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Tips & Tricks

 

Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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Moulting Season

Facts & Tips, General

Don’t be alarmed if you start to see feathers on the ground and sometimes naked chooks at this time of year (end of summer, beginning of autumn). For backyard chickens, shorter days often signal time for a break. Birds may stop laying eggs, lose old feathers and grow new ones.

This annual break from egg laying is called moulting.

Moulting is the process of shedding and renewing feathers. During moult, the reproductive system of your chickens has a complete rest from laying and they begin to build up body reserves of nutrients.

You’ll often first notice that feathers are losing their sheen. Hens may then gradually lose a few feathers or it could happen overnight. Typically they will start to lose feathers at the head, then down the back, sides and thighs and finally, tail feathers are shed.

During moulting your chickens need a considerable amount of good quality food to replace feathers and build up condition.

The number one nutrient switches from calcium to protein. This is because feathers are made of 80-85 per cent protein, eggshells are primarily calcium. Our calci-protein blend and protein power bars are perfect for boosting your chooks protein levels. If you can switch to a higher protein feed such as red hen 17. A high-protein complete feed can help hens channel nutrients into feather regrowth and get back to laying eggs.

Some high protein treats also include:

Keep stress levels as low as possible for chooks during moult.

The area where the feather shaft meets the skin can be very sensitive, reduce handling and provide plenty of clean bedding. Offer enough space for your birds to rest and relax in private.

Keep an eye on hens who are often lower in the pecking order, to make sure that they’re not being pecked and bullied by others.

Also, watch for any other signs of illness – moulting is a time when a chicken’s immune system can be depleted as all their energy goes into making feathers.

I’d also avoid introducing new flock members during this time. Adding in new friends and potentially re-shuffling the pecking order could add stress.

At the end of the day, don’t worry. Moulting is a perfectly natural process. Once your chickens have been through their moult and grown their new coat you’ll see a big difference. The new coat will be glossy and perfectly formed, covering the skin and protecting from wind, rain and frost.

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