How to help chickens through molt? Do I need to do anything?

romahunter

In the Brooder
Apr 5, 2017
11
3
39
Bolton, MA
My girls are 18 months old and going through their first annual big molt. This is my first time too. Is there anything I should be doing differently? I heard I should give them more protein, handle them less, make sure they are not stressed. Am I missing anything? How much more protein? Are there special feeds for molting chickens?
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
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'Feather Fixer' is a molting feed. It has a little less calcium and a little more protein than regular layer feed.
Birds not actively laying eggs don't need (and shouldn't have) the high calcium in layer feed. You can switch to an 'all flock' or grower feed for a bit more protein and less calcium.
A couple % points in protein is a dramatic increase, so 18-20% is plenty.
Or feeding a more moderate protein, you could add some animal protein like meat, fish or crickets/mealworms to the diet which will be higher in essential amino acids than regular chicken feed.
 
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romahunter

In the Brooder
Apr 5, 2017
11
3
39
Bolton, MA
'Feather Fixer' is a molting feed. It has a little less calcium and a little more protein than regular layer feed.
Birds not actively laying eggs don't need (and shouldn't have) the high calcium in layer feed. You can switch to an 'all flock' or grower feed for a bit more protein and less calcium.
A couple % points in protein is a dramatic increase, so 18-20% is plenty.
Or feeding a more moderate protein, you could add some animal protein like meat, fish or crickets/mealworms to the diet which will be higher in essential amino acids than regular chicken feed.


Thanks for the advice. If I go with the supplementation route, now much should I give every day? i.e., This morning I gave them a can of sardines (in water, drained). I have 6 chickens, so each got 2/3 of a sardine. I fed each one to make sure that there wasn't any bullying going on. Is that enough or do they need more? I understand that it's important to not overdo it either.
 

ChickenCanoe

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That's probably enough. If I do it, I use canned mackerel cause it is the cheapest canned fish. I don't feed it every day but more than 2/3 of a sardine every 2 or 3 days. I don't really get that precise. I just supplement some.
Sorry I can't be more scientific than that.
Basically, if you are primarily feeding a 16% layer feed and you add some animal protein, they are getting more of the essential amino acids they wouldn't necessarily get with a slightly higher protein feed since that is a crude protein number.
Specifically the amino acids of arginine and methionine are essential for feather growth.
Sardines have a good arginine content.
 

IowaChickChick

Chirping
Mar 26, 2018
26
28
64
We add protein to their diet and add an electrolyte solution to their water. Also watch for picking while they are losing feathers and new ones are coming in.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
Jul 26, 2016
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Connecticut, USA
My 31 month old Golden Comets just went through molt. They were fed a Non-Medicated Start and Grow feed,18% during molt.
The only daily treats I give them are Scratch Grains as a mid-morning treat Scattered in their pen.
I feed a All-Flock/Flock Raiser feed 20% or a Non-Medicated Starter Grower 18%, year round, whichever is fresher when I'm at the store.
Any feed with 18/20% Protein with limited low Protein treats such as veggies and Scratch grains will help get them through molt. GC
 
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HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
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I give mine chick starter (20% protein). It's almost a powder, so I mix it with water into a thick paste, and they absolutely love it. Dry cat food is sometimes close to 40% protein, so I provide a little of that as well. Not all of my chickens like it, though.
 

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