During cold weather and when days are shorter than nights, chicken undergo the process of losing and re-growing their feathers. It is called molting.
A blog from nutrenaworld.com gives us some tips to help our chickens go through the molting process.
Top tips for feeding through the molt:
- Feed a high protein feed
- Make feed available free choice
- Limit scratch to 10% of diet during molt so you don’t dilute the protein content of the ration
- Molting and growing new feathers requires a lot of energy; feathers are 85% protein so be sure your birds’ diet includes a highly nutritious feed; you don’t need to add medications or other vitamins if you’re feeding one of these feeds
- Just as your chickens have individual personalities, they will go through molt differently as well; some lose a few feathers and grow them back in as quickly as 3-4 weeks; other chickens lose a lot of feathers and take 12-16 weeks to grow them back
Other tips for helping chickens get through molting:
- Reduce stress as much as possible, avoid bringing new birds into the flock if possible
- Chickens should act normal during their molt – if they seem sick, something else is wrong; both roosters and hens go through molt
- Avoid handling your chickens during molt, it is painful for them and increases stress
Chickens will lose feathers in a sequence starting with the head and neck and then down the back, across the breast and thighs and finally their tail feathers. The new feathers that emerge are called pinfeathers and will grow in following the same sequence they were lost.
Molting is a normal and natural process of shedding feathers and re-growing them that all chickens go through. The best thing you can do to help your chickens through molt is to feed a high quality, high protein layer feed.