Dec 30, 2011

Molting. What is it and How to Help Chickens Get Through It

White Bantam Cochin Frizzle mid-molt
It's late summer/early autumn and the floor of the coop looks like a pillow fight broke out overnight. Assuming the flock is healthy with no external parasites or other problems, they are most assuredly molting. Let's discuss what molting is, when it occurs and what can be done to help get chickens get through it.

Molting is the natural 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 or sudden change in normal lighting conditions. Broody hens molt furiously after their eggs have hatched as they return to their normal eating and drinking routines.
Phoebe molting right on time in October
This is Phoebe, my bantam Frizzle Cochin in October 2010.
Bantam Cochin Frizzle molting furiously
This is Phoebe in September 2011. She has always been my most severe molter.
First Juvenile 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.
First Juvenile Molt happens at 6-8 days old
This is a 7 day old Olive Egger chick. She is losing her yellow down, which is being replaced by her first feathers.
First juvenile molt in chickens replaces down with first feathers
This pic shows the same 7 day old Olive Egger chick as she replaces her down with feathers.
Second Juvenile Molt
The second mini molt occurs between 7-12 weeks old and the chicken's first feathers are replaced by its second feathers. It is at this time that a rooster's distinguishing, ornamental feathers will appear.
second juvenile molt occurs between 7-12 weeks old
These Black Copper Marans & Ameraucanas were 11 weeks old at the time of their second mini molt.
The second juvenile molt creates a broken feather-bed scene in the chicken coop
There is little doubt when chickens are going through their juvenile molt as evidence abounds in the coop.
Buff Orpington hen molting
Annual Molt
All chickens will molt annually, their first annual molt generally occurring around 16-18 months of age. During a molt, chickens will lose their feathers and grow new ones. Feathers consist of 85% protein and feather production places great demands on a chicken's energy and nutrient stores, as a result, egg production is likely to drop or stop entirely until the molt is finished. On average, molting takes 7-8 weeks from start to finish, but there is a wide range of normal from 4 to 12 weeks or more.

Both molting and egg production are controlled internally in response to lighting changes. When daylight hours decrease, egg production may slow down or stop completely and chickens will shed their feathers and grow new ones. When spring approaches and daytime lengthens, egg production will pick up again. To encourage egg production, supplemental light may be added to the coop during the fall and winter months with no negative effects on the hen.

These are photos of a few of my chickens undergoing an typical molt:
Molting Easter Egger hen
Lucy (Easter Egger)
Australorp hen molting
Agnes (Australorp)
This is Phoebe, my White Bantam Cochin Frizzle, who is the poster chicken for a rough molt. She has molted in this most undignified manner for the past two years. She's a trooper though, I have yet to hear her demand a sweater.
rough molt on this bantam cochin frizzle
Bantam cochin frizzle molting
bantam cochin frizzle molting
 Newly emerging feathers have a vein-filled shaft which will bleed if cut or injured. These pin feathers are very sensitive and chickens generally prefer not to be handled while molting as it can be quite painful.
Newly emerging feathers have a vein-filled shaft which bleeds when injured.
Feathers emerging through the vein-filled shaft, which is covered by a waxy coating.
New feathers emerge through a vein-filled shaft, which is covered by a waxy coating
An injured shaft is visible in this photo as a black spot of dried blood on top of the feather shaft.
Injured feather shaft
Pin feather injuries can bleed quite a lot.
Windy is a Blue Splash Marans hen who had injured one feather shaft, which bled profusely even though the injury was minor. A bird with a bleeding pin feather should be removed from the flock for treatment and their own safety; if not removed from the flock, other birds can pick at the wound, making it worse and endangering the bird's life. The injured area should be washed and assessed. If the bleeding has stopped, soaking feet in a tub or sink of warm water, then clean with Vetericyn Wound & Infection spray or antibiotic ointment and keep the bird separate from the flock until fully healed.
If the bleeding will not stop, the pinfeather should be removed with tweezers by grasping it at the base close to the skin and pulling quickly. Apply light pressure to the area until bleeding stops. Apply a little Vetericyn Wound & Infection spray or antibiotic ointment to the area and keep the bird separate from the flock until healed, usually a day or two. 
injured pin feathers can be plucked from the base of the shaft to stop the bleeding.
This was the source and extent of the injury on the Marans, above.
A waxy-type casing surrounds each new feather and either falls off or is removed by a preening chicken. The feather within then unfurls and the inner vein dries up (the shaft is then known as a quill).
Lots of shaft casings are visible on the droppings board in this photo:
Feather shaft casings aplenty on the droppings board in the morning
This is one night's worth of pin feather coatings.
Newly emerging feathers unfurl and the waxy casings are shed.
This picture shows the new feathers on the back of Rachel's neck are losing the last of the waxy casings.
 How to help Chickens Weather a Molt
& Return to Egg Production


There are a few things that can be done to help chickens get through a molt a little bit easier:

1.  Reduce their stress level as much as possible. Try not to move them to a new living quarters or introduce any new flock members.
Partridge Plymouth Rock hen molting very quickly

2. Increase their protein intake by switching to a feed containing  20-22% protein. This is easiest to manage with commercially prepared chicken feeds (eg: switch from layer feed to meat bird feed for a month or so).

3. Limit handling to avoid inflicting pain and to keep stress to a minimum.
limit handling of molting chickens to keep stress and discomfort to a minimum
Rachel's neck feathers are just beginning to emerge. It looks painful and it is painful.

