Food to help feather growth?


8 Years
May 24, 2011
Hi this is my first post so sorry If this has been a topic a while ago. Two weeks ago I rescued four battery hens. They are wonderful but totally bald and very underweight. I was told to give them some warm porridge oats (made with water) in the morning to help warm them up but I was wondering if this is ok? Will oats harm them? During the day i dig up worms from the garden and They get an ex battery mash food and at about 8pm I give them some cooked vegetables (I use a wide variety but swede and parsnip seems to be popular) to warm them up before bed. They have a poultry tonic in their water too but is there anything else I can do to help encourage feather growth? Or do you have any tips on things I can do to put condition on them? I would be very grateful for any advice as these are my first chickens and I'm very keen to learn how to give them the best possible life after their terrible start.

Bless you for giving those hens a second chance at a peaceful, happy life.

Protein is what your hens need for feather growth. Feathers are just like our fingernails, they are grown from protein. The porridge and veggies sound fine, but there's not much in the way of protein there.

How about some scrambled eggs with a little shredded cheese mixed in? Some plain yogurt, small amounts of dry cat food and even some nuts - pecan, walnut; also black oil sunflower seeds. Think of the things you yourself would eat to gain protein in your diet. Chances are the hens would love it too.

You still may have to wait until they've undergone a moult before they come out looking beautiful on the other side.

Good luck to you and your girls. May they have many happy years with you.
Thank you so much for your quick response I will try to incorporate more protein into their diets. tomorrow morning I will give them scrambled egg with some grated cheese. I will also get some sunflower seeds tomorrow. Again thank you so much for your reply I know I have only had the girls for two weeks but I feel like I've had them forever and I do love them so much :)
I had gotten 3 chickens who looked scrawny and ones's back was bare from overmating. Black oil sunflower as a supplement to their layer feed had them looking great in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Battery hen is a hen that was used in a large production egg laying operation. Generally characterized by being housed in cages too small for decent mobility and a host of other unappealing things.

However, IMO battery hens can also be "free range" if their purpose is mass production and they are housed in giant sheds instead of cages.

The life is still the same.
Yes a battery hen is a commercial laying hen kept in cages. They have an A4 paper space in the cage where they spend their life on metal bars. All my hens are featherless and emaciated they have only quills on their wings. One has a broken wing one has pressure sores on her chest from the cage she was in. They're all less than 17 months old and all were going to slaughter had I not rehomed them. If you have some room in your flock why not contact a battery rescue?
I wouldn't change their diet too quickly. Regular layer feed is probably best for a while, and then start incorpoating other treats. Wet cat food is REALLY great when they need a boost, as well as table scraps from your roast chicken/ham/steak. Not a LOT of meat, but a bit will help.

Scrambled eggs and yogurt are great go-to treats, but make sure you are still feeding them what they were getting at the production facility.

FINALLY- they me be in molt, as well as being featherless from picking. Since it is warming up, don't worry too much, but make sure they have a place to be warm, as well as a place to be in the shade. Chickens with sunburns= baked chicken!

(I have a new bird who is mostly naked--REAALY bad molt. The kids named her NekkidButt. Sunburn is a worry here)

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