Adult chickens go through a molting process at least once a year.
During a molt, the chicken loses old or broken feathers and regrows new ones.
Feather regrowth is crucial as the colder months approach.
A new coat of feathers helps the chickens stay warm.
ISA Browns are different from most chicken breeds in many ways.
So when do ISA Brown chickens molt?
Unlike many chicken breeds, ISA Browns do not have a set time of year to molt. Most ISA Brown chickens molt throughout the year. Some ISA Browns go through a complete molt for several weeks, but it varies from bird to bird.
Keep reading to learn more about the molting process for ISA Brown chickens.
How Is Molting Different for ISA Browns?
When most chickens molt, they lose a lot of feathers at once.
A chicken going through a molt may even have patches of bare skin.
The molting process lasts from 8-12 weeks. During this time, hens usually stop laying eggs.
Once the chickens complete the molt, they return to their regular egg-laying routine.
Molting is much different for ISA Browns.
Instead of molting all their feathers at once, ISA Browns drop them all year.
ISA Brown chickens are bred for commercial egg production. They spend most of their energy laying eggs instead of growing new feathers.
A gradual molt suits the ISA Brown’s busy schedule.
Some ISA Brown chickens go through the normal molting process, but this is rare.
Signs Your ISA Brown Is Molting
It is difficult to tell when your ISA Brown is molting because they do not lose all their feathers at once.
Finding random feathers from time to time on the ground is one of the signs your ISA Brown is molting.
It is not uncommon for an ISA Brown hen to drop a few tail or wing feathers and carry on with her day.
Another sign of molting is a personality change in your chicken.
Your ISA Brown becomes moody and does not want to be held.
Molting is uncomfortable for chickens as the new feathers grow in. These new feathers are called pin feathers.
Pin feathers have a rich blood supply and are very sensitive.
When a pin feather breaks, it bleeds profusely. If the bleeding does not stop, you must remove the broken feather.
Fully developed feathers do not have nerves, so they do not cause pain when they break. But there are nerves at the base of the feather.
As the new feathers push the old ones out, it causes discomfort in the molting bird.
Related Reading: What does it mean when your ISA Brown goes clucky?
What Triggers Molting in ISA Browns?
Molting is usually triggered by a loss of daylight hours.
Fewer daylight hours signal colder seasons are approaching.
Chickens prepare for the cooler months by growing in a new coat of feathers.
Cold temperatures also signal the end of the egg-laying season for most chickens.
ISA Browns are very tolerant of cold weather. They usually do not feel the need to regrow all of their feathers at once.
If you live in a colder climate, your ISA Browns are more likely to go through a complete molt.
Further Reading: How Cold Can ISA Brown Chickens Handle?
Another trigger for molting in chickens is stress.
Stress is caused by illness, overcrowding, or malnutrition.
Providing your ISA Brown with healthcare, space, and a healthy diet prevents it from molting at inopportune seasons.
You do not want your chickens molting in the middle of winter.
All chickens go through two juvenile molts when they are young.
Chickens go through the first juvenile molt at 6-8 days old.
The baby chick loses its fuzzy, downy feathers and grows regular feathers.
The second juvenile molt happens when the chick is 8-12 weeks of age. These adult feathers help determine whether your chick is a hen or a rooster.
Related Post: ISA Brown & Golden Comet Comparison
Do ISA Browns Stop Laying Eggs When They Molt?
ISA Brown hens are prolific layers, producing more than 300 eggs annually.
These birds produce fewer eggs over time but are still reliable layers.
These hard-working girls are bred as commercial layers.
Most molting birds stop laying eggs until the molting process is over.
ISA Browns do not usually go through a complete molt, so they lay eggs all year.
Their enormous egg production rate causes a decreased life expectancy in ISA Browns.
Many ISA Browns raised in a commercial environment only live for 2-3 years.
Commercial layer strains of ISA Browns spend most of their time focused on egg production instead of molting.
ISA Browns raised in a backyard chicken flock receive better care and live for 5-8 years.
ISA Browns are more likely to go through a complete molt in a backyard setting.
How To Help Your ISA Browns When They Molt
Feathers consist of 80-85% protein, but regrowing them is not the main focus for ISA Browns.
ISA Browns use most of their protein stores to produce a bounty of eggs.
Decreased protein levels in chickens stunt their growth and cause eggshell quality issues.
A high-quality diet with 20-25% protein is necessary for ISA Browns.
We recommend a high-grade feed like this one, which contains 19% protein.
Supplement your ISA Brown hens’ diet with protein-rich mealworms like these once or twice a week.
Rehydrating the worms makes the tasty morsels easier for your hens to digest.
The protein boost encourages healthy egg and feather production in your ISA Brown hens.
In addition to a diet rich in extra protein, increase your ISA Brown’s calcium intake.
Extra calcium promotes strong egg shells and prevents many reproductive health issues in hens.
An ISA Brown Is Too Busy To Deal With Feather Loss
The almost constant molting takes a toll on the health of your ISA Brown.
ISA Brown hens are too busy laying eggs to take time for self-care.
Do not take it personally if your ISA Brown is moody toward you.
You would be cranky, too, if growing your hair caused so much irritation.
To learn more about the egg-laying habits of ISA Brown hens, visit ISA Brown Chicken Eggs: Guide And FAQ.
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