Chicken molting season and care

Q. Hey there this is Joelee Joyce, and I am a builder and permaculturalist in Tuscon Arizona. I have a problem with my hens , and a friend told me that your daughter knows quite a bit about raising and caring for hens. The problem is that they are molting, even though the temperature is dropping very quickly around here. This molting has only began within the last few weeks, whereas normally they molt in the summer. One problem might be stress, because there is a hawk in the area, but
there have been hawks before, and they did not molt because of it.
Is there anything I could do with their diet, which is lay mash, and scratch (combination of grain), and kitchen greens/wild greens when available?

Please note the the temperature is dropping below freezing at night, which is abnormal for Tuscon.

Well please write back when you can, I would appreciate the info. Thanks.

A. We have been experiencing abnormal temperatures for this season just as you (Tucson) are experiencing. We had a whole week of hard freeze that is causing a lot of havoc to our garden (and our livelihood!).

Anyhow, to answer your questions…

My chickens began molting within the last couple of months even as the temps dropped drastically. Usually when they molt around this time, it’s pretty warm. So they had a
rather difficult time of it with the additional stress of unseasonable cold weather.

I have a few questions for you:

What breed do you have?

How old are your chickens?

You said your chickens normally molted in the summer – do you remember around what month?

Usually the summer season isn’t “molting season.” Chickens will molt on an annual basis, generally during the spring or fall season. This process usually lasts between four to ten weeks. If a chicken is dropping feathers “out of season” while the rest of the flock
isn’t, then it may be an illness.

I don’t think stress from a hawk would cause that at all.

Like I said, mine usually begin molting around late August into September while the weather is still warm – they’re preparing for the fall / winter season. When they began
molting this year, it became cold so it was rather pathetic to see them so bare of feathers in these temps.

However, chickens are pretty hardy. As long as they have shelter from the cold at night, they will survive just fine. I put little curtains on the windows of my chicken house to help keep the heat in.

If you want, during the freezing nights, you can either find one of those coop heaters that industries use or heat up some bricks and put them in the nesting box area.

You’re giving them a really good diet, so that’s great. Maybe some homeopathic stuff in their water for stress will help them out – such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy or
Colloidal silver.

I hope I’ve provided some assistance to you. Let me know if I can be of anymore assistance or just let me know how everything works out for you.

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