4. Supplement their daily diet with any of the following: molt muffins, black oil sunflower seeds, tuna fish, cooked eggs, homemade flock block substitute, soybean meal, cat food*, (as it contains animal proteins) peas, beans, fish meal.
supplemental protein can help molting hens with their protein supply
Molt Muffins are a great way to get that extra protein into their diet. Get the recipe here!

Caution should be exercised when supplementing the diet with protein- everything in moderation. Large amounts of protein can lead to diarrhea and other, serious problems. "Incorrect diets that contain excessive levels of protein causes wetter droppings since the extra protein is converted into urates. This causes your chicken to drink more therefore you will see an increase in urates leading to wet, damp bedding."

*NOTE about cat food: cat food should only be given to chickens in moderation for a limited period of time due to the potential for ingesting excessive amounts of methionine, which can result in Heinz-body anemia and death.

Remarkably, within a few weeks, dull and balding turns to shiny and voluminous.
Molting Bantam Cochin Frizzle.
September 11, 2011 (above) November 11, 2011 (below)
Disclaimer The-Chicken-Chick.com
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

258 comments :

  1. Thanks, really good info!
    Cathy, who has no clue how to post as comment as anything but Anonymous! lol

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  2. @Cathy: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post.

    Now any time anyone signs a comment as 'Anynymous' I will simply assume it was you! lol

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this. Very informative. The pictures were great also. With my Polish it looked like he had a tiny plastic tubing with the tip of a feather sticking out. I didn't know what to think at first. I had read chickens don't molt during their first year so that's what threw me off. My other chickens have not molted and they are younger than him. You did state they molt at different times. Poor Phoebe, she looked so pitiful, then I saw her new beautiful feathers. What a frizzled beauty. Thanks for sending me the message on Hen Haven. This is a article I didn't need to miss.

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  4. Very good information, especially with the pictures to illustrate. Thanks for sharing. I have a couple that are going through their first molt. Nothing too serious though.


    McClains Crazy Aces Farm
    Pennsylvania

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  5. Thanks for sharing. I have a Wyandotte that has been molting since Oct 28th. I just about freaked when I opened the coop one morning and saw all the feathers and this balding bird. She's now starting to look good.

    Regards, Patti

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  6. thanks, this is helpful information. My poor little 2 year old Polish hen is molting and not in the best of spirits, but she doesn't look like poor Phoebe (yet:-). She is still at the bottom of the peck order and gets shoved around by the RIR's and Barred Rocks who are all so much bigger than she is. They push her off the food and peck at her as she runs by trying to avoid them. Now I understand why she is running from me too, as she used to readily let me pick her up and now she runs from me. Doesn't seem to mind being petted when she is on a roost and once I am holding her she doesn't struggle to get away...must hurt to be picked up. Now I feel awful:-( I have been feeding her a handful of scratch with dry cat food and her appetite is good and so is her poop but she isn't a happy camper right now. Seems unfair too since its cold weather in Ohio when she is losing her feather sweater. She also stopped laying but that I knew was from the molt.

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  7. @mysticgmekeepr: To help your little Polish get through the molt, skip the scratch and give her just the high-protein snacks mentioned. The scratch is just like candy for them, they love it but it's not really nutritious.

    The drop in egg production also has to do with the shortened daylight hours. If you're inclined to give it a boost, add some supplemental light to the coop and they'll all be back laying like champs within 10 days! Here's my blog post that discusses how to: http://eggcartonlabels.blogspot.com/2011/09/supplemental-light-in-coop-why-how.html

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  8. I sure wish I would have known you last summer, when all this information would have been so helpful, I had to find out the hard way, reaserch on the internet... Another problem I had, way they didn't seem to be very hungry, so i had to become creative in my food selections. Jackie

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  9. Annually means once a year, is that now Feb. to ....? Or can a molt happen at other times as well? I know mine r molting but don' really understand the time, when. Sorry I'm quite literal.

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    1. That's a great question. Molting can happen any time of the year but is ordinarily hormonally driven by a decrease in daylight hours.
      Other factors,such as illness or stress, can cause a molt at other times of the year. Those types of molts tend not to be a full molt.
      Thanks for asking!

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  10. Loretta Forman3/29/12, 9:20 AM

    this article is very helpful! i have 3 stages of chickens right now all going through a molt including egg layers! Im glad to know what to do to help them stay comfortable. Love the pics hahah its nice to see they will look like pretty chickens again soon!

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  11. Is it possible that the other hens would start picking at the molting hens as they now looking "different" ?? I had a few that were just bullies and had to remove them from the main coop. They were constantly picking at the missing plumage spots and the new growth ("pins") ??

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  12. robin mcdowell4/30/12, 9:24 AM

    My girls look like thay have been in war when they molt. My yard has feathers everywhere but the wild birds love to take those feathers and build nest with them. cremesoda34@yahoo.com

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  13. Your poor baby she looked terrible during her molt.
    Added you to google
    hollyrosintoski@gmail.com

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  14. Oh, I hope I can win. I currently have a rescued Muscovy drake, who is limping, and molting. I upped his protein, but I bet he would LOVE this...so would my girls ( and guys.)
    Debbie Cox..
    justusnak@aol.com

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  15. So, it sounds like I should expect my girls to go through their first molt this fall. I'll get prepared! Thanks for the info! Oh, and they LOVE LOVE dried mealworms! Already a follower of course! LOL

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  16. So glad I found your blog & facebook, I'm new to keeping chickens
    Kim
    MnKHarden@gmail.com

