Autumn is a time for pumpkins, falling leaves, and Thanksgiving dinners. It’s also the time for chickens to start molting. Every year starting at around 18 months of age, chickens will shed their old feathers in order to grow new ones. It’s triggered by the shortening of days in the fall months, and it can last anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks.
Chicken molting is not a fun process, but it can be managed by properly preparing yourself and your flock in the weeks leading up to it. Here’s how:
Adjust your feed
Feathers are rich in protein (roughly 80-85%), so when chickens molt, they can risk losing too much of those vital nutrients. As such, you need to supplement their feed to adjust for this loss. Switch to a feed that is rich in protein and cut back on the number of treats that you give your chickens during this time.
Clean the coop and run more often
While you should be keeping your coop and run clean at all times, you will likely find yourself cleaning more often while your chickens are molting. Part of this is because you’ll have to pick up any loose feathers that are lying about. However, keeping a clean environment is also more important while your chickens are molting. While your chickens’ skin is bare, they are more prone to infections, so reducing their exposure to bacteria is a must.
Check for parasites
Parasites such as mites or lice can complicate the molting process, disrupting how your chickens regrow their feathers. Continuously check for these parasites amongst your flock and treat them accordingly to ensure your chickens molt as they should.
Keep your chickens relaxed
When your chickens are molting, they can be more sensitive than usual. Try to keep them as comfortable as possible by providing them with enough space to spread out and relax. Additionally, try not to add new members to the flock during this time, as it could disrupt the pecking order and cause unnecessary stress to molting chickens.
For more information on how to care for your molting chickens, contact Chickens for Backyard today.