How to Support your Chickens through a Moult

Author: Aussie Chook Supplies  

Chooks not laying?
Feather explosion in your backyard?
Half bald patches on your girls?

Autumn is the time when daylight hours decrease and most chooks moult their old feathers and regrow new ones in their place, similar to how dogs and cats shed their old coats. Some chickens can lose a handful and look no different, others will look like they survived an attack by a determined plucking machine.

The fastest way to get your girls into prime condition (and ready for the cold winter months when they need their feather doonas) is to increase their protein levels. Feathers are mainly protein and chickens mostly redirect the protein from their food into feather regrowth instead of egg production.

The fastest way to increase their protein intake is a good quality, high protein pellet (we prefer Laucke Showbird MP or anything similar which has over 17% protein) or fermented grain.

A prevelant myth that persists in the poultry worls is to feed your chickens/poultry fish-based cat food or tins of tuna/sardines for a protein boost. Most fish or cat food contain around 8% protein, which is actually significantly less than a good quality chicken food so you are actually decreasing their overall protein level. It is perfectly acceptable to give fish products to chickens, and they love it and will love you for it, but just be aware that this is more of a treat than something beneficial re: protein levels. 

If you are open to the idea of supplementing their diet for a protein boost, the addition of Meat and Bone Meal or Dried Mealworms, both of which are over 50% protein, either added into their food or as a daily treat is also very helpful.

Adding Aussie Chook Supplies Healthy Chook Spice Mix to their food provides great benefits also. Healthy Chook Spice Mix is a highly palatable, all natural feed additive which provides a great protein boost, immune boosting properties to assist with stress (moulting is stressful) and a probiotic mix to help with improved gut health.

A return to egg laying is a bit more complex and will occur when most feathers have regrown... but chickens also need around 14 hours of daylight to stimulate the hormones necessary to lay eggs. This is why chickens will start/resume egg laying in the Spring months onwards. Most chicken keepers are familiar with the lack of egg production during the colder months and accept their chickens have a rest from egg laying until they naturally resume in spring...

But if eggs are important you can provide an artificial source of light for a few hours extra every day to mimic natural light and they will continue to provide eggs during the colder months. A popular, low cost option for most stand alone coop setups are solar lights on a timer that start in the early morning hours to extend the daylight hours.

Either way, enjoy those yummy eggs!