Do Roosters And Chickens Molt? Molting In Poultry & Behavior

If you are into poultry, you may feel surprised seeing your birds start losing feathers at a certain period in a year, this process of shedding feathers and regrowing them is called molting and it happens every year.

Poultry birds generally start reserving their nutrient count during the process of molting and they also stop laying eggs. You should maintain a nutritious and healthy diet for them in this period as they require it for the proper growth of the body. 

Molting Process and behavior in Poultry

The process of molting is referred to as the common practice of shedding feathers and of regrowing them by birds. Like all birds, poultry birds also go through the practice of molting.

There is no such change in the behavior of chickens and roosters while going through the process of molting.

 If you find some change in the behavior of birds or slowness in their body movements then this may indicate another cause of shedding feathers like mites or any kind of sickness in the bird.

Related Read: Do Roosters And Chickens Get Jealous? Do They Have Feelings?

How do you tell if my rooster or chicken is molting or has mites or sick?

Molting is a frequent practice and can be easily observed, some common signs of molting are

  • The major signs birds start losing feathers
  • Development of bald patches throughout the body
  • No major change in the behavior of the birds
  • The appetite generally remains the same 
  • The process of laying eggs in chickens stops during molting as well.

Related Read: Signs Of Stress In Birds | How To Help A Stressed Bird?

Sometimes finding the difference: why your rooster or chicken is shedding feathers can be difficult. In conditions of mites and sickness poultry birds also shed feathers and it is important to find the exact reason in time.

The signs that can help you in knowing if your chicken or rooster has mites are

  • Presence of mite clumps near the feather base
  • They start losing feathers frequently
  • Develop scaps on both hind legs and forelegs
  • Combs become pale 
  • A slight decline in egg-laying
  • Blood spears can be spotted on legs

You can examine the mites with a help of a torch on the skin of the roosters and chicken, look carefully under the feathers, mites can be of green and red color.

The signs that can help you in knowing if the chicken or rooster is sick are

  • Feathers become dull
  • Wattle and comb can also show signs of dullness
  • Difficulty in breathing with coughing 
  • The back of the chicken/rooster becomes dirty and dark
  • Sometimes the chicken can develop a hunched back
  • A significant loss of weight in a shorter period
  • Changes in the behavior of food intake.

What should you do when your rooster or chicken starts molting?

Twice every year your rooster and chicken will start to molt, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind for the proper maintenance and health of the birds. The first thing you should pay attention to is the diet of the birds.

At different stages of life poultry birds require different nutrition, during molting you should significantly increase the protein as the feathers are compromised of 80 to 90 percent of protein only. So, a high protein diet will help in the proper re-growth of feathers.

During the molting process, the area around the feathers becomes quite sensitive and fragile, it is advised to handle the birds properly without causing them any pain or discomfort. Try to provide some space to them so they can rest calmly in private.

After the process of molting when the birds start laying eggs, it is important to change the protein-rich diet to a calcium-rich diet again. As eggshells are made up of calcium, birds need a large amount of calcium in the body for the production of healthy eggs.

When do roosters start molting and when does it stop?

Roosters and chicken generally molt every ever to shed their old feathers and to get new ones. In the lifetime the first molting occurs when the bird is around 18 months old. After which molting occurs every year during late summer or fall.

The process of molting stops fully generally after nine to twelve weeks, in this duration, the rooster and chicken feathers are re-grown fully and they become able to perform other functions properly.

How often do roosters molt? how many times a year do chickens molt?

In the life cycle of a chicken,  the chick goes through three to four molts to reach the final stage of adulthood. After reaching adulthood, the adult chickens then molts twice every year. The process generally starts at the 18th month in most adults.

Do roosters and chickens molt in spring?

Generally, the process of molting in roosters and chickens is quite rare in spring.

Molting in roosters and chickens for sure is dependent on weather conditions, they generally molt during the fall when days become shorter. 

How long does molting last in chickens and roosters?

Generally, it takes around between 8 weeks to 16 weeks to shedding feathers and gaining them back completely.

 The period of molting can vary both in chickens and roosters, as it depends on how much time it takes to re-grow the feathers completely.

Diet of molting roosters and chickens

The diet of roosters and chickens during molting should be rich in protein, as the feathers are mainly composed of protein. Many people sometimes reduce the quality of their diet as they stop giving eggs. This can deteriorate the health of the bird.

Secondly when the process of molting stops and the process of egg-laying begins, then the diet should be rich in calcium as it will help in developing a good eggshell.

Do roosters molt like hens? Do all roosters molt?

The answer is obviously yes. Roosters do go through a period of molting same as the hens do.

Mostly all roosters molt without any difference, in some exceptional cases of sickness or an infection, the process of molting may not happen in roosters.

Do roosters molt their tail feathers?

Yes, roosters also molt their tail feathers during the process of molting.

 But the good thing is tail feathers also grew back the same as the other feathers on the body and your rooster start looking handsome as before.


All birds go through the process of shedding their feathers once or twice a year knows as molting. Similarly, the poultry birds chicken and rooster go through the same process. It is a very common practice and so some things should be kept in find.

The birds generally do not show any behavioral changes and require a diet high in proteins. The feathers grow back in time.

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