Are my chickens molting, if so can I feed them fish to supplement protein?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by chooki, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. chooki

    chooki In the Brooder

    May 14, 2014
    I have 2 isa brown chickens, they are about 18-19 months old.

    In the past few months, they seem to have problems with their feathers:



    Those two are free range chickens, free to roaming about in our backyard (roughly 400sqm - 500sqm), on the lawn. We mix breakfast cereal with bird seeds, that's their main food. Often they get noodles and bread or plain dough. Sometimes they get cucumbers (they don't eat vegetable scraps). Occasionally they get fruits (cherries or watermelon leftover because they only eat red fruits). We also eat a lot of prawns and they get all the prawn heads.

    Do my birds need protein? I am thinking of feeding them fish because it's rich in protein.

    I bulk bought 2kg-3kg of fish fillets today and cooked 3 small ones. I gave my chickens a quarter and my chooks loved it!

    My questions are that

    1) Are my chickens molting?

    2) Can I feed them fish to help they re-grow their feathers as fish is a good source of protein. If so, how much should I be feeding my birds everyday and for how long?

  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    If they are molting, it is a very slow molt. More likely is their coat is just getting old. The diet they are on isn't high enough in protein. During the warm months they were able to supplement with insects to make up for the much to low breakfast cereal and bird seed you are giving them. I would guess that diet is around 10% protein, while they need 16% or better. Fish will help with its added protein. Any meat will as well. About half a ounce a day for bird should enough to bring it up to a more acceptable level. Is there a reason you are using cereal and bird seed rather then a balanced feed?
  3. chooki

    chooki In the Brooder

    May 14, 2014
    Thanks for the insight.

    I bought my chooks when they were 3-4 weeks old and they were on chicken pellets for about a year. Then I switched to free range poultry mix (ideal for laying hens, so they advertise) because it's easier to get as supermarkets here don't sell chicken pellets. But last time, I accidentally bought large quantity of wild bird mix, because I am inexperienced and they looked awfully like free range poultry mix.

    We do give them meat fillets frequently, but those are fatty.
  4. chooki

    chooki In the Brooder

    May 14, 2014
    Also when do isa browns molt?

    I read somewhere that they molt when they are about 16 months - 18 months. My chickens are about 18 month - 19 months, it's near the end of summer here, but my chooks show no sign of molting.
  5. kwcoop

    kwcoop In the Brooder

    Apr 12, 2014
    West central Indiana
    I have 6 of these that are 22 months old. 1 molted about 3 months ago, 1 did about 3 weeks ago. The other 4 have not yet. The pics of urs don't look like they are molting. Mine had huge chunks of feathers gone while they were going thru it. The molted ones now are by far our best looking hens.
  6. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The answer is yes, fish protein is an excellent source of animal protein and will help tremendously in growing new feathers, and it's a good supplement to any poultry diet. I use canned mackerel.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    My guess you are in the southern hemisphere which I think you should be about halfway through your summer. Part of the molt may very well be underway although with birds in good nutrition / health only the flight feathers of the wings should be in the process of being replaced. If like mine they should be about half way done with replacement of wing flight feathers, maybe a little less. Replacment of pelage and tail feathers should begin soon which is when egg production typically takes a dive.

    The prawn heads are good source of protein although the hens would need several every day. Fish also good as indicated by Azygous above. The fish needs to be applied consistently every day. The balance of feed applied as described is not sufficient for meeting protein needs of hens in extended periods of lay. The free-range area they have is likely not enough to keep two hens in good protein status as they likely are over grazing the animal forages. Look into using legume seeds / sprouts of some sort to get additional protein in on the plant side.

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