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Is Chicken Molting Normal? And How to Handle It

Have you noticed that your chickens are losing their feathers and looking a little rough around the edges? You may be wondering if it is normal for your chickens to molt and if so what to do when it happens.

It is completely normal for a chicken to molt; what is not normal is if they do not molt or take too long to shed their feathers. In this case, additional help may be needed from you or a veterinarian to ensure your chicken recovers its feathers and is in healthy condition.

To learn more about molting in chickens and how best to handle it, continue reading for helpful information.

Is It Good For Chickens to Molt?

After a year a chicken’s (or any other bird’s) feathers can get a little rough looking and need to be freshened up.

A chicken’s body naturally knows that its feathers need to be renewed and acts accordingly by shedding and regrowing new feathers to keep them protected and pretty for another year.

What Ages Do Chickens Molt?

Chickens do a lot of molting during their time on earth.

The list below gives the approximate times a chicken will molt during their lifetime and at what age everything begins to happen:

Age Of ChickenWhat Happens
6 – 8 Days oldChicks will lose their soft down lining
8 -12 Weeks oldThe first time juvenile chicks will molt their first set of feathers
12 Weeks to 18 MonthsThe second time juvenile chicks will molt their feathers to grow adult feathers
18 Months and olderUsually, by this age, a chicken is considered full-grown and will begin its regular annual molt as the seasons’ change

Continue reading to learn what to do if your chicken is molting during the wrong time of year or is not regrowing its feathers within the appropriate time.

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What Months Do Chickens Molt?

Now that you know why chickens molt, you may be wondering what months they do.

Generally, molting occurs in chickens near the end of spring or at the end of summer right before autumn.

Whenever the days begin to get shorter is when you can expect a chicken to begin molting.

How Long Do Chickens Molt For?

If you are wondering why chickens molt their feathers, it is simply a way of refreshing themselves. If everything is as it should be the average chicken will lose and regrow its feathers within a few weeks.

Here’s a video showing what a molting chicken can look like:

What to Do If Your Chicken Is Having Molting Issues

So now you know that it is perfectly normal for your chickens to molt their feathers once a year but what happens if they are molting out of season or not growing their feathers back as they should?

Common Triggers That Cause Irregular Molting

It can be stressful when one or more of your chickens is not behaving properly. Whether you are raising them for your family’s needs or to make a profit it is important that they are kept clean, happy, and healthy.

The list below describes some common things that can cause a chicken to molt out of season and things you can do to solve and prevent the problem from happening again.

Bullying and Other Stressors

Sometimes chickens can be mean to one another, especially if one chicken is considered to be lower ranked in the flock.

When a chicken is considered to be weak other more dominant chickens will peck and bully the weaker chicken. This bullying can cause damage to the chicken’s feathers as well as cause them to become stressed and shed what feathers it has left.

To combat the issue of bullying it is usually necessary to remove the weaker chicken from the flock so it can be nursed back to health and in some cases moved to a different flock for a chance of not being bullied.

If you find that just one chicken tends to be a persistent bully it may be best to remove the bully as well to prevent future attacks. Other stressors such as poor living conditions or threats from predators can also contribute to molting at the wrong time.

Parasites and Illness

A large reason a chicken or flock of chickens may molt when they are not supposed to is that they have come into contact with internal or external parasites.

If a chicken becomes ill it can also molt at the wrong time. If you suspect that your chickens have parasites or are ill it is best to consult with a veterinarian to see what remedies and preventions they recommend to resolve the issue(s).

Nutritional Imbalances

Increasing the percentage of protein in your chicken’s feed is one way to help boost them and get them back to growing strong beautiful feathers again. If you are able to get and keep your flock’s diet balanced properly it will result in healthy-looking chickens that produce a high yield of eggs or meat.

If a chicken’s diet is not balanced properly it can cause nutritional deficiencies. When this happens a chicken’s feathers will not grow as healthy and strong which can result in the appearance of molting when there shouldn’t be.

If you are unsure of what nutrients your chickens need and what portion they should be fed this is another conversation you can have with your veterinarian or any agriculture nutritionist.

Don’t be alarmed if your chickens stop laying eggs during their molting period. This is normal as their bodies need the nutrients and energy to regenerate their feathers. That is another reason why it is so important to be sure you are feeding them the proper mixture of nutrients.

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Clean Coop and Good Grub Keep Hens Happy and Healthy

Now you know that it is normal for a chicken to molt and what to do if they are molting out of season. Keeping a close eye on your chickens and learning their normal behavior can help you to detect if there is a problem sooner than later.

A clean, stress-free environment with well-balanced nutrition is the key to keeping healthy, productive chickens.

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