Fall Molting Advice from Nutrena
Borrowed from Nutrena’s blog, Scoop from the Coop.
Are your chickens looking featherless and ugly?
Don’t be alarmed!
This is a natural phase that chickens go through every year. The process is called molting, and it starts happening to chickens when they’re 14-18 months old.
Here’s how to get through it.
What is molting?
Molting is the natural loss of old feathers followed by the regrowth of new ones.
This process usually happens in the fall and is a chicken’s way of refreshing their feathers before cold weather comes.
Molting always starts at the chicken’s head, spreads down the back to the breast, and ends at the wings and tails.
There are two types of molt that chickens can go through: hard and soft.
A “hard molt” means that the chicken loses all of its feathers at once.
A “soft molt”, however, is when a chicken loses feather over a longer period.
Chickens use molting to build up their nutrient reserves and typically slow or even stop laying eggs during this time.
But just because your chickens aren’t laying eggs, doesn’t mean their diet should change. It’s important that they continue to eat a high-quality diet in order to grow back full feathers.
How to help your chickens get through molt
Feed your molting chickens a diet that is high in quality and protein. Ideally, try finding a feed that is nutritionally complete, and has organic trace minerals. Zinc and manganese are two especially important nutrients for feather growth.
Another way to help your chickens through molt is to reduce stress in their environment as much as possible.
Try to avoid handling your chickens or bringing new birds into their flock during molt. In total, molting will take between 4-16 weeks.
You don’t need to add any medications or other vitamins to your chicken’s diet if you’re already feeding them a high-quality and high-protein feed.
So, remember: Don’t panic the next time your chickens start to lose their feathers and stop laying eggs!
Remember, it’s all part of the natural process.