How Many Eggs Does A 3 Year Old Chicken Lay Introduction To Molting In Chickens

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Introduction To Molting In Chickens

If you have long periods of time that your laying hens are unproductive, meaning they stop laying eggs or only produce a few, you may need to keep records and track laying times for each hen.

It’s easy to tell when your chickens are moulting because it usually looks like a feather pillow exploded in the coop. There are feathers everywhere, and you can see the spots as listed below where feathers are missing from the bird.

Study these patterns in your flock, and when you get new chickens, try asking the seller questions about this moulting behavior. If he or she is concerned with egg production, they will already know their sets of multi-patterns.

Every year, chickens molt. They lose their old feathers and acquire new ones. That usually means they also stop laying eggs during this time. Those hens that continue to lay eggs will have an extended lot of time.

There are both early and late molters. The early molts will only lay for a short period of a few months before they molt, and they are not the best layers. Their feathers during molting will look a little better than the late feathers. The late molts will lay for a year or more before molting, and they are your best layers. Late molts will have rougher looking feathers during molting than the early ones.

The loss and regrowth of feathers is consistent, so it is not difficult to notice when it occurs and whether each is an early or late molt. Early molts will only shed a few feathers at a time and may take 4-6 months to molt. Late molts have a shorter period of 2-3 months and shed their feathers quickly. Late molts will produce again quickly because shedding and regrowth of feathers occur simultaneously thus shortening their moult period.

The order of feather loss will always be the same as follows:

  • head

  • neck

  • chest

  • body

  • Wings – The outer or primary flight feathers are lost first from the center followed by the secondary flight feathers. Late molts will shed primary feathers in pairs or groups and early molts will shed one at a time.

  • tail

If you know your hen’s moulting patterns, it’s easier to know which chickens are profitable and which chickens are freeloaders. Sometimes it is easier to cull the less productive birds than to keep feed and care costs down for a minimum return in eggs.

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