Can molting bring stress to my ladies?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by spies04, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. spies04

    spies04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I have a group of old ladies and an elderly rooster who are molting. They seem like they are moving slow and "tired". Can the molting be hard on the elderly? I see in other posts to begin feeding more protein but cat food can be higher in salt. So, any ideas other than mealworms to increase their protein levels?

    Thank you for your help!!
     
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  2. nab58

    nab58 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been using Nutri-drench. It contains vitamins and molasses. Perhaps you can supplement with some molasses if you don't want to get something special.
     
  3. Susan49

    Susan49 Out Of The Brooder

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    I was wondering the same thing and stopped by looking for information, so thanks for asking the question!

    I have two flocks, the older girls are in their 2nd year and it's their first moult. The newer girls just started laying in August and are not moulting, though egg production is down a bit as the days are getting down below 12 hours of light now.

    I've been worried for the past month or so as I've noticed an increasingly low energy level in the older flock. I've even had a few birds spend some time in my chicken hospital because they seem so down in the dumps. All have had good appetites though, and despite some non-specific, temporary intestinal upset, seem to get a bit perkier after a few days. But nothing like my newer girls.

    I did worm the entire flock, and treated for cocci on account of some loose poops, but nothing really changed. It's almost like there's a depressed sort of feeling in the coop compared to my newer flock who are perky, energetic and very chatty. The older girls don't seem to talk as much, aren't as energetic, and many of them seem to be going through a few days of tummy upset and reduced appetite, though none are obviously ill and after a few days of this they're back to normal with their appetite and poops.

    I've been giving them a bit of molasses and some chicken vitamins a few days a week, lots of fresh greens from the garden (as usual) and have also started giving them fermented feed again. They go wild for this and I know it's so good for their gut, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

    I'm not sure I would have noticed the reduced energy level except that my newer flock is so much more energetic by comparison. Everyone always talks about the obvious physical signs of moulting, but I've never read anything about how it affects them in other ways. Is it normal for birds in moult to show a drop in energy level, spend more time napping or just lounging around, and be less chatty and perky than usual?
     
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  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    YES! Molting is a huge stress, especially as they become older. It takes a lot of vitamins and protein to grow in feathers. Egg issues (they don't quit laying entirely, not always) and crop issues can also come up during a very hard molt. It may also not be the molt, per se, but the molt can make any underlying issues already present to become worse.

    Be careful with worming. That in itself can be a stress. So, unless you have reason to believe they have worms, it may not be prudent to worm a bird in full molt.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
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  5. DanEP

    DanEP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well the older girls won't be as energetic as the new girls that's normal, I know I had a lot more energy when I was 17 than I did at thirty.
    Molting can be hard on your chickens, some more than others so being sluggish and a little grumpy is normal.Growing new feathers takes a lot of protein so raising their protein is all you can do. Some will molt and be back to normal in 3-4 weeks some may take two months but this is normal so don't worry. Just give them higher protein feed to help them out and be patient. I just feed 18% protein feed and find that the higher protein will help them get through the molt quicker and the extra protein won't hurt anybody.
     
  6. JoshU

    JoshU Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have some extra eggs, probably not, but you could scramble a few for them. I never use dog or cat food. I have been in arguments about it. I suggest you use a catfish pellet or something similar that is meant for an animal that is to be consumed by humans. Mine are 32% protein so don't overdo it. I would never give anything to by chickens, which I eat both them and their eggs, that says right on the bag "not for human consumption" Others may say different. That's my two cents. Good luck. I hope its just a little stress that will go away soon.
     
  7. Susan49

    Susan49 Out Of The Brooder

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    OK thanks everyone. I will add some 18% grower crumble to my fermentation vat, and see that they get extra supplements as well. I've got lots of extra goat milk in my freezer, so perhaps some home made yogurt would be a nice treat as well. So relieved to hear this is normal, but sure do miss my perky flock and can't wait for Spring to come!
     
  8. spies04

    spies04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This has been a great post - thank you all! One more question - what are you using for "vitamins" that you supplement with and how to you give it? Orally? Water?

    [​IMG]This is exactly why I recommend this site to everyone getting into or thinking about chickens!!
     
  9. JoshU

    JoshU Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A good balance feed has all the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy flocks. Nothing else is necessary.
     
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Advice from a long time (well over 50 years) chicken keeper, breeder, NPIP tester for our state about protein during molt: in his opinion, adding a great deal of protein during the molt doesn't necessarily help grow a "better" feather. They may feather a little faster, but they feather better if they do it slower, is what I think he was getting at. Just throwing it out there for you to mull over. Most anything this man tells me, I'll take it to the bank. He knows his stuff.

    During molts, I don't usually add much extra anything. I may get a bag of the 22% Super Layer rather than the usual 16% and run that through the flocks if I have a large number molting, but I don't do much else.
     

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