Poultry Feed For Molting Season
Healthy Feed For Poultry
During the fall molting season, your chickens will begin to lose their feathers and grow in new ones in preparation for the upcoming cold weather. Old, broken and dirty feathers don’t protect them from the winter chill like nice new feathers do. When it gets cold, a chicken will fluff its feathers, trapping the warm air underneath and against her body to stay warm. A new set of feathers fluffs better and will keep your chickens warmer.
The molt can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, with your better layers tending to molt very hard and fast, while your poor layers often taking their sweet time about it and any loss of feathers hardly even noticeable. A molt always follows the same pattern, starting at the head, then working its way down the neck, across the back and breast, and then finally to the wings, tail and rear. Some chickens will continue to lay through the beginning stages of their molt, then taper off, needing all their energy and nutrients concentrated towards growing in the new feathers. Others will stop laying as soon as they start molting.
Since feathers are made up primarily of protein, adding some natural protein sources to your flock’s diet in the fall can help the molt go more smoothly and the feathers grow in more quickly.
Adding these herbs fresh, free-choice, or dried and mixed into your chickens’ diet is beneficial during the molt. Feed one, feed a blend of them — it’s up to you. A few cups of them dried and mixed into layer feed is a great way to introduce them to your flock if your chickens aren’t used to eating these herbs. Otherwise, if you have fresh herbs, you can feed them free-choice to your chickens and let them pick and choose how much they want or need to eat. The herbs are all extremely nutritious and can be added to your flock’s diet year round, but are specifically helpful during the molting season.
Lisa Steele is the author of Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). She lives on a small hobby farm in Virginia with her husband and their flock of chickens and ducks, plus horses, dogs and a barn cat. She is a fifth-generation chicken keeper and writes about her experiences on her award-winning blog at www.fresheggsdaily.com. In her free time she loves to garden, bake, knit and sip homebrewed herbal teas.