Molt! Here's why your flock is losing feathers.
It's that confusing time of year when your birds don't look quite as pretty. As your flock prepares for winter, you might see some excess feathers on the ground and possibly a drop in egg production. Don't be alarmed—this is a normal pre-winter process that birds go through to prepare themselves for the colder season.
Molt is characterized as the shedding of old feathers and regrowth of new feathers. Young birds experience what is known as juvenile molt, which happens between 7 to 12 weeks of age. After that, adult birds generally molt once a year before the winter season sets in. However, in warmer climates, molt can seem very random.
Molt can be a painful process for birds—making their skin very sensitive and taking up to 8 weeks to complete. Some birds may even pick on their fellow birds as they go through molt. It is important to monitor their behavior during this time frame.
Support your flock with nutrition.
Feathers are nearly 90% protein, so the body’s reserves will be prioritized for feather production over egg production. One way to support your birds during molt and replenish their protein reserves is to increase the protein and fat in their feed. New Country Organics’ Flock Perfect Chicken Dance Grubs are dried black soldier fly larvae, a nutrient-dense treat that is high in protein, quality fat, calcium, and lysine. In addition to keeping your flock happy, feeding these grubs will also keep the environment happy, as these sustainable grubs are fed on food waste that would otherwise go to landfills.
Switching your flock over to a New Country Organics’ Grower/Broiler feed can also support them during molt, as this feed is 2% higher protein than our layer feeds. Many flock owners like to ferment our Grower/Broiler feeds, as lacto-fermentation increases nutrient absorption and aids overall digestion and gut health—giving a molting flock a little extra nutritional boost!
Molt can be very discouraging as a chicken owner, but don’t lose heart! This is actually a very beneficial break for your hard-working flock. Winter is a great time to focus on quality nutrition so that your flock is in the best shape possible when laying resumes.