As fall weather makes an abrupt appearance and trees start to lose their leaves, chickens will start doing the same with their feathers. This natural occurrence is called molting. While it happens every fall for chickens 18 months and older, it can catch new chicken owners by surprise. Here’s what you can do to help you chickens as nature prepares them for the coming winter.
Why Chickens Molt
By growing new feathers, chickens better withstand the cold and humidity of the coming winter.
When Chickens Molt
Depending on where you live in the Pacific Northwest, chickens molt from September to December. Hens and roosters can lose their feathers and grow them back in as few as four weeks, while others will take up to four months.
The process starts with the head and neck, and then down the back, breast, and thighs. The last to go will be the tail feathers. The new feathers grow back in the same pattern, from the head to the tail.
Yes, it is Uncomfortable
Molting can be painful for roosters and hens, so the less you handle them the better. While they will look terrible as they lose feathers, they should still act normal. If they appear to be sick, contact your vet.
Growing Feathers Requires Energy
According to the experts, feathers are 85% protein. As your chickens go through their molt, be sure they have the right kind of feed. NatureWise Feather FixerTM has everything your hens and roosters need, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Plus, when you add protein and other nutrients to their feed during molt, it will help them regrow feathers faster and ensure hens get back to laying eggs sooner.
Coastal Tip: As they molt, hens may stop laying eggs altogether to maintain their nutrient reserves. Once their new feathers are in, they will start laying eggs.
Chicken Care Starts at Coastal
Stop by your Northwest owned and operated Coastal Farm & Ranch where you’ll find a huge selection of chicken feed and feeders, waterers, coops, scratch, fencing and more. Have a question? Our knowledgeable employees know the ins-and-outs of raising chickens in your area and can help you care for your flock.
Coastal Molting Extras
- Wait to bring new chickens into the flock until after molt.
- To ensure chickens get enough protein and nutrients, limit their scratch as much as possible.
- Make feed available at all times during molt so chickens can take in extra nutrients whenever necessary.