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  17. The first time I saw my girls like this, I freaked! I looked to see if a predator had gotten ahold of them, feathers everywhere! Thank you for the info!!
    Amy Kalna
    aeklmt@ymail.com

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  18. I always give my girls some dried meal worms...more then normal during this time to boost protein levels

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  19. My chicks would love these treats!!!
    This was the first time I read this post! I guess I didn't realize that chickens molted like your beauty Pheobe, I thought they all lost a few feathers. Thank you for the great information & all the pictures to help teach us "newbie chicken moms"
    audreysiebert@gmail.com
    Audrey Siebert - facebook

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  20. Good Morning! I have yet to go through the chickens first molt. It should happen this year. I'm glad I have a spot to look up info tho.


    eposegate@hotmail.com

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  21. I will definitely keep all this in mind when my chicks start their molt. Your poor frizzle girl! Such a beautiful bird and she looks so sad when molting. Good to know she gets her unique hairdo back in no time! :)

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    1. Tina, congratulations on winning the Happy Hen Treats prize package!! Please send me your email address to claim your prize within 48 hours. service@CustomEggCartonLabels.com

      Thank you!

      Delete
  22. My hens and babies would love the treats! I currently have 2 molting hens and will defihitely help them out using this information:)
    rhodeislandredchickens@gmail.com

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  23. Wow I love all the info. Thanks so much

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  24. I am so glad to have found your blog! Great info. I can't wait to read more! Lindsayp22@hotmail.com

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  25. now that is a lot of pin feathers. I am familiar with them I have kept birds for many years, currently a cockatoo. But she never had this many. Looks painful.

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  26. and btw, thank you for sharing your experiences with us, you may or may not realize how much help it is for us newbies. I just can't read enough to try and learn what I can about them in order to make them comfortable and happy for providing us with sustenance.

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    1. That's really nice of you to say, Susan. I remember being brand new to keeping chickens and I couldn't get my hands on enough information either.
      Please let me know if you ever have questions I can help with. :)

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  27. Michele Chlebik4/30/12, 10:52 AM

    This article explains why I find feathers in the yard like someone busted a pillow. Great article.

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  28. great info, and i also like reading the comments as part of the blog too, ive noticed a lot of good questions get asked, like some i might forget or think, "YEA! good point!"n but when they get answered, it turns the blog from reading an informative artice into a real learning experence.

    Thanks

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  29. Well she looks wonderful when she's done molting!

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  30. Thank you for posting about molting. Great information. I keep checking my girls and expect them to start molting anytime. They turned one year old around March 23. I have noticed extra feathers laying about in their coop. My girls love the chicken treats, especially the meal worms! I haven't seen the treat balls yet but bet the girls would love one. Thanks again! Natalie

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  31. Esther Widgren4/30/12, 12:16 PM

    My chicks are now 5 weeks old and I've seen a few loose feathers. Reading this article makes me wonder if they're not starting their second molt, perhaps a bit early? This is my first time with chickens so all is new to me :-)

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  32. She looks cold naked. Do you have to provide more heat for them? Mine are still babies - I haven't gone through a big girl molt yet!

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    1. No, I don't find that they require any heat. They manage well snuggled in among the other hens at night.

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  33. GREAT info. Filing this away to refer back to when the time comes.

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  34. Cindy Duppong4/30/12, 1:30 PM

    Interesting to learn about all the 'baby' molts. They sure change as they grow.

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  35. So bad to look at but so needed, thanks for the post Julie kharramba@frontier.com

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  36. You have great information on you facebook page and on your blog! Cheep Cheep loves you! luvschickens@hotmail.com

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  37. What happens if you have supplemental lighting? Will they ever molt? My dad put lights on a timer so my girls would keep laying through the winter. They are inly a year old , but they didn't molt last fall. Is that bc of the lighting? Bkuhail@gmail.com

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    1. They will eventually molt, Bernadette. Great question. I provide supplemental light for my hens too and they seem to molt at different times.

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  38. Crystal19574/30/12, 3:56 PM

    Would love to try the treats...my girls are always looking for 'bugs' to eat...I have heard that mealworms are like potato chips for chickens...I worry about the regular live earthworms and these look like they would be nutritional and safe. Crossing my fingers for my girls. Thanks so much.

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    1. True story, Crystal, they're very well appreciated by the chickens!

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  39. I never thought to up their protein by giving them meat bird feed. Usually I mix in some dry cat feed, but I'm sure the meat bird feed is healthier for them since it's made for chickens. I've also never gave mine black oil sunflower seeds. My poor deprived chickens. Thanks for the good advice as usual.

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  40. Amanda Yelverton4/30/12, 4:07 PM

    Thanks for the info! I was wondering why my girls were not laying very well!

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  41. Can you tell which ones are roosters (by looking at feathers) before their 7week old molt? Thanks for the advice on molting. Mine are 5 weeks old and I am noticing the fuzz being replaced by feathers. Also, I am seeing a lot of pin feathers coming in...should I be careful when handling my chicks because of this? rlb118@hotmail.com

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    1. You can tell sometimes by the comb, wattles and/or posture of roos early on.

      The pin feathers are sensitive as they have veins in them, so the chickens should be handled as little as possible during the time when they are growing back.

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  42. My girls are 13 months so I'm guessing they should be going thru some type of molting in a month or so? Some of them molted in Sept/Oct in various degrees. Your EE, Lucy, looks like a cross between my two EEs, Stella (gold with black) & Rosie (brown & black, with black/gold hackle feathers).

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  43. Phoebe is delightful! I didn't know that the pin feathers were sensitive.

