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November 3, 2017
how to be supportive during this embarrassing time
Chickens that go into molt will slowly lose their old feathers and new feathers will grow in the place of old. Young birds will shed their feathers twice during the first 6 months of their life although this is a much more gradual process and normally it is only the feathers lying around the run that gives this away, visually, youngsters still carry plenty of feathers. When new feathers are growing through (called 'pin' feathers) it can be painful for a bird to be handled so take care if you need to catch or hold them.
Feathers are 85% protein so when birds molt, replacing their feathers, laying hens will usually stop producing eggs. Eggs are made up mainly of protein and it is too much for a hen to produce new feathers and eggs.
It’s best to supplement you molting chicken’s ration with additional protein. Some folks feed chick starter or a meat builder ration instead of layer, others add fish meal, and 'old timers' often recommend dried cat food as a good source of protein; a handful of this a day can help top up your birds protein levels. Good quality cat food protein comes from clean meats and is rich in amino acids which will help them get back into laying after they have finished their molt but most hens molt in the autumn and early winter so daylight hours will be short and they may not come back into laying until the early spring.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a great help to chickens at times of stress and is packed with vitamins and minerals. It can easily be added to their water to help them through this difficult time.