Can I 'force' a moult for my flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Godiva, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    880
    3
    161
    May 17, 2007
    Colorado
    I have a flock of layers that is looking terribly worn and moth eaten. A few of them look fine (mostly the broodies that seem to moult at the end of their broody stint and grow all their feathers in new...) but there are a few that are Bojangles favourites and they look awful. I have hen saddles on the worst ones but there are still some very raw spots on some of them. I have put Bojangles into a separate area and he gets to run with them every other day for a few hours while they free range for a while (he does a great job looking out for hawks etc).

    My question is, can I bring on a moult for these hens? I was wondering if I cut back the hours of light to about 10 tonight if that would bring on a moult so they could all refeather? I know I would lose out on the eggs but I am concerned about some of the hens health, a few of them look really raw... Ideas anyone? Does anyone else do this, can it be done?
     
  2. 98 gt

    98 gt a man of many... chickens

    627
    1
    141
    Jan 14, 2009
    Marshville NC
    with holding light and food can "force" a moult.. (they think its the beginning of winter)
     
  3. moduckman

    moduckman Chillin' With My Peeps

    556
    5
    131
    Jan 2, 2009
    Cairo, Missouri
    Technically yes. It is not the most pleasent thing, but you can bring on an earlier moult by penning the birds and providing just enough food and water to survive for 10 to 14 days. Next pull their damaged feathers in the tail and wings. next add a lot of protein to their diet, giving them all the food and water they want. This will keep them out of moult for the next six months. It is mainly done to counter the summer state fairs when the birds normally go to moult.
     
  4. moduckman

    moduckman Chillin' With My Peeps

    556
    5
    131
    Jan 2, 2009
    Cairo, Missouri
    oops, double post.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  5. MoodyChicken

    MoodyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,869
    14
    181
    Feb 15, 2009
    Northern California
    You can force molt, but it's a very stressful situation on the bird. You decrease daylight hours, withdraw food for a week, and some even suggest removing water for a day or two. I'd recommend against it and continue what you're doing. they may not look attractive but they're healthy.
     
  6. DixieDame67

    DixieDame67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    158
    0
    129
    Jan 13, 2008
    Jonesbourgh Tennessee
    WOW , i have a little frizzle hen that has to be molting shes so pitiful, she looks like a chicken on chemo , love her heart.....i requested some chicken saddles from someone that makes them on here but no reply [​IMG] this weekend im going to make my own ...not sure i could with hold food and water , i would feel like a shmuck ....but great information as i was also wondering if you could force a molt, kinda like forcing a tulip to bloom at Christmas huh [​IMG]
     
  7. MoodyChicken

    MoodyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,869
    14
    181
    Feb 15, 2009
    Northern California
    Quote:If she's molting naturally definitely don't withhold food and water. She needs the nutrients to support her body and her feather growth. The goal behind force molting is the stress the heck out of the bird so it drops its feathers, then you pack em full of protein. I don't think it's a good thing to do. The only reason I'd ever do it is if I had to stop egg production because of eggbinding issues. Other than that, I'd let them go through the process naturally.

    They do look awfully pitiful when they molt. Like a chicken with chemo... that's a good description.
     
  8. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    If we were entering winter and the days were decreasing it might be different, but with the days getting longer and the birds already sounding stressed, I'd be inclined to give them a little more protein and support their energy. What you may get then is a gradual moult and renewal of feathers. The thing is that a moult represents hormonal changes too, a very tricky business.
     
  9. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    880
    3
    161
    May 17, 2007
    Colorado
    Thanks for the information folks. Should I add protein in the form of crushed cat food to their layer mash? And if so how much? I really don't want to stress them more! though it is interesting to hear how to do it. If I just increase the protein and hope that they will feather in better over time, will that work? This is the first time I have kept the lights on in the coop all winter long and I am now wondering if I should have let them all moult ... always something to learn...

    Will they gradually replace the feathers that have worn out and been scraped out by the mounting if the roo is not with them all the time anymore? Or do they only refeather once a year during a full blown moult?
     
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would think that moist cat food, tinned fish (no salt) or yogurt would all be good sources of protein. Provided your girls have no other problems, they should get their feathering back soon. I don't know the answer about your roo and feathers because I have no experience with roos. As for the amount of protein, keep it small, perhaps no more than a tsp per bird twice a day- you don't want to imbalance the layer feed unduly.

    There's no sign of mites or lice is there? This is a good chance for some preventive coop treatments like food-grade DE and/or a recognized poultry insect treatment in nest boxes and crevices. I've been renewing bedding, finally, after a long winter![​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by