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  44. Poor Phoebe. LOL!!
    Great info. I can easily add to my girls nutritional needs with peas, tuna, eggs and 'catfood'!! I know that a lot of hens will steal dry catfood if given a chance. And since I have 3 cats to feed, i always have a big supply of dry in the house.
    Thanks, De Peaslee mpeaslee@maine.rr.com

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  45. Great pictures for the topic! :)

    Shellie
    smw4211966@sbcglobal.net

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  46. Great Photos

    Spencer Knight
    spencerknight12@yahoo.com

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  47. Great info, and my chickens just love the meal worm frenzy, they would be in heaven with all those treats!! :)

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  48. Thanks for the info,pictures always help with the understanding of chickens!

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  49. Thank you for the information. Since I am new to chickens I will now know what to expect.

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  50. omg!!! molting u never seen molting such as having cinnamon queens ugh they r molting machines!!!!!

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  51. The first time my ducks molded, it looked like a feather pillow exploded!! I thought something had gotten in the coop and killed one. Lol. I guess all of us newbies go through things like that.

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  52. Jenn Nashoba4/30/12, 9:31 PM

    Awww....I just want to knit Phoebe her first little sweater... bless her little heart!

    I used to have 2 Sphinx cats... the hairless ones... and we would make them sweatshirts out of a thermal sock! Just cut off the toe, make holes for the front legs just beneath and to either side of the heel, and crochet or whip-stitch around all the cut edges!! I wonder if something like that would work?...

    Jenn

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    1. Jenn, she really didn't need a sweater, she was fine in the coop at night with the other chickens.

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  53. We'll be going through our first molt with our oldest gals this fall... after doing a lot of reading, I'm mildly interested to see what happens! We just got our first ducks a few months ago and I never even considered that they'd molt too... looks like I'll need to figure out what to do with all the feathers come fall! O_O

    Sarah

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  54. Thank you so much for taking your time to share this with us. How do you feel about putting a sweater on a chicken that molted severely?

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    1. My pleasure! I don't think sweaters are necessary on a severely molting chicken. If it is extremely cold outside, the chicken can either be kept inside the coop where it is warmer or, if it makes you feel better about it and you have crocheting skills, go ahead and put a sweater on her. But necessary? No.

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  55. My chickens have been eating their molted feathers (any feathers lying on the ground). My guess is they're trying to recoupe any lost protein?

    ~Chel

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    1. Hi Chel. Molting is very demanding from a protein intake perspective. As you know from reading this blog post, we can help them get through it with a little less stress and demand on their bodies by supplementing their diet with protein. They could be eating the feathers for that reason, although I read somewhere once that feathers don't serve that purpose when eaten.

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  56. renee ybarra6/24/12, 4:36 PM

    my hens are about a year and a half and there are a few that have lost there feathers and almost look scarry one a leghorn is setting and molting at the same time she's the scarriest of them and some buffs are starting they are not all molting at the same time. I really thought the rooster was pecking them but we got rid of the rooster and it is still happning so ow well to late for the rooster a beautifull ameracana i really did like him. we had a sick on that died so i've been watching then hard i hope theres nothing going in other than molting so i will say by for now and i will be coming back to read more thank for the info i fell much better now.

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    1. I'm happy to know that this information was helpful to you. Thanks!

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  57. Great information! I have one hen molting and she has stopped laying eggs. Flo looks odd but I love picking up her pretty feathers and making feather bouquets!She is a Campine a little skittish but curious and friends with the Buff Wyndots.

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  58. At the 2nd juvenile molt, I came out one day and thought they had been fighting and pulling each others' feathers out! I was so happy to know that they were just fine and not fighting while I was away!

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  59. Thanks! Now i know what to expect and how to help them out.

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  60. Aww the sweet little dears!! Even if they are molting, they're still little cuties to me :) Not sure how the Grit Mag. contest works. The second rule... do I just comment anywhere? Or does there need to be a specific spot?

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    1. Sorry Ashley, the link is here: http://www.grit.com/the-chicken-chick/molting-what-is-it--how-to-help-chickens-get-through-it.aspx

      Delete
  61. Great info. Will give the sad looking girls some black sunflower seeds. I've got a a very pathetic looking three year old Easter-egger right now.

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  62. My 14 girls roam by backyard and their feathers are everywhere. I go on what I call "feather patrol" once a day if not more to collect the wing and better 2nd feathers as I have been making earrings out of them. I have 7 different breeds and haven't seen one yet molt to the extent as your pictures have shown. They are about 19 weeks and no eggs yet. But we are very hopeful and all my girls are healthly and very friendly and seem to be very happy.

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    1. I've never seen a worse molt either! Poor Phoebe.

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  63. Thanks for the great info! My youngest chicks just recently finished their second juvenile molt. There are feathers EVERYWHERE!

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  64. Great info...as always :)

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  65. i didnt know that about the cat food my chickens got into my cats food and i thought it would be crappy for the eggs so that makes me feel better about that now i have a bug zapper and they run to it first thing in the morning when i let them out my chickens dont do to bad i think because i let them out and let them go everywhere. thanks your chickens are beautiful by the way

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  66. A family friend has the "Lard: Cooking With Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient" book and she loves it. I'm going to be getting a few heritage pigs in the fall to raise on my farm and I am so excited about getting lard from them. A couple of my girls just got over a molt. I felt so bad for them. They looked miserable. :-/

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  67. I've been finding a few feathers in the coop each day. I was going crazy trying to find bugs, but didn't see any. And I knew they weren't fighting because they all get along so well. They look very healthy too. So I was very happy to hear they have mini molts. My Abby (the one who's losing feathers) is 8 wks. old. And funny, I just happen to have black oil sunflower seeds on hand that I bought just yesterday. I had seen on another site that people were giving their hens BOSS. So of course I had to find out what it was. I'll be giving them some of those daily. Thanks for the article on molting....certainly calmed my newbie nerves.

