Confused about Molting diet. protein or not?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ReiMiraa, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. ReiMiraa

    ReiMiraa Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm at Washington State University and today was career and internship expo.

    There was a Wilcox booth (they do dairy and eggs)

    So i asked them some questions. BTW their free range chickens are true free range eggs, get to see grass, more pasture like. They don't let the free range ones molt, supplemented lighting in the winter.

    The production egg layers (battery chickens) go into a forced molt once a year by limiting light down to 8 hours.

    I asked the guy what the ration is for a molting bird. (he cant go into specifics of course, trade secret)
    "Less protein, more high energy foods"

    Since he is in the chicken egg industry i figure he might know more than me.

    So since my chickens will be molting soon i plan to feed them more ground corn and less layer food. though corn does contain 7% protein.....

    Just thought i would post this interesting conversation i had with someone in the Washington State poultry (egg) industry.

    Feel free to debate or comment.
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Well, never having run a production house, I can only guess. My guess is that since the production houses starve them into a molt (no feed for a month), they must bring them back with lower protein feed at first so as not to tax their digestive systems. Protein is harder to digest, and you wouldn't start out with high protein if you have been starving them. You could kill them.

    Just a guess.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    The production egg layers (battery chickens) go into a forced molt once a year by limiting light down to 8 hours

    Interesting that they do that. Around here, battery hens are processed at 56 to 60 weeks, approximately 15 months old; before they ever have a chance to go into their first adult molt.
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would guess that the less protein, more high energy is part of their forced molt process. Only thing I can figure out as obviously the chicken uses more protein during a molt, not less.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I know nothing about how they control or experiment with chicken physiology or biological functions in the chicken industry. I do know that egg laying requires protein. I do know that feather production/regeneration requires protein. So when my birds are molting, I'm going to feed them extra protein when I can... [​IMG]
  6. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:LOL -
    You might want to do some research before you try to spread roomers like this.
    A bird in a cage with no food for a month is dead! If you would starve them into a molt just think how long it would take to get there health up to pare so that they could lay eggs again.

  7. HomegrownCaSW

    HomegrownCaSW Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 2, 2010
    We've been raising hens(no roosters) for 7 years now. For the first 4 years we'd slaughter the hens prior to molt since most were dual purpose or meat birds and didn't have a prayer to last throughout the summer here. (triple digits start in June and end in early Oct) and we didn't have the housing figured out for them. So I really didn't have to worry about protein and molting.

    The last 24 brood we purchased from McMurray, three years ago, are all leghorn varieties of hens.
    8-Single Comb Brown Leghorns, 8-Anconas, and 8-Minorca. We only lost 6 birds in three years, 4 from heat and 2 from hen-pecking.

    I notice my girls shedding feathers all summer long (bless their hearts, that's one way to stay cool) but now that the weather is cooling, I'm stepping up the protein treats. (They had leftover goulash this morning, and half a bag of shredded cheddar cheese yesterday:) Half of them are almost feathered already. Only ones left are the Minorca. By the way--if you live in the desert southwest, in triple digit temps, I would highly recommend the Minorca. Only lost one Minorca hen in 3 years! (They shed a lot of feathers and look pretty ratty, but they are very productive and hearty)
  8. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    I dont get too techincal about their diet during their molt, which they are doing now. Just some scrambled egg, maybe some cat food, black oil sunflower seed and cracked corn in addition to their regular food which is game bird flyer finshisher which I think is a little higher in protein than layer feed but Im not sure. We do just fine each year and havent lost a bird yet in 3 years.
  9. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Quote:Actually the free range ones that don't get to do a natural molt are the ones being forced into something unnatural. A molt is the birds' way of recharging their batteries and giving their bodies time to get ready for another laying cycle. Birds not allowed to molt have much shorter lives overall.

    I up my birds' protein levels during a molt since protein is required to re-grow feathers.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010

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