“Should I Be Worried If My Hens Don’t Molt?”

“I have a lovely flock of 21 hens and 3 roosters. 14 are standard sized and 10 are bantam. My standard sized flock are all good / very good layers. The bantams are fair layers. Its actually been pretty cold, its definitely been at least cool since October. Not ONE has gone through a molt and I am getting a ridiculous amount of eggs particularly from my standard sized hens. I am getting between 10-12 eggs every single day.

My mother in law has many of the same breeds as I do and they are also the same age and most of hers have or are molting and her production has dropped. She only lives about 5 miles from me. I am concerned that something is wrong with my girls. I know molting time is a period of rest from egg production and I am worried about my girls not getting that needed rest. Should I be worried?” ~ Mary Lapara, Southern Louisiana

SIDE NOTE: For those of you who are new to keeping chickens, here’s a brief explanation of what a molt is; A molt is the process of shedding old feathers and replacing them with new feathers. It is also a time for the hen’s reproductive system to rest as she will either stop laying eggs all together or will lay less frequently for the duration of the molt.

Feather loss will typically start on the face and head. It will then progress to the neck, breast and body, followed by the wings and finally the tail. There can be some variances. A molt is usually brought on with the shorter days of autumn and winter. The whole process can take anywhere from 2 to 7 months, depending on the breed and the individual.)
Hi Mary, thanks for the question.

You have no idea how many people reading right now wish they were in the same situation.

Most of us are waiting for our girls to return to full production again.

Don’t worry, there’s no such thing as too many eggs!

Bantams do typically lay fewer eggs then their standard counterparts.

Some breeds as a whole lay more eggs than others.

Within a breed you will find individual hens that lay more than others within the same breed.

Typically, poor layers molt in the fall. Good layers will wait until closer to winter to start dropping feathers.

Nutrition, sanitation and environment all play a part in the health of a flock and thereby, their egg production.

You are obviously taking excellent care of your flock.

Please don’t be concerned about your girls not getting their needed rest, they will molt when they’re ready.

It is not uncommon for a few hens to stay fully feathered, especially if it is their first winter.

It is not likely however, that your whole flock will avoid a molt this year. So if they haven’t started yet, they will receive the rest they need when they do start their molt.

I believe it is best to let the hens come into their molt naturally although it can be forced. See our next reader’s question for a discussion on that.

I hope this has been a reassurance to you Mary. Enjoy all those eggs!

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