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  68. Just got my girls a mister today with Ok temps at 112 today....they are loving me!

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    1. Good for them!! 112 is unreasonable. :(

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  69. Thank you so much for the information, I have new chicks who have recently gone thru molting this has been very needed information for me as I am new to chicken raising. I would love to win your drawing. Thank you, Cathy.

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  70. Very informative, Thanks!

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  71. All my younger ones are going through a teenage molt, feathers everywhere! Thanks for the info: )

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  72. As always great info!! Just in time too I think my girls are getting ready to molt. Egg production is WAY down. Going right now to give them some black oil sunflower seeds!

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  73. thanks for this post about Molting I have had chickens for several years now and I am always learning new things. I am little confused about something though and maybe u can clarify it for me.
    I have just heard by my youngest daughter who is 17 that its not safe to give chickens cat food. She says it has some sort of Chemical in it that is not safe for them. We do give it to the peacocks sense it is suppose to help bring out their coloring. So is it really okay to give our chickens Cat Food?
    deana

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  74. thanks for this post about Molting I have had chickens for several years now and I am always learning new things. I am little confused about something though and maybe u can clarify it for me.
    I have just heard by my youngest daughter who is 17 that its not safe to give chickens cat food. She says it has some sort of Chemical in it that is not safe for them. We do give it to the peacocks sense it is suppose to help bring out their coloring. So is it really okay to give our chickens Cat Food?
    deana

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  75. love all the information you share

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  76. thanks for all the info you share with us

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  77. I am enjoying your blog immensely and I think it is so kind to do your giveaways. Have a blessed day

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  78. Awesome Kathy, I wish I would have known about this last year... Great information

    Jackie Hahn-Winans

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  79. Great information and awesome pictures!! This really helps since this is my first molt! Thank you!

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  80. you give the best information. thank you.

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  81. TheChickenChick10/19/12, 11:23 PM

    Thanks Antoinette, I hope it helps!

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  82. Thank you, great information, well written as usual!

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  83. TheChickenChick10/20/12, 9:47 PM

    Thank you, Antoinette, I hope it helps.

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  84. Hi ChickenChick....I'm new to keeping chickens.  I have 2 Pekin Bantams.  They are roughly 9 months old.  Daisy one of my girls has been shedding quite a few feathers recently.  Her neck and head are fairly bald but I can see some new feathers coming through (I think).  Is this normal for a chicken this age or should I be worried.  I purchased some poultry spice today which I will add to their layers pellets.  Also both girls have not laid any eggs for a good few weeks now.  I live in England by the way and the weather is on the change - autumn.  Thanks for reading.

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  85. TheChickenChick10/24/12, 2:15 PM

    That is all totally normal, no need to worry. :)

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  86. Thanks Chickenchick.  I feel a little better now knowing that  its normal.  Hoping to get some new girls on Sat...

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  87. Crusherbevdr10/26/12, 6:06 PM

    Thank you for such an informative article.  I'm raising my first flock and they just started molting.  I read this prior to now, but when I saw Esmeralda this morning I had to come back here and re-read.  She looks like Phoebe.  It seems like it happened overnight.  With your advice, I didn't panic and this weekend I'm going to the feed store and buying a bag of meat producing feed.  Do I have to worry about them getting too cold?  Its been in the low 30's and high 20's here.

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  88. TheChickenChick10/26/12, 8:34 PM

    You don't have to worry about them getting cold. They'll be fine. :)

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  89. That was really informative and interesting! 

    New follower of your awesome blog!

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  90. Thank you!!  After reading this, I do think the girls mayb e going through a molt!  I am seeing many more loose feathers in the run and on the floor of the coop.  They are exactly the right age for the first annual molt.  and Egg production is sudden gone!  Going to try the tips listed!

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  91. Thanks Kathy, great info. I just got chickens after 35 years of not having any. Now if my pullets will start laying.

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  92. Frizzles are notorious for sever molts. I have several and they always look like Phoebe during their molts =) I'm always afraid someone will think they are sick if they stop by this time of year!

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  93. Mine are too young to molt -  but I do have a couple with bare butts. They look totally healthy otherwise, no runs, no red butt, no sign that someone else is pulling the feathers.  We have no rooster, so it's not brooding behavior - or is it?

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  94. TheChickenChick11/19/12, 9:15 AM

    How old are they and what breeds, Lisa?

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  95. Just love the pics and detailed info.
    A question if that's ok. I have 2 new to me mid aged??? cichins. Both have all the throat feathers missing. None of the others gotten in this addition have this. They don't show signs of moult. One is raggidy, lol. The other is a blue that has turned tan/brown. Like very faded colors. Could this be a sign of a slow moulter? They have had this for 1 month. TIA. Ans, thanks again for the wealth of knowledge you share!

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  96. TheChickenChick11/20/12, 11:31 PM

    The missing neck feathers are likely the beginning of the molt, Sarah.'Tis the season!

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  97. Great, the poor gals need it! TY. :)

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  98. Thank you so much for all of your very valuable information. I would be lost on how to give my girls the best, without people like you helping! <3

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  99. murphyboysmom19911/7/13, 1:31 PM

    Hi, Kathy! I have a question for you. We have 7 Barred Rocks, that hatched out late Feb/early Mar 2012. Here in the past week, egg production has dropped from about 5 eggs a day to 1 a day. While I realize it will change during the winter, I have also noticed feathers laying around the coop and run, but I don't notice any signs of parasites. Is it possible they are early molters?

