Duck molting

Q. Hey Jordanne…Paul & Rebeca here. Just had a question about Leda & Lola. They are shedding their feathers right now. Is that normal. One more so than the other. They just flap their wings and the feathers fly. They are also pulling them out. I was wondering if it is a summertime thing? They have also slowed down egg production over the last week….Any info would really be appreciated. Thanks. Hope all is well. Paul & Rebeca

A. Leda & Lola sound like they have begun to molt. It’s a normal process they will go through about once a year and which usually begins in late May. They’re now considered to be full adults.

Domestic ducks normally change their feathers once a year, and laying stops or slows down during this period as the ducks’ energy is directed to growing new plumage.

During the molt, feathers become loose as the follicles in the skin become active and engorged with blood. The new feathers being formed push out the old ones. The primary purpose of molting is to replace old, worn-out feathers with new ones. The feather growing process requires a great deal of energy. Most molts begin with the loss of the innermost primary feathers on both wings. When about half the primaries are affected, it continues to the outermost secondary feathers on the wings. The bird then begins to molt body feathers, followed by the tail.

Interestingly, it has been reported that the ducks that were first to develop as ducklings are the ones that are first to molt as well. Most information about molting ducks (Khaki Campbells especially) is conflicting, but I think that explains why some ducks molt faster or earlier than others.

Mine aren’t molting yet, though I am expecting them to.

Leda and Lola should be in “full molt” by mid-June which means that you should expect more feathers to fly.

You don’t have to treat them much differently during this time. However, their bodies are under stress as they grow new feathers so if we experience a sudden cold day or night (not that it is likely…), make sure they are extra warm.

I also recommend raising the protein level up to about 20% during this time. The higher protein will promote good feather formation as they are mostly protein.

Give my love to the ladies.


  1. June Hale says:

    How long will the ducks stop laying during the molting period?

  2. bj says:

    Exactly. How LONG with the ducks stop laying during the molting period?

  3. Ella Woods says:

    What is the best way to increase protein in their diet?

  4. Dori says:

    We have 2 pekin ducks 1 mallard and 1 blue sweedish. One of the pekin ducks our little Sweetie is loosing feathers by her wing but on the side of her neck. Is she molting or what could this be? She is bald in that one spot. Both Perkins, Sweetie and Petey have had there white feathers turn to yellow but Sweetie is the only one with the balding spot so far. Duckie the blue sweedish and Isabella the mallard show no sighs yet of molting. Please help!!!!
    Dori & Tim

  5. Sam says:

    Is it only the females that do this? and do they lose weight during this period?

  6. LLDressler says:

    This helped me so much! Evidently my Peking- Baby Girl- is going through her first molting! I was sooooo worried. She is such a big and regular egg producer, I couldn’t understand why she had missed 2 days going on 3. She isn’t very hungry and her behavior is a bit off. She has been losing massive amounts of feathers for the entire summer and still remains beautiful. Thank you for the information.

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