Photos From The Molt

It’s that time of year when feathers blow into piles in the corners of the coop, when a little white hen takes a dust bath and the wallow turns white from her down, and when chickens look downright ridiculous.



If this is your first year keeping hens then don’t worry, chickens don’t go through a molt until they’ve reached 18 or so months of age. Your hens will continue to look lovely. Just wait for next fall, though, when all 8,000 feathers on each hen fall out.

Florence molting


The above photo is of Florence. Some of the feathers, as they loosen, turn around backwards. A hen molts unevenly, so parts of her will look naked, part will be scraggly, part fluffy. The hens do much preening trying to put their feathers right. It’s hopeless.

Agatha preening



Buffy, being an ancient hen, is going through a particularly dramatic molt. It looks like she stuck her foot in an electric socket.




The worst layers molt first. Pearl molted way back in the beginning of August. She’s now back to her gloriously poufy self. True to her cochin nature, she is also back in the nesting box, broody (this photo shows her on a rare outing.)




There are always exceptions to the rule. Edwina is even older than Buffy and hasn’t laid an egg in years. But, she shows no sign of molting. She looks as perfect as ever. She is the great dowager queen of the barnyard.




When hens molt, they stop laying. Regrowing feathers takes great stores of minerals and protein. They can’t make both eggs and feathers at the same time. A few Gems are not yet in a full molt. I know this because I continue to find eggs in the nesting boxes. Not many, but this time of year I’m happy to collect any from the flock. The girls need a rest. The egg basket will fill up again come February.



To learn about the molt and how to take care of  your scraggly hens, read this FAQ.


  1. Thanks for the information on the hen molt. One of our three hens has a very bald spot on her back, that has occured over just the last two days. As this didn’t happen last year, I was concerned she might have a skin issue. We are supplementing their diets with extra protein.

  2. Terry, I remember when Pearl was broody before you were leaving her be. When Pearl is broody does she pretty much keep to herself? Does she try to sit on the eggs the other hens lay?

  3. I have piles of feathers in the corners of the chicken yard. One red hen has a very naked rear-end, poor thing. Lots of white downy fluffs where smooth shiny feathers should be. I have been fermenting their feed during this molt, to make the nutrients more accessible. Also I cook up their eggs and add a few to their morhing feed as well. I look forward to the transformation.

  4. Terry you are lucky you don’t have any frizzled hens, know it when it comes to molting season those hens really go naked. I don’t know if you have ever looked at Fall Molting Phot compeition on Back Yard Chickens forums, but last year’s frizzled winner Kung Fu Henny looked like all you had to do was put her in the oven and fry her.

  5. When my blue Silkie Chicken-Little (AKA) KUJO (she is the meanest hen in the world) Molts you would never know I mean except for that it’s like one day she looks just normal and then the next she looks the the most beautiful, Stunning non bearded Silkie you have ever seen… My Black Jersey Giant the matriarch of the flock who rules with kindness and love, when she molts OH DEAR, I mean its like she sneezes and all of her feathers just fall out last year I remember emailing you with pictures because her entire bottom was bare, i thought she was having health issues ( that was my first molt)

      • From the day I brought her home she has been a mean miserable hen. I bought her from another farm she seemed gentle and docile. I transported her home in a box when ad when I put her with my other hens ( it was the same farm they all came from whith in 2 weeks so i didnt do a quarenteen time nor did I even know i should at that point I was new to this) anywho when I reached into the box to take her out she attacked my hand, and then jumped out o the box, and ranunder the chcken house… in the evening after all the other hens wentr into the house I looked out side and she was roosting on top of the house, and tried to do this for nearly 2 weeks, and eery night i would go and get her and put her in the chicken house and every night she would scream at the top of her lungs and flap her wings and peck a me… she is cranky ( to put it in to perspective the chicken house was only 4 feet high, so it was easy for her to get up there)
        she has stood up to the biggest of hens. he has made a roosters comb bleed she has pecked at the dogs, and I personally wont take eggs from under her if she is brrody with out gloves on. THOUGH 8 weeks ago she hatched eggs and is the best mother ever…

  6. We used to have an Australorp that, in the span of two days time, would drop her entire wardrobe. Just.. gone. Except for a small cap of feathers around her comb. The rest of her was cartoonishly bald. Like a live rubber chicken. The first time it happened I found all the feathers first in the coop and thought a fox had somehow gotten in and eaten a hen. … and then the naked chicken ran past me. I laughed so had I had an asthma attack. Her new wardrobe would come in nearly as fast. Maybe 4 or 5 days as a porcupine and then she was back to her normal sports car physique.

    • Isn’t it interesting how the molt is unique to each bird? The commercial producers would have paid for your hen’s genes! A long, drawn out molt is financially costly and they do (not very nice) things to induce it and then get the hens back into lay. BTW, I, too, have gone into the coop and counted hens, sure that one has been taken by a fox, but have never had one quite as naked as the chicken you describe.

  7. Our chickens are (?) molting. It’s hard to tell when they are already half bald from the wretched rooster’s abuse. He has been gone since July but the hens backs still look sparce and bums are red and bare. What will happen in the cool weather months? I am really worried.

    • Your chickens will molt and the new feathers will grow in and they’ll be find. The back damage is due to the roo. There’s a multitude of reasons that bums get red – rarely lice, sometimes vent gleet, sometimes internal issues, sometimes simply because they’re your best layers. Not to worry, they’ll be plenty warm with new feathers when winter hits.

  8. um, I’m no expert, but red bare bums doesn’t sound like rooster damage to me. Is it possible that you have some feather pecking problems amongst the hens, maybe?