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  100. TheChickenChick1/9/13, 12:00 AM

    It is possible, particularly if you're noticing lots of feathers and nobody is pulling them out.

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  101. Hi Kathy,     I am truly amazed every time I see a picture of Frieda!  She is always SO clean and fluffy!  Do you prep her for her close up?

     I got my first chicks last spring, turned out I had  6 white silkies, and 4 white leghorns or jerseys.  Due to predators, the flock is down to 2 white silkies and 3 of the others.  I love them.  But they are NEVER white!!!

    Elvis was the worst (RIP) she would roost lower than the others, and got pooped on... a lot.  All of my girls sunbathed in my black mulch flower beds - the silkies looked like grey ruffles skirted can can dancers from the back.  They all got covered in pollen and yeukky slug guts...

    I just love the iridescent ears,  but Holy Moly, they get filthy!!!

     Fess up Kathy, you secretly bathe Frieda and use a blow drier on her don't you???  Special whitening shampoo too, I bet.....  LOL

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  102. TheChickenChick2/21/13, 8:22 PM

    Nope! She has had one bath in all her years, Susie, and that's only because someone pooped on her back in the middle of winter. I HAD to give her a bath then! lol She takes care of the rest herself!

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    ReplyDelete
  104. Jessikoala032/27/13, 10:12 AM

    Hi Kathy,  I am new to chicken raising.  We received our babies last February and they have been laying really good, even during the winter.  They are slowing down now, though.  They are taken care of, fed daily. have water all the time.  My husband says our Australorps look like their feathers are changing.  Can they be molting? 

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  105. Wow you are surely the chicken guru, tons of interesting facts! My friend in CO. some has free range hens that are super friendly & tame & all named! They lay lovely green, blue & other colored eggs & I will refer her to your blog in case she ever needs info. on her hens!
    I recently found a local source here in Phx. for cage free eggs so I am really happy to have them.

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  106. TheChickenChick3/12/13, 12:55 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  107. Thanks Kathy for several ideas on giving extra protein. I had heard they need extra protein, but wasn't sure how to go about it.

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  108. Thanks for the photos and info. One of my girls is molting like Phiebe. I was worried as noneof the others have ever done that. But I feel better now :)

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  109. Thank you! I am new to being a flock owner and I knew nothing of moulting. This was very informative!

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  110. Oh, the poor babes! I didn't realize it was painful for them. (Thankfully *?* I'm not a chicken keeper yet, so I haven't inadvertently done anyone harm by my ignorance!)

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  111. Tina Favara4/29/13, 9:37 PM

    great article, Thank You!

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  112. I am getting my chickens in July and I am SO thankful for your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!! Extremely helpful!

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  113. Jennifer Fule6/9/13, 9:58 PM

    All four of our chickens have lost their feathers above the tails and underneath. It's nothing but really red skin. It started in the fall and still looks just as bad. We have been spraying for mites, and I don't think they would still be molting. I don't know what else to do for my poor little girls. Anyone have any suggestions?

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  114. TheChickenChick6/10/13, 9:02 PM

    Fun! Enjoy your new pets, Sarah!

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  115. TheChickenChick6/10/13, 9:28 PM

    Jennifer, read this post to see if you can identify any other issues that may be going on with your chickens: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/03/chicken-feather-loss-cannibalism-causes.html

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  116. Donamarie Goldsmith6/13/13, 3:23 PM

    I love your site, it has a lot of useful information. One of your links goes nowhere. I was tring to find your recipe for homemade flock block substitute and it isn't at the end of the link.

    I particularly liked the info on juvinile molt. I have 1 1/2 week old australorpes. They are fantastic.

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  117. TheChickenChick6/13/13, 8:49 PM

    Thank you for the heads-up on the broken link! I fixed it. Here's my Flock Block Substitute recipe: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html

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  118. Donamarie Goldsmith6/18/13, 8:38 PM

    Thank you for fixing the link

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  119. colette dubois7/2/13, 4:19 AM

    hi kathy, i'm a new chicken owner and have 24 australorp chicks, two weeks, and five caramel queens, six days old. i'm seeing baldness on the largest chick, as you said, neck, quite definitive, and the underside of the wings. i don't see any lice or anything, hard to tell since they're black and in wood shavings. not seeing any pecking by others or by itself, and it appears as though others are starting with the same thing. how do i now if this a molt??? please help. not sure what to do. they're on medicated starter and i am considering some vitamins. i'll be forever grateful for any advice. i'll get a friend to help me tomorrow so i can take some pictures...
    colette

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  120. TheChickenChick7/2/13, 10:51 PM

    If it doesn't look like someone is picking the area, it's probably normal.

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  121. colette dubois7/3/13, 3:35 AM

    oh thank goodness... they're all getting it... is it normal to "preen" as this occurring? they're starting to do that. kind of all at once, like they're following each ohter's lead. for example they got up from a sleep, ran around, ate, drank and started this preening thing. tonight for the first time i saw two of them doing this scritchyscratchy thing in the wood shavings, really like they were itchy and wanted to rub some wood shavings on it. it didn't look good to me. :( i dunno. i wasn't prepared for this, obviously. thanks for any more info you can give me. i'm going tomorrow to get some spray got fleas, lice and mites, hagen. in canada we don't have access to the good stuff you have in the states.

