Now is the time of year that our coops and pens will be filled with feathers. One day I thought there’d been a predator attack. No, it’s just their annual molt. Chickens lose feathers throughout the year, but once a year they lose large amounts of feathers over a period of just a few weeks. It usually looks awful, but it allows them to replace broken or missing feathers.
As you can see Simon has lost his tail feathers, Luna has patches missing all over and Nova has lost feathers on her head and her lower back.
In a few weeks, they’ll look great but in the meantime, how can we support our birds? Feathers consist of up to 90% protein, so we’ll need to boost their protein intake to help with them through it.
Feed them any of the following:
- Eggs: either scrambled or chopped, hard-boiled
- Meat: chickens are omnivores and do like meat (including chicken and turkey)
- Fish (if canned, then no salt)
- Canned cat food
- Chick crumbles (22% protein)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sprouted Lentils
- Sunflower Seeds
- Oats (if you’re feeling generous make them porridge. Don’t use quick oats that contain salt or sugar)
Another side effect of molting is their laying slows down, or stops altogether, since protein is diverted from egg laying to feather production. The bonus of getting them through their molt quickly is we’ll start getting more eggs. Win-win for the hens and us.