Molting Chickens Explained

It's Ok if Chickens Molt Late in the Season

Molting is a natural process that chickens go through at different times in their lives. A chicken's first molts take place as it grows from a baby chick to an adult. Because they're babies, we tend to think of this as a process of growing up, and it is, but it's technically molting.

As adult chickens, molting takes place in late summer and fall when birds replace old feathers with new plumage. 

If you observe your birds toward the end of summer, their feathers are starting to look a little ragged. Some may be broken or missing bits and pieces. This is normal. your chickens are outside in the elements each day and hard at work scratching and pecking for food. Feathers get a little worn out after all this activity!

Molt timing is critical because feathers equal warmth. As birds enter the cold, winter months with feathers that are new and in nice shape, they are best prepared to stay warm.


When Do Adult Chickens Molt?

Adult chicken molting happens around 18 months old and each year after. Feather loss starts at the head and then travels down the body. Some chickens will molt “hard” meaning they lose their feathers quickly and then look bare as new feathers are growing. Other chickens molt slowly with only some bare patches showing or no bare patches at all. Their molt may be barely noticeable to human caretakers. 

It's Cold Out and My Chicken is Molting!

With finicky fall weather, sometimes molting can take place when it's warm and sometimes molting can take place while snow and ice are on the ground, especially if birds are molting in later fall. The good news is that usually all flock members aren't molting at the same time, so those with newly-growing feathers can roost at night with those in full fluff and keep warm. During the day, chickens are normally moving around enough to keep warm.


How Long Does a Molt Last?

The process of annual molting takes about eight to 12 weeks to complete and is normally triggered by decreasing daylight hours.

Feathers are about 85% protein, so you can help your birds stay healthy during molting by increasing their protein. A good way is through protein-rich snacks like black oil sunflower seeds, nuts, peas, soybeans, tuna fish and cat food, to name a few. I also add Feather Fixer by Nutrena to my chickens' diet during molt. It has increased protein and seems to really help.

Both roosters and hens molt. Hens will decrease or stop laying eggs during this time since all their energy reserves are being used to produce new feathers.

During a molt, your chickens may act a little “off” and not have as much energy or enthusiasm as normal. It’s important to monitor your chickens and to know the difference between sick chicken symptoms and a molting chicken. A molting chicken is not technically a sick chicken. Remember, molting is supposed to happen!

Adult chickens losing feathers at other times of year should be investigated. There can be many reasons for losing feathers off-season. Chickens that are under stress or are infested with parasites can lose their feathers. Also, chickens without adequate food, water or light can be forced to molt.

Tip: It's important to remember not to handle your molting chickens too much. Growing feathers can be painful to the touch.

What is Molting in Young Chickens?

Young chickens start molting quickly at just six to eight days old replacing down for feathers. And then again at eight to twelve weeks old replacing baby feathers. FYI – The second molt is when male chickens get their ornamental feathers, so that’s when you know who is who. 
Six to Eight Weeks OldDowny feathers are replaced by baby feathers.
Eight to 12 Weeks OldBaby feathers are replaced by juvenile feathers
18 Months OldFirst adult molt replaces old feathers
Yearly After First MoltAdult feathers are replaced.


Easy DIY Thanksgiving Decorations

Thanksgiving decorations don't have to be hard to make or require tons of craft supplies. For easy DIY Thanksgiving decorations, look no farther than your pantry. No need to stress over decor!

Depending on the glass piece you use, this can be a beautiful decoration for a living room table or a fireplace mantle. You can also use it for a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving spread. Maybe make a few and line them in the middle of your table as a decorative accent with candlelight to boot.

Keeping Potted Rosemary Healthy All Year

In the language of herbs, the rosemary plant is known for remembrance. And if you’ve ever smelled the fresh piney scent of rosemary, it’s not likely something you’ll forget. Most herb gardeners grow this must-have plant in their gardens during the spring, summer and early fall. But what do you do with a healthy rosemary plant over the winter if you live in the north? 

Growing rosemary in a northern garden isn’t like growing other perennial herbs, such as thyme and parsley, that can be overwintered and will come back in spring. In the United States, rosemary is grown as a perennial in warmer climes (zones 6 to 10). In fact, rosemary hedges grace the walkways of Charleston, South Carolina and many other Southern cities, year round. But in the north, the rosemary plant is either treated as an annual or moved indoors into containers before the first frost.

