Flying Feathers: A Few Facts About Chicken Molting

Learn more about molting, the natural process in which a chicken sheds old feathers and grows new ones, by Chickens magazine editors.

by Chickens Magazine HQ
PHOTO: Martina Simonazzi/Adobe Stock

Molting season is right around the corner. If your coop isn’t full of flying feathers yet, you can be sure it probably will be soon. But there’s no reason to worry—molting is a completely natural process for poultry. The editors of Chickens rounded up a handful of facts and tips to help you better understand molting, as well as help your chicken flock through this eggless season of feather loss.

Some chicken breeds, such as Silkies, may undergo a less noticeable “mini molt” throughout the year in which they shed and regrow a few feathers at a time. 

This feather loss phenomenon starts to happen at around 18 months of age and then occurs annually.

The process of molting requires a lot of energy from the chicken, which is why they may appear more tired or lethargic than usual.

Molting usually lasts anywhere from two to four months, depending on the chicken breed and individual bird.

During molting, hens typically stop laying eggs or may lay significantly fewer eggs.

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Chickens may also lose weight during molting due to the energy demands of feather regrowth.

Molting chickens require a higher protein diet to support feather regrowth, which can be provided through supplements or high protein feed.

Molting chickens may be more susceptible to stress, illness and predators due to their weakened state.

Molting typically occurs in the fall or early winter, but it can also happen in the spring or summer.


This article originally appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Chickens magazine.

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