Chicken molting: When, How Long, Care Instructions and More…

Chicken molting: When, How Long, Care Instructions and More…

People shed their skin cells, animals shed their hair, snakes shed their skin, and chickens shed their feathers. Every year, the chicken's old feathers become tired due to bleaching in the sun, and are constantly fed by other chickens. The wings start to look droopy and pointless. Feathers are very important to chickens for several reasons:

  •  coloring and condition of the feather is one of the ways a chicken chooses a partner. Those that look good and have good wings can have a mate (like humans). 
  • When the feathers are cut, they don't fit together. This means that they lose their insulating ability and cause the chicken to overheat. A good insulation during the winter months is essential for the survival of your chickens in extreme cold.
  •  Eventually, their ability to fly will no longer exist. This is not important for chickens but very important for wild birds.

So it is in the old and the new. The new feathers will gradually replace the old ones, giving the chicken a shiny new look. These wings will accompany them through the winter months into the spring, through the mating season and into the summer. Then they started again.
Chickens actually have two molts in their first year of life. The first molt occurs when they shed and begin to shed feathers at about 6 to 8 days. The second molt is between 7 and 12 weeks, when they shed their baby feathers for their first full coat. This is the time when you will be able to tell the difference between a hen and a roaster.
This set will last until their first adult, which will be between 14 and 18 months depending on when they come out. 


What to expect  

 Every time they shake, waves of feathers flutter around. There will also be a lot of dander and maybe a little bit to avoid from all the dander that is not good in the air.
Pay attention to these signs and ask yourself what time of year it is. Their comb and wattles will appear dull or droopy and may be slightly reduced.
During molting, they will not only undergo physical changes, but also behavioral changes. Therefore, your chicken may be a little frustrated, depressed, or scared for no good reason. They can hide in the dark side so you don't interact with others. They may also be quieter than before.
As their new feathers begin to grow, you should try to avoid handling them at all. These prickly feathers contain blood vessels and stimulate the follicular nerves, so it hurts them to touch these new feathers. If the feathers on the body are broken, they can bleed profusely. Once the feathers are fully grown, the bleeding stops.
You can also see a rustling of something like dandruff under the perch. These are the remnants of the waxy covering that all new feathers start with - nothing to worry about, it's completely natural.
In general, you should expect the shedding to stop within 12 weeks. As a side note, once all the feathers have dropped, it's the perfect time to clear your chicken coop for fall.

Molting time (when and how long)
So when do chickens molt? Chickens will begin to molt in the fall as they slowly age.
The decrease in daylight triggers autumn and you will start to see different feathers than usual on the ground. Those who molt fast are said to be the best grade and those who molt slowly are the poor grade.
Some members of your flock may experience severe molting (this is where all their feathers are lost in a short period of time). Although others will slowly melt and lose a few feathers here and there for a long time. It can be so subtle that you don't notice it. The degree of molting varies from chicken to chicken, and each chicken will experience a different molt each year.
How long do chickens molt? 

The molting period will last 4 to 12 weeks depending on the chicken. On average, this will take 7-8 weeks. If you look at them carefully, you will find that the molting process happen in a predesignated manner. They will start by shedding the feathers on their head and neck. It will also extend to the chest and back, to the wings and finally to the tail.

Molting care guide

 During the molt you need to watch your flock carefully for signs of disease. They are more prone to health problems like coryza and other viral diseases when they molt.
You should feed them a protein-rich diet during this time to help them fight off any infections that may arise.

This is also a good time to check their skin. You should be able to clearly see the skin folds as the pin feathers grow. You should look for any signs of inflammation (bites or mites) and treat if you are diagnosed.
If your chickens start molting in the fall, hypothermia (low body  temperature) can be a real problem for them. To help them stay warm, make sure there is plenty of grass or bedding to lie on at night. The grass keeps a little light, and it will cover them well. You can also consider getting a chicken coop.
In any case, you should put chicken sweaters or other types of clothing on the moving bird. At this time, their feathers are very sensitive, so putting a sweater on them will cause unnecessary pain and discomfort.
Pay attention to the hen that are low in pecking oder. These meats are full of protein and larger chickens may decide to pick on and harass members of the shyer flock.
Once the blood is shed, it will become boring and your chicken can be seriously injured. If the problem is severe, you may need to isolate shy girls until they are older.
When reintroduce injured chicken, be sure to do it right - a complete guide to introducing new chickens to your flock. This type of pecking is not common, but it is a sign that they need more protein. So be sure to increase their protein intake accordingly. 


What to eat during molting
During molting, your chicken needs a lot of protein.
Feather are about 85% protein, so your chickens need to increase their protein in order to maintain good health and grow new feathers.

 You can help them by increasing the protein content of their diet from 16% to 20% during molting. You can feed game birds (28%) during the autumn season if you want, but remember that high protein for a long time can cause health problems, so make sure you stop high protein feeding as soon as they are finished. They can also eat treats and snacks that contain protein. Foods like canned tuna, scrambled eggs, and cat food are high in protein. Medicines such as worm food, black sunflower seeds and fish pellets will help.
Be careful with fish pellets: they contain a lot of protein (up to 35%), so use them sparingly as a treat. Some people also sprinkle cod liver oil on their mixed foods. About two tablespoons per 5 lbs of food once every two weeks - too much oil will spoil the taste of their eggs!
If you want to make them warm, the occasional treat of freshly cooked corn and nuts and seeds is usually a great hit. Finally, make sure they have plenty of clean water.
You can also add vitamin powder or electrolyte solution to water to make them better. My chickens stopped laying eggs during the molt
My hens have stopped laying during molting
At this time, egg laying will decrease significantly and stop completely for some time. They can't make eggs at the same time, because it takes a lot of energy.
In addition, because molting is during fall the number of hours of daylight decreases
When the daylight drops below a certain amount, the chicken's body starts to produce prolactin. Prolactin causes a decrease in their fertility.
Egg laying will resume quickly after molting is complete and the required amount of daylight arrives. If you want them to start laying eggs quickly, you need to light the coop.

Top 5 tips to help chickens go through molting

  • Make sure you feed them a good diet with high protein (20% or more).
  • Give them clean water and added vitamin and electrolyte powder.
  • In the coop, make sure there is plenty of clean and soft bedding. 
  • You should keep stress to a minimum. This means no guests, no changes and no additions to the flock.
  • For an extra boost, give them protein-rich treats such as cat food, tuna, scrambled eggs and sunflower seeds.


The fact that they also stop laying eggs reminds us that winter is a time of rest and renewal for all living things. It is important for your girl to have a break from laying eggs.
The good news is that once the molt is over, they will look great with their shiny new feathers and go back to their normal.All that's left is for the days to get longer so they can lay those delicious eggs again!  

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