Rosemary is an evergreen perennial herb that’s a member of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean. If you’re like me, you like to use rosemary all year for cooking and crafting. Plus, it makes great hostess and teacher gifts. Rosemary graces the garden centers during the holidays shaped like a Christmas tree.

DIY Spooky Halloween Bottles

Yes, Halloween's about costumes and candy, but you've got to dress up more than yourself. Raid your recycling bin and make these adorable, spooky bottles to dress up your house. They're easy to make and they'll last forever. 

I originally got this idea when my mom gave me an article from her Woman’s Day magazine about wine bottle spirits. It was such a cute idea that I jumped at the chance to make this craft. I think these spooky Halloween bottles make unique decorations and provide the perfect excuse to enjoy an adult beverage; not a bonus you get with many crafts. You can actually make them with any bottles you've got on hand. The round pumpkin pictured in the instructions is an old pickle jar. But beware; if you want to make lots of these, you’ll probably have to ask friends and family for their extra bottles.

7 Tips for Successfully Buying Chicks From the Feed Store

Make Sure You're Prepared Before You Get to the Feed Store

For a few months each spring, when you walk into your local feed store, you're greeted to the chorus of tiny chicken chirps as the annual chick season tempts so many shoppers. If you're not sure of where to buy baby chicks, this is a great place to pick up your first flock members or add to your existing flock of backyard chickens. It's local. It's immediate. And it's fun.

Here are some tips to make the process easier on you and your new flock members.

How to Make Marbled & Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

Why make Easter decorating hard on yourself or expensive? You can make marbled eggs and tie-dyed eggs with everyday ingredients from your pantry including food coloring. These techniques produce beautiful eggs that look like they came from a fancy egg dyeing kit. Both you and your kids are sure to love them!

If you have backyard chickens, you may have white egg laying chickens. I have a Brown Leghorn and I hoard her eggs before Easter. If you have chickens that lay brown eggs or colored eggs, this is good too. When I first started dyeing my backyard eggs, I worried the brown and colored eggs wouldn't work well. That's a myth! Those eggs produce a deeper and richer tone than white eggs. Just use some common sense, a brown egg is not going to dye well with a pink color, but it will take a stronger color like red.

Marbled Egg Ingredients

  • Food Coloring
  • Vinegar
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water

For this, you can start out with a plain hard boiled egg or an egg already dyed in one color. To get the swirls, add food coloring, vinegar, and vegetable oil to warm water. Swirl the mixture and then quickly drop your egg into the mixture. Quickly pull the egg back out of the mixture. You'll see beautiful swirls of color.

Marbled Eggs

How To Care For A Shamrock Plant

This is the time that shamrock plants are in abundance at local grocery stores and nurseries. Should you lay down a few clams and purchase one? Yes! Shamrock plants are worth it for a holiday treat and an easy-to-care-for houseplant that will rebloom again and again. 

The first time I purchased shamrock plants, they were for my young kids. Needless to say, the plants were in their bedrooms and they didn't get much care. But never fear, these hardy plants are actually bulbs. Instead of dying, they revived and turned into lush houseplants that have bloomed ever since. The lack of water sent the bulbs into a dormant stage. And once a little TLC resumed, the plants were back in business.

Check Out my New Instagram Profile!

If you're like me, Instagram is one of your favorite social media outlets. I love to see the pictures of people's lives and flocks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that's what I get each time I visit Instagram.

Recently, Instagram made a change where you can add your stories to your profile. You may have seen these cool circles and wondered what they do.

Each Instagram page handles these differently. On my page, I think these profile stories are a quick and fun way for you to get to know me and my flock better. Check out my new profile stories below and be sure to look for new stories as they are added in the future.

Breed Spotlight at a Glance - This quick and informative story features a favorite breed and basic facts in case this is a breed you'd like to add to your own flock. More breeds will be added, so stay tuned!

Video Fun - I love sharing the antics and daily life of my flock through videos. Be sure to check back often for new flock flicks.

On the Blog - Don't miss out on new stories and information to keep your flock happy and healthy.

On the Farm - We don't just have chickens here at Elm Ridge Farm. Share other adventures through gardening, herbs, wildlife, pets and more!

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