Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Annual Moult

As a new poultry keeper it can be quite distressing  to see your chickens looking scruffy and balding and you may worry that there is something more sinister going on when they stop laying, but rest assured, the annual moult is perfectly natural.  

Most chickens shed their feathers in late summer or early autumn, and as this coincides with a time of the year when there is less daylight hours, it can sometimes put the birds under further 'stress' as the production of vitamin D3 is reduced and there is less time to scratch around for high protein grubs.  

Depending on the breed, it can take around 6 to 12 weeks for the moult to complete, during which time you may find only the occasional egg being laid. Replenishing feathers requires protein and so it is perhaps too much to ask that our girls continue to support egg production whilst simultaneously producing feathers.  Like hens, cockerels also moult and are likely to be infertile at this time as they lose body weight and their reproductive physiology is undergoing a resting phase, so they too will benefit from extra protein to help them put on body fat. 

In extreme cases, if a bird is not getting enough protein, it may peck and eat the feathers of other birds, which can cause bad habits that can be hard to break and result in bullying behaviour as a result of feather pecking.  

If you are wondering what to feed your chickens during the moult, then protein is the key and nutrition is especially important during this period.  Here are 3 top ways to help your moulting flock:

FEED A HIGH PROTEIN FEED

It is important to feed your chickens a good, high quality protein rich diet at this time of year. Layers Pellets should contain around 16% protein and we can recommend feeding Garvo Alfamix for Chickens.

SUPPLEMENT YOUR FEED WITH HIGH PROTEIN TREATS

Our chickens always appreciate a treat but not all are created equal. At this time of the year it is worth considering swapping out the windfall apples and pears and cabbage leaves for a superfood treat such as Natures Grub Superfood Poultry Treat.

ADD A TONIC

Our Flyte So Fancy Oreganico Poultry Tonic is a natural solution of Oregano oils to boost your birds' immune system at a time like this and can in fact used as as prophylactic throughout the year. Just a few drops added to the drinking water is all that is needed. A very cost effective tonic which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, offering a natural alternative to antibiotics. 

If you are dealing with chickens that are looking really sorry for themselves, during the annual moult or perhaps if you are re-homing ex-battery hens, try adding the Flyte So Fancy Cal-Boost, a concentrated calcium and mineral supplement containing Vitamin D3.


If you have any questions about how to best care for your hens during the annual moult, why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading.

Phill