Year after year molting occurs and it never seems like it comes to an end fast enough! My poor hens seem like they are bald forever. So how long do chickens really molt for?
In this article I’ll cover all the details!
One day if you walk out into the chicken coop and find piles of feathers and a bunch of bald hens, don’t worry!
It’s definitely not a pretty site and it’s actually one of my least favorite times of year. But I can almost guarantee it’s just molting season so there isn’t anything to worry about.
But during this time I’m sure there are lots of questions running through your mind, such as:
How long do chickens molt for?
What can you do to help them?
When and how often do they molt?
So let’s get into it!
How Long Do Chickens Molt
The answer to this varies depending on age, health, and diet. But the important thing to note is that all chickens molt and it’s perfectly natural.
Hens will molt much more severely than roosters so you may not even notice when your rooster is going through molt.
And it may take some of your chickens longer than others to grow in their feathers, but eventually they will all be fully feathered and beautiful again!
Annual molt will typically take place between September and November as shorter days arrive.
Depending on Age:
The length and severity of the molting process will vary for each chicken but the first big factor is age.
If your chickens are young hens who were born in that same year, they should only go through a light molt, which may not even be noticeable.
If your chickens are over a year old they should go through a heavy molt each year, which means they will lose a majority of their feathers and grow in a new, thicker set in order to prepare for the winter.
The length of time from start to finish is usually about 8 weeks but can take as long as 16 weeks.
Depending on Diet:
Another big factor involved with how long the molting process lasts for is diet.
All throughout the year chickens should be on a diet that mainly consists of a good quality layer feed.
But when chickens are molting it takes so much protein to grow in new feathers, you should add additional high protein foods to their diet to help them through the process faster.
A few foods I recommend are:
The Nutrena feather fixer feed can be fed as a replacement to their normal layer feed during the entire time when your chickens are molting.
You can even start feeding it a few weeks before you expect molt to start.
I like to keep my chicken feeder full and allow my hens to free feed, eating as much of this feed as they want.
Then with the black oil sunflower seeds and the cat food, you should just feed a few handfuls a day or every couple days to give them additional protein.
By adding in the additional protein you can cut the molting process in half!
What to Expect During the Molting Process
Hopefully your molting chickens will get through the process quick and be fully feathered before you know it, but during that time there are a few things you should expect.
The first likely thing is that their egg production will drastically decrease or stop completely.
But if you are feeding a high protein chicken feed and adding in additional high protein foods their egg laying may continue as normal or just be slightly less than normal.
How to Help Your Chickens While They Are Molting
During this time of feather loss, it’s important to be extra careful while handling your chickens.
If possible you should avoid picking them up or playing with them because as the pin feathers start to come through it can be painful for them if you touch them.
Another thing you should pay attention to is how the other flock members are treating one another.
If one of the chickens happens to get a sore on their bare skin other chickens may try pecking at it. So if this happens treat the wound with something such as blue kote or separate the hurt chicken until the wound is healed.
Another thing you can do to help keep your flock healthy during this time is clean your chicken coop.
Since they are not fully feathered and they have skin exposed, the cleaner the chicken coop, nesting boxes, and chicken run can be, the better!
So whether you’ve experienced molt before of if this is your first time seeing it don’t worry!
How long your chickens molt for will vary from chicken to chicken and from year to year, but as long as your giving them additional protein and keeping their coop area clean they will stay healthy and be fully feathered before you know it!
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