Molting, what to feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by annampet, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. annampet

    annampet Songster

    Jul 2, 2018
    NE Michigan
    We have 7 chickens. 1 hen, 6 pullers. Our hen is molting for the first time. Should I switch the whole flock to a feather fixer type feed or just stick with something like a 20% protein grower feed with oyster shell on the side?

    thanks wise chicken people of the internet! Lol
    NHMountainMan, Sequel and ValerieJ like this.
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    This works for me...I feed daily scratch to bring the protein to about 17-18%
  3. CountryChic63

    CountryChic63 Chirping

    Aug 16, 2018
    My hens are molting for the first time as fully grown hens (15 months old). My Black Star is molting severely, pretty naked. I found blood on the perch, so I looked the hens over, and assumed it was from her. I'm guessing she's getting pecked since she has so much pink/red skin showing. I watch them a lot during the day, feeding them worms or scratch, they don't seem to peck her then, other than the bossy ones that peck lightly to move the flock around. What I'm worried about it that she doesn't have a vigorous appetite like the others, she nibbles a little but mostly stands to the side.
    I've seen pictures of hens molting, and yes she looks horrible, but the lack of eating bothers me -- is this normal?
    Side note, since the hens are molting, I've added black sunflower seeds, worms or cook up protein from the kitchen and give them a little daily, plus their Layer feed they have at all times. Also, I read NOT to pick the hens up while they are molting, otherwise I would try to apply the blue dye on Black Star.
    NHMountainMan, Sequel and Shadrach like this.
  4. kerbotx

    kerbotx Songster

    Aug 29, 2016
    Northeast Texas
    Blue Kote is available in an aerosol spray; you can spray it on after she goes on the roost at night.

    Avoidance is common during a hard molt - it could be that she doesn't want to risk brushing up against anybody while the pin feathers are present - but eating less is worrisome. Can you separate her just long enough to feed her a good treat? Boiled or scrambled eggs, if she likes them - whatever else she likes, really, just to keep her eating. I can't wait until the molt is over! :)
    NHMountainMan and Sequel like this.
  5. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    I don't know exactly how common the change in food preference is for moulting hens but most of the hens here do exactly that.
    The chickens here free range and when one of the hens has a hard moult, they go off the commercial feed and forage for particular roots and bugs.
    I found it a bit concerning and still do with some hens.
    A few others here on BYC have noticed this behaviour in their hens and commented on it.
    This behaviour could be partly explained by the reasons @kerbotx puts forward.
    I think there is more to it than the avoidance of physical contact. Looking at hard moulting hens on their roosts here at night I would expect to see the moulting hen perch as far from another as possible, but that isn't what happens here.
    Next, unless you have a hen or rooster deliberately guarding the feed and preventing the moulting hen from eating, then I would expect the moulting hen to do the same as pullets do and hang back until the others has eaten.
    I've tried feeding such hens away from their groups and while they will eat a small amount it is apparent that they are not keen.
    If I offer such a hen a treat food, they take it.
    For me, given the chickens are free range there is an added and more dangerous factor and that is the hard moulting hens leave their group when foraging for whatever they feel they aren't getting from the commercial feed. This means on their foraging trips they are unprotected by the flock.
    NHMountainMan, Sequel and ariri30 like this.
  6. SW31

    SW31 Songster

    I up the protein with cheese or minced beef, when it’s on special offer I stock up. I think they need much more protein to grow their new feathers. As they don’t lay when they moult I try to help the regrowth along to get them back laying.
    NHMountainMan and Sequel like this.
  7. getaclue

    getaclue Enabler

    Jun 19, 2013
    Central Florida
    Up the protein a bit, and keep oyster shell on the side. Animal protein is very beneficial at this time too. I like to give a little canned mackerel, and canned cat food during this time.
  8. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

    Feb 19, 2017
    Charlotte, NC
    I feed 20% non medicated starter grower all the time, with oyster shell in a separate container. I have pullets(8 months old) plus 2 and 3 year old hens. I've not had any hard molts and they recover pretty quick. I don't give anything else, to up the protein more.
    NHMountainMan, Sequel and annampet like this.
  9. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2014
    N. California
    I have several hens going through hard molts right now, so I've upped the meal worms and added in a little tuna fish.

    Over the years, I seen a few hens that really seem to suffer during a hard molt. They self-isolate, sleep on the coop floor and lose appetite. So far, everyone has bounced back and returned to normal once the new feathers start coming in.
    NHMountainMan and Sequel like this.
  