The chicken moult

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the ‘girls’ before moulting

If you’ve never seen a chicken moulting in Autumn before, the sight of a partially feathered, plucked looking chook can be quite confronting. I have to explain to chookless friends that come to visit this time of year that ‘No, the chooks are fine and healthy and no, a fox hasn’t got into the pen and attacked them’.

So why do chickens moult? Well, as daylight hours reduce and the weather cools, most chickens will take a few months off from laying. They also renew their feathers and as the new feathers come through the old ones get pushed out. For some chickens this process is quite gradual and they may loose a few feathers here and there while for others all the feathers seem to suddenly fall out overnight. This can result in a partially naked chook and a chook pen full of loose feathers. Once they’ve completed their moult they’ll be all set for the colder weather in winter and it is said they are also more resistant to disease.

chickens moulting

Two of my chooks part way through moulting with new pin feathers coming through

While the chooks are going through their moult they will require more protein in their diet as their feathers contain more than 80% protein. You can buy higher protein chook pellets, but I like to up the protein in their diet by giving the chooks plenty of access to insects. I do this by allowing them more time free ranging in the leaf litter under our trees, feeding them some worms from the worm farm and providing more sunflower seeds in their diet.

I also like to feed them a general health mash which I make up from yogurt or milk mixed with weetbix, grated carrot, finely chopped garlic and turmeric. I feed this to them warmed up once a week and they absolutely devour it. Once the chickens have finished their moult I also like to give their pen a good clean out, change their bedding and scrub their nesting boxes and put in fresh branches for perches so that they are all set to face the winter months.

chicken moulting

‘Magpie’ in moult

 

3 thoughts on “The chicken moult

  1. Pingback: The chicken moult – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

  2. I sadly can no longer keep chooks as I have a rat problem. The rats chew through my gas ducted heating and stomp around in the roof space at all hours. I have a very nice large chook house to give away to anyone who would like to dismantle it and cart it to there place.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s