Ways to Help Molting Chickens
As you get close to your chicken coop you start seeing one feather, two feathers and your anxiety goes up. Are you approaching what could be the scene of something terrible? You count your chickens and realize that no one is missing. How can no one be missing when there are THAT many feathers scattered around? Welcome to Molting Season!
There comes a time in every chicken’s life, that they go through what is known as molting. Normally in the Fall, but can happen in the Spring as well. The changes in daylight is partially what triggers this event which is the renewing of the chicken’s older ragged, tired feathers.
A feather consists of approximately 85% protein which is the same thing needed to create eggs. Therefore when a chicken is molting and goes into that feather production mode, their egg production decreases due to the reduced amount of protein available in their diet.
During this time period you will also notice that your egg production drops. Never fear! There are ways to help your hens to get through this time period and get them back to their full feathering and normal egg production a little quicker than if you left it up to them alone. Left to nature it can be a few months of slim to no eggs. With the following tips, that duration should shorten greatly. The average molting period lasts 7-8 weeks, but anywhere from 4-12 weeks is considered normal.
Great sources of additional protein include black oil sunflower seeds, cat food, hard-boiled eggs, and even some of your leftover cooked meat from dinner. Their protein level during this time period should ideally be around 20-22% percentage, up from the normal level of 16-18%.
Your hens will dance and peck in a frenzy for the 100% natural whole-dried mealworms. Dried mealworms offer chickens the taste they love without the inconvenience of storing and handling live worms.
These protein-rich, easy-to-feed treats consist of a blend of mealworms and seeds formed into a ball shape. Your hens will peck, grab, run and chase each other as they entertain themselves and you!
Reducing the stress on the chickens at this point also will help them to recover sooner. I like to be extra vigilant at this time to ensure my girls have nice cool fresh water daily. If you have an overzealous rooster this can also be a good time to put him in a different coop to allow the female’s feathers to come in properly. New feathers are not as hardy and therefore able to be pulled back out when the rooster mounts the hen. Once her feathers are back in fully they will be able to handle everything again.
Once your hen is fully through her molt, and her beautiful new feathers are in, you can return the protein level down to the normal level. Although, she may still appreciate some of those extra special treats on occasion!
For more tips be sure to check out our YouTube video below.
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