Are Your chickens loosing feathers? What does it mean when a chicken molts? Should you allow your chickens to molt or supply them with extra light? Let’s dive into these topics today and find out the answers to these questions and more.
Healthy Chickens Molt
Are you a little confused as to whether you chicken is molting? When the leaves start to fall off the trees and it becomes a little cooler outside, chickens feathers can fall as well. This is a healthy process that leaves the chicken feeling rested and their feathers are shiny and new. There are two schools of thought on molting.
One is that if you sell the eggs, you should allow the chickens to have extended light in the early morning. This will stop the process from happening. Thus, you will have a continual supply of eggs.
The other school of thought is to allow the hens to go through the molting process to rejuvenate their bodies and their feathers. Pullets (hens who are just beginning to lay their first eggs), generally won’t go through this process their first year. They are usually around 16-18 months at this time.
Molting Season Begins
It’s autumn here in the USA and with that brings color changes in the trees and my birds changing their outer coat. I have one chicken in particular that looks very ragged. The others not so much. I just figured they would all start molting at the same time.
This is a sad state of affairs for her, because everyone is picking on her. I’ve been researching it and honestly, I can’t figure out why she would be the only one molting. We got 4 birds originally from a farm, and then others from that flock aren’t molting. Whenever I bring out their fermented food, I have to be sneaky and bring a spoon. I scoop up some of the feed and place it on a golden colored leaf a little way off from the others. I stand there and protect Henrietta so she can eat in peace.
How Support Your Chickens Through the Molt?
The molting process is hard on chickens. Therefore they need more protein. The recommendation from several sources says to use 18% protein feed instead of just the regular 16%. The other thing you can do is give them some healthy protein such as scrambled eggs, worms, grub or mealworms. I also read if you have extra canned Salmon you can feed them this. Only feed them this every other day, though.
Try not to move them into a new living quarters during this time. One thing I never knew about was not to touch them or pick them up, because their new feathers coming in hurts them. Henry & Roo Vitamins and Electrolytes & Probiotics for Poultry is a good option to add to their water. See where to get these here.
Questions about Chickens and Molting
What are some others reasons chickens lose feathers?
Other reasons chickens lose their feathers are they are not getting the proper nutrition. Sometimes feather loss or molting can be caused by stress. Is there construction in the area? Have there been predators close by for several days in a row? Is there a bully in the flock? Also check and make sure there is not lice or mites on your chickens.
What is a hard molt?
Chickens who were bred to give us a high volume of eggs, go through hard molts.
Can hens lose feathers from rooster damage? Yes, sometimes a rooster favors a certain hen, so you can get a Hen Saddle to protect her from losing too many feathers. Or, if there aren’t enough hens to go around for the rooster, that can cause feather loss. The recommended amount is about 8 hens to a rooster.
What month do chickens molt?
Depending where you live the process can start as early as August or as late as November.
SAVE ME FOR LATER!
Does your chicken coop need to be cleaned before winter sets in? Check out our post on Cleaning the Chicken Coop.
Do you have any tips or tricks on supporting your chickens through their molt? Please reply below. We appreciate any ideas or products you use.