A Molting Chicken Is a Pretty Chicken…Well, It Will Be
Are your chickens looking featherless and ugly? Don’t be alarmed!
Borrowed from Nutrena’s blog, Scoop from the Coop.
Molting is a natural phase that chickens go through every year, beginning 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 arrives.
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 its feathers at once.
A “hard molt” means that the chicken loses all of its feathers at once.
A “soft molt,” however, is when a chicken loses feathers over a longer period.
Chickens use molting to build up their nutrient reserves. As a result of redirecting nutrients exclusively to themselves, chickens either slowly or entirely stop laying eggs.
But just because your chickens are not laying eggs doesn’t mean their diet should change. It’s important that they continue to eat a high-quality diet to grow a full vest of 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, preferably feed that is specific to feather regrowth. A feed mixture specific for meat birds is high in protein, and mealworms and boonworms are not only treats for chickens but great sources of protein.
Another way to help your chickens through molt is to reduce stress in their environment as much as possible. During a molt try to avoid handling your chickens or bringing new birds into their flock. Molting will take between 4 and 16 weeks, so be patient.
You do not need to add any medications or other vitamins to your chicken’s diet if you are already feeding them a high-quality and high-protein feed.
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, do not panic the next time your chickens start to lose their feathers and stop laying eggs!
Remember, it is all part of the natural process.