Mid-August Molt

As expected, right on time, but much too early for my liking, one (or more?) of my hens  is going into the molt. I know this because I am finding hard outer feathers,

hard feather


and soft downy feathers in the bedding.

soft feather


Of my fifteen hens, three are broody – Pearl,  Florence, and Veronica.



That leaves twelve potential layers. But Jasper has issues, so she’s out of production. I haven’t seen an egg from Onyx in a month (I don’t know what’s up with her. She acts fine, but she’s never been a regular layer.) Misty lays only two eggs a week, Owly only one. Despite the slackers, the flock has provided me with an abundance of eggs this summer. That’s about to change. Have you noticed feathers floating around your coop lately?


  1. I don’t have any hens right now, but my horses have been shedding their summer hair early.

  2. Buffy my Buff Sussex molted weeks ago and is now laying again, my two RIR’s ( Red and Trouble ) are molting furiously at present. Out of my other three the two Magpies ( Blackie and Maggie ) are having egg issues the same as Jasper, which leaves Welly my Welsummer how has a mind of her own 3-4 eggs one week then none for about 10 days. But any eggs are welcome…:)

  3. Lots of moulting going on in my chicken yard! Even Lucky the rooster has been dropping feathers. We have been experiencing an even drier summer then usual with really no rain to speak of since May so it feels like mid-Sept. with the garden struggling and having lost most of it`s foliage. We are on extreme water restrictions so you can imagine the challenges. But….. most of.the hens are doing well with their egg laying. The one different behaviour they are displaying is laying outside in the shrubbery. I figure it must be cooler out there in the shade then in their house and there are less squabbles over their favourite nesting boxes so I don`t mind too much having to search for their eggs every eve. I am counting on normal habits to return when they spend longer hours locked up as the day-light hours shorten.

  4. It was lovely watching you with the two Boys on Hencam, they certainly like a fuss. Also forgot to say before Buffy molted she had been broody 3 times !!

  5. Yes.
    Its too early for them to be molting.
    I believe an old wives tale states that it indicates an early winter.

  6. I also wanted to add that I have a Cuckoo Maran that has been broody over two mths now. Persistant!!!!!
    How long has Pearl been broody?

      • She’s a smart broody. She gets down from the nest at least twice a day to dust bathe, eat, drink, etc. She also will come outside for particularly interesting treats.

  7. a few of mine are molting too!

    still getting regular egg laying except for one and she spent June being broody go figure broody then lay for 3 weeks then start molt

  8. Our rooster is shedding feathers 24/7, so their’s no real “molt season” for him! ;)
    The sussex is shedding a few feathers, but nothing drastic. I haven’t seen feathers from our cochin, Peach.

    Question for you, what do you do if a hen goes broody during the winter or late fall? My parents’ friend dips the hen in cold water…

    • Dipping in cold water does not stop broodiness. It just makes them mad. Send her my broody FAQ – in it I discuss the anti-broody coop. As far as late-season broodies – just ignore them. They’re not going to lay anyway.

  9. Feathers here too…not many eggs now..hens are three and not at all predictable. One Buff Orp, Gracie, lays eggs with a smeary swirly finish on them. Things are different this summer!

  10. No chickens here either. But I’ve got a dog blowing his coat and with my daughter home I’m up to four cats. The fur is flying! Ugh! And, yes, too early for these guys as well.

  11. My two bantam game hens started their molt at the end of May, beginning of June which is a month earlier than last year. It must be the breed because they were first last year but not this early. They were laying really well until this point but are now fully feathered and beautiful again before the rest of the girls start to molt. I think the bantam ancona is just starting as I am finding some outer feathers from her in the run and coop. The rest of the flock are still laying well, apart from my perpetual broody.

  12. Hi,
    As to not knowing why Onyx isn’t laying? Here’s something to consider: I thought there was too much of a kerfuffle for our girls when the top hen went broody and took on attitude. Eggs went from 5 a day to 2 or three. And continued at that level for the time Panda sat on the eggs, and VOILA! discovered 4 chicks beneath her. But about two months later, when my husband was removing our poop board? 76 eggs. We had been duped again!

    Thanks for your comments on deep litter. (2013 Why I Don’ t Use Deep Litter) I’ve had chickens in Jaffrey, NH for 3 1/2 years now and each year, Big Red, our room, gets wicked frost bite. And last winter was a nightmare of sneezing and bumble foot. After reading your post on deep litter, I realize maybe it’s not for us. I’ve a whole new winter coop vision now. So thanks!

    • I hope none of those old eggs broke when you removed them. Stinky! There’s no place for my girls to hide eggs in the coop area. Misty, though, lays out in the “jungle” whenever she has a chance.

  13. It looks like someone had a pillow fight in the pen! I can’t tell who it is specifically but the feathers are white…Delaware’s or Leghorn? I do have one Delaware setting, she has been at it for most of the summer, she does come out and eat the greens and kitchen trimmings daily and takes a much needed dust bath…I have seven layers and have an abundance of eggs..it has been a very warm summer but it doesn’t seem to bother them, I do have a very well ventilated coop and shade in the pen…so far so good! Love the blog today:)

  14. Just saw Pearl on the outside cam – a walking fluff of feathers. So pretty.

  15. One of my barred rocks is molting too. I am finding one egg a day from 3 hens. These are the age of your Gems.

  16. Our white leghorn Clementine may be starting to molt but we’re not sure, because she’s broody right now, so we don’t know if they are just chest feathers she may have pulled herself, or starting to molt. But we did find one large outer feather also, besides all the fluffy ones all over. This is the second time this year Clementine’s been broody. We’ve been calling her Miss Broody Butt. Our barred rock Bonita is not molting yet, and she is laying an egg almost every day. Bonita squishes up next to Clementine to lay, and when she leaves Miss Broody Butt rolls the egg underneath herself and sits on it. We have to check for Bonita’s eggs by reaching a hand under Miss Broody Butt! And sometimes there are scratch marks on the egg from her moving it with her beak. Our girls turned 1 year old last month.

  17. My 3 fully feathered 3 year olds are laying 10-12 eggs per week. With our heat index of 100*-115* I bet my girls wish they were dropping feathers.

  18. ??? Do molting hens eat less, they suggest feeding molt muffins and other such like to help. If some are still laying can they have them as well or is it better to just leave it at layers. Thanks…:)

  19. One of my hens started molting as soon as August began. Waaaayyy early. Perhaps this means an early winter? I don’t care. By November 15th I will be out of Vermont and living in North Carolina. Yipee!

  20. Have noticed feathers for sure but as soon as they are shed, one of our new little partridge chanteclers eats them up! I will have to do a better job of collecting in order that she doesn’t eat too many! Also, yesterday was the first day that we have had NO EGGS! :(

  21. I am noticing a lot of stray feathers in the coop, the pen, and all around the lawn where they are permitted to roam for a few hours each day. They were hatched May 18 this year. I didn’t think young chicken chicks molted their first year, hence the first winter being the best, most reliable winter for eggs? So is this feather loss normal? Something like growing pains? You can’t see visually that they are losing feathers. No one has thin or bald spots. The only other possible hint is that, on the darker birds, I see whites flakes when they are sitting on my lap preening. I have just assumed it was something = to chicken dandruff. Perplexed.

    • Pullets lose baby feathers and grow new ones. You might be seeing that. A full molt isn’t normal, and if it does occur would be the sign of stress. Since you don’t see bald spots, things might be okay. Do observe to make sure it’s not one hen that’s getting picked on. The white flakes are keratin, shed when the hens unfurl new feathers, so it might be that they’re just getting their full complement of feathers for the winter.