Molting is the natural process of shedding old feathers and growing new ones. Molting usually happens in the fall, triggered by shorter days and cooler temperatures. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Molting can be a painful and stressful time for your flock. Here are four things you can do to help.
- Always make feed and water available to your flock. Feathers are made of mostly protein, so increasing their intake of protein during molt will help them grow feathers faster. Supplement their feed with high protein snacks such as mealworms or black oil sunflower seeds (in moderation, of course). Mix some chick starter in with your layer feed, as it typically has higher protein content. Fine Feathers Water Additive can also support molting and increase protein intake
- Don’t touch them! Newly forming feathers are fragile and can easily be damaged. Also, your chickens will be very sensitive to touching during this time. Try not to handle them as much as possible. Healthy Hen Rosemary Magic is an all-natural feed additive that has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. It’ll help soothe your hens during molt.
- Keep an eye on the underdogs. If new pin feathers are damaged, they can bleed profusely, which can trigger an attack from the higher status hens in your flock. Keep an eye out for this behavior and separate your chickens if necessary. Use Zen Hen Soothing Quiet Time Spray as a way to reduce stress in your coop and quiet hens naturally.
- Keep the stress down. Molting season is no time to introduce a lot of changes to your flock. Avoid introducing new chickens to the group, changing the coop environment or changing their usual routine. All these things can add stress to chickens who are already under the stress of molting. A low-stress environment will help them get through their molt quicker.
Your chickens will each start their molt at different times. Some will molt quickly, and some will take their time. Typically molting can take anywhere from three to sixteen weeks. But in the end, you’ll have a flock full of beautiful glossy new feathers… until next year when the molting cycle begins again.