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  122. TheChickenChick7/3/13, 11:31 PM

    I think what you may have been witnessing was a rudimentary dust bath. You can read more about that here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/01/chicken-dust-baths-ultimate-spa.html

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  123. Joanne Caglione7/29/13, 2:18 PM

    thank you again for all you do!

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  124. If I add cat food during molt, do you recommend wet or dry? Do you have any brand preference or any that you would not use?

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  125. Linda Kirby8/1/13, 9:54 AM

    I have a girl that is loosing feathers at an alarming rate, but she hides from me all of the time. I have found her under bushes and in the back of the pen. I keep thinking she is sick, but when she comes out she doesn't act sick. Do they act like this when they molt?

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  126. Hi Kathy. One thing I would mention is this....if a feather shaft is bleeding, you can use a pair of hemostats to remove the entire quill by plucking it out. The bleeding stops immediately and a new one will start to grow. It might keep a bird from bleeding too much, which can cause more problems. this comes from many years of dealing with parrots, who can die quickly from blood loss.

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  127. As a new chicken mom (my babies are now a month old), now I know why they look so ragged. Thanks so much for this and all the other posts that have taught me alot. Big hugs

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  128. Kris Kirkland8/2/13, 3:34 PM

    Thank you for another great article. I had been thinking it was time to prepare for my first adult molt. Now I have a better idea of what to expect.

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  129. Would dog food be ok? My chickens love Pate' type canned cat food but price limits it to a treat. Do you think this would work for chickens as a waterer? http://fab.com/sale/23892?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=saturday_department_evening_list&utm_campaign=daily_department_mailer&navEmail=1&page=1

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  130. Pat Garcia8/9/13, 9:47 AM

    Thank You for sharing this info!!! I learn something everyday!!!

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  131. Lori Edmison8/11/13, 3:15 AM

    I learn something new every time I read your blogs :-)

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  132. Janine Jarrell8/26/13, 12:51 AM

    I have had a Dominique hen molting all summer long. She looks horrible. She is the only one molting. She really looks out of place!

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  133. Laura Aderholdt8/26/13, 8:17 AM

    Love your blogs - I have about 28 baby chick - just waiting to see how many hens vs. roos. Hopefully things will go the way I want - lol

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  134. Really helpful blog, great photos and info, many thanks

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  135. You have a very in depth and interesting blog and I learnt something new today, my girls are in fact molting. It is their first one and it really caught me off guard. Thanks for the advice and recipe for flock block, I'm going to try it.

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  136. Thank you for sharing at Back to the Basics for Tuesdays with a Twist!
    Have a wonderful week!

    http://back2basichealth.blogspot.com/2013/09/tuesdays-with-twist-24.html

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  137. This is good to know and the photos are great. Thank you.

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  138. TheChickenChick10/19/13, 8:42 PM

    Thanks Diane. :)

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  139. I just want to say thank you so much for this infomation me lovely little pekin coq is having his first moult and reading this has just put my mind to rest.. he is so friendly and cuddly normally and due to moult he was not wanting to be handled and sleeping loads i will make sure he gets a little more protien for the next few weeks! many many thanks.

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  140. TheChickenChick10/22/13, 12:35 AM

    My pleasure. :)

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  141. Jessica White10/22/13, 5:11 PM

    Hi! I'm a new flock owner. I have 17 chickens of various breeds. I feed them the egg layer pellets, they get turned out for about 4 hours in the afternoon when then weather is nice and I bring them in using chicken scratch. They all have always had really runny poop. Are they getting too much of something?? They seem happy and not really fat.

    Thanks!
    Jessica

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  142. TheChickenChick10/22/13, 9:03 PM

    If their droppings are always runny, that's a problem. Read this article and see what you think. I'd get a sample from several of them and ask a vet to do a fecal float test for you to look for internal parasites STAT. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html

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  143. Half of my flock is (gently) molting and I'm getting 3-4 eggs a day from
    14 birds. I have a heat lamp that provides a few extra hours of light a
    day--so total they are getting about 14 hours. I want to ramp it up to
    15 hours a day to increase egg production, but don't want distress the
    ladies in molt. Thoughts?

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  144. TheChickenChick10/24/13, 9:22 PM

    14-16 hours of light is where you want to be. Do not use a heat lamp though, just a regular bulb in the morning.

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  145. on one post you said not to use heat lamp. Is this for light or not use one at all? I have been using one for years in the winter is this wrong?

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  146. TheChickenChick10/25/13, 5:27 PM

    This is not a heat lamp, this is just a regular light bulb a few hours in the morning.

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  147. What kind of chicken is Rachel? I just love her!

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  148. TheChickenChick11/13/13, 1:57 AM

    She's a Bantam Cochin Frizzle. :)

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  149. I am a new owner of chicken and mine are molting but I ha e one hen that has not molted at all and she is pecking the other ones that is. What should I do with her? I have had my chickens for about 4months now and I still have not gotten any eggs please help.

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  150. Very good article. You have put many of my worries to rest. Thank you! One Q though - My Copper Maran of 18 mths is really going though an horrendous moult. Her neck chest and lower half are completely bald. She has no leg or tail feathers, so I can't tell if she is poorly. She is off her food (even meal worms.) I am trying to tempt her with the things you suggest but she's not interested. I can't see any signs of infestation and she hasn't laid for about 10 days. Will she recover or should I be worried? (I can see tiny new shafts appearing.)

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  151. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:22 AM

    It sounds like there's a problem because she's not eating.

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  152. Hi thanks for all of the information. My barred rock chicken is going through a rough molt. She's is about 18 months old and has lost about 65% or more of her feathers. Just concerned because it's been in the 12 - 16 degrees f at night. I put a heater in the hen house. Do you think I'm being overly worried?

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  153. TheChickenChick12/6/13, 8:07 PM

    It's impossible for me to know, Neal. Use your best judgment and above all, be safe.

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  154. I had a red that just went through a hard molt then became lame. I cant find anything wrong with her leg/foot. She has been in the house in a crate while I have been nursing her back to health. She is slowly very slowly been able to put weight on it but still favors it. Does this have anything to do with the molt?

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  155. TheChickenChick12/17/13, 12:04 AM

    Nope.

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  156. My chicken isn't molting yet. Is that a good sign of health or not? Does it vary between breeds? She is still laying eggs too.

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  157. Sliverus Snape12/23/13, 7:57 AM

    Nope? That's it. No further hunches of what it could possibly be ?

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  158. A good way to stop the bleeding, because birds can't loose much blood before death (we've had parrots for years) is packing the pin feather that's bleeding with flour or cornstarch. Some recommend styptic but that is painful and the flour works just as well. I don't have chickens yet, but I do still have parrots and it works every time.

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  159. Sylvie Laflamme1/12/14, 10:03 AM

    Hi there! One of my chickens just decided to start molting a week ago....doesn't she know it's winter in New England...bad timing! This is a wonderful article thank you so much for all the tips! Will she be able to keep warm if we hit subzero temps again during the next few weeks?

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  160. TheChickenChick1/13/14, 6:22 PM

    It's not going to get as cold as it was last week, Sylvie.

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  161. Sylvie Laflamme1/13/14, 7:01 PM

    I know thank goodness. Hoping the rest of the winter stays in the 30's and 40's.

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  162. My gosh, this is right on time, even though I have read it previously. I didn't expect an early molt on my precocious hens. They won't be a year old until next month, and they showed no sign of molt in the fall. But as the days grew shorter they started laying every couple days and then stopped. By mid-December they began to molt with exquisitely poor timing. They were NOT dressed for winter at all. Now, a month later they have new growth on their necks but they are still losing lots of feathers from their backsides. They want NOTHING to do with me and are so clearly in a bad mood I have to chuckle, recalling my pre-menopausal mood swings. Anyway, I was just out at the coop and thought, "I MUST ask The Chicken Chick how long this goes on!!!" And here's my answer!

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  163. Snape, that's like asking you how you like what I'm wearing just now. Lame chicken with no other symptoms is impossible to even make a guess at. LOL. Reminds me of patients calling when I was in practice, wanting to know what's wrong and if I could fix it without coming to see me. You can make all kinds of W.A.G.s but they are meaningless and potentially harmful.

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  164. I had a problem similar to that and I am NO expert by ANY MEANS! Had my Vet do a parasite check,...NONE :( But I started putting a Probiotic (Sav-A-chick at Tractor Supply) in their water when this happens, it tighten all their stools right up! They also put out a Electrolyte product also. Hope this helps.

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  165. Lynnie Bat-Abba2/12/14, 6:52 PM

    WOW!!!! I sure am grateful for your page! Thank you!

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  166. I love reading you blogs, so loaded with great info, thank you so much

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  167. Kathleen Immel Cross2/19/14, 9:54 AM

    When I first got my youngest Rhode Island Red, her feathers looked strange and "waxy" to me. That cleared up after a few weeks and her feathers were beautiful. I've only been raising chickens for a year and hadn't seen that extent of "waxiness" on any of my previous girls. I now understand exactly what that was! Thank you so much for all of the great info you post

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  168. Peggy Schoenbeck Farley2/19/14, 1:12 PM

    Wonderful Information....my chickens will be 1 year old in about a week. I see nearly 6 of them molting. Just hope they can stay warm in this miserable weather. They have plenty of healthy food, water, fresh wood shavings and straw. You have left no question in my mind though, I am doing all I can for them.

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  169. Patty Kennedy2/19/14, 6:40 PM

    My girls are 27 weeks and my Golden Campine seems to be molting. However, her molt did not start at the neck, it started at her rear and is moving up her back. Is this molting or something else?

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  170. Thank you, this is great information!

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  171. Anita English2/20/14, 9:05 PM

    I learn something new every time I read your articles....thank you so much. I am amazed that it is painful for them to molt.....will certainly look at my girls in a different light now when they molt.....

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  172. LOL, I'm so happy to have read this...I might have gone into a panic with my first batch of ladies, if I hadn't. Cheers!

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  173. My chickens are only about 8 months old and they look like they're starting to molt. Aren't they too young to molt?

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  174. Karen Sanders Warner3/16/14, 8:25 AM

    Only one of my five girls molted last fall. Now I know why she didn't like being handled. Thanks for the article. Love you blog.

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  175. What a great article ! I'm learning so much from your blogs . Thank you

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  176. I had red mite, cleaned house every 6 days x 5 used sevrin but still I have 4 out of 12 chickens going bald on their backs - any ideas & should I be worried

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  177. I had red mite which I have successfully got under control (Severin every 6 days x 5). I have 13 chickens (different sorts) but the 3 black rocks are getting very bald on their backs & I on her front. I have examined them & can find no sign of lice/mites and I havnt seen any bullying, what can it be & should I be worried?

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  178. TheChickenChick4/1/14, 12:36 AM

    Are the mites still on the chickens? Are you seeing them on the birds or in the coop?

    ReplyDelete

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