should be separated from other birds.

Stressed chickens or chickens that aren’t getting enough nutrients may molt at irregular intervals. Ensure that your chickens have a nutrient-rich diet and clean water all year.


Helpful Hints for Molting Chickens

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

You must keep your chickens healthy and content in order for them to molt at regular times and rates. Here are some hints for assisting chickens in molting.

Provide Enough Protein

pellet binders
Pellet Binders

Chickens, like all animals, require a sufficient amount of protein at various stages of their lives. As chicks, their feed should be high in protein, but that percentage should decrease as they grow older.

Because feathers are composed of approximately 85 percent protein, adequate protein consumption results in healthy feathers. Normally, hen diets are high in calcium to benefit the eggs, but during molting seasons, you may want to change their diets to be higher in protein.

When you notice your chickens losing feathers, switch them to a higher protein feed. Protein content of about 20% is ideal. High-protein diets can provide chickens with the nutrients they require to molt and regrow healthier feathers.

Once your chicken’s new feathers have grown back, you can return to their old diet and concentrate on their egg-laying abilities once more.

Feeding Transition

fermented chicken feed
Fermented Chicken Feed

It is critical to give your chickens a gradual transition when changing their food. Most keepers switch them to a higher protein feed at the start of the molting process. Once molting is complete, you can return them to their regular diet.

Continue to mix in some of the old feed for seven to ten days as you begin to switch feeds to help your birds get used to it. The same is true for turning it back on.

If you change the food abruptly rather than gradually, the hens may experience digestive issues, making the molting process more difficult for them.

When focusing on food transitions, don’t forget to always provide clean water to your birds. Some keepers add apple cider vinegar to the water to aid the digestive systems of the chickens during the food transition.

Giving your chickens both regular water and water laced with apple cider vinegar is a good way to give them options for what to drink.

When the birds are ready to get back from their vacation and begin laying eggs again, the nutrient profile must be adjusted to meet their energy requirements.

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When the chickens start laying eggs, switch back to a complete layer meal that meets your goals. Over the course of 7-10 days, gradually combine the complete layer feed with the high-protein feed.

This helps to avoid gastric issues and allows birds to become accustomed to the flavor and texture of their new meal. Prepare for farm fresh eggs for your family once they’re back on a complete layer feed and have colorful new feathers.

Reduced Stress Levels

poultry stress
Poultry Stress

Some birds molt more than they should because of stress. It may not appear that chickens have much to be concerned about, but many things can startle or frighten them, especially while they are molting. Stress may cause them to molt more frequently or less consistently.

When chickens are molting, it is critical to provide them with fresh bedding and to handle them as little as possible. These practices are beneficial on a regular basis, but they are especially important during molting because chickens have fewer feathers to protect them.

As a result, their skin will be more sensitive than normal.

Making sure their needs are always met is another great way to reduce chicken stress on a regular basis. Ensure that they always have access to food and clean water. Also, make certain that their coop is well ventilated.

For the chickens, molting should be like a vacation. It’s a chance for them to unwind and be cared for without having to lay eggs. As a result, make it as simple and comfortable for them as possible.

When individuals go on vacation, they often expect a lot of comfort and space to rest. During molt, things aren’t too different inside the coop. Prevent stress in molting chickens.

During molt, the place where the feather shaft meets the skin can be particularly sensitive, so limit handling and provide lots of clean bedding. Allow ample space for your birds to rest in privacy.

Each bird can be kept comfortable with four square feet inside the coop and ten square feet outside the coop.

In addition, make sure that there is plenty of fresh, clean water available, as well as adequate air ventilation. Hydration and ventilation can help keep the backyard coop spa-like for feather renewal.

Avoid introducing new flock members during this period because introducing new companions and maybe reshuffling the pecking order could cause stress.

Taking Care of Molting Chickens

10 Amazing Facts About Molting Chickens

Caring for molting chickens is similar to caring for other birds. As is customary, you should ensure that they are comfortable and have all of their basic needs met. The main difference is that they may be more sensitive than usual, and they may cease laying eggs for a short period of time.

Molting isn’t something to be afraid of or concerned about. It’s a natural occurrence in the life of a chicken. So, as long as your chickens are well-cared for, they should be able to molt their feathers and grow new ones without any problems.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to learn about molting before your chickens go through it.


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  2.  Webster, A.B. (2003). “Physiology and behavior of the hen during induced moult”Poultry Science82 (6): 992–1002. doi:10.1093/ps/82.6.992PMID 12817455.
  3.  Yousaf, M. & Chaudhry, A.S. (2008). “History, changing scenarios and future strategies to induce moulting in laying hens”World’s Poultry Science Journal64: 65–75. doi:10.1017/S0043933907001729S2CID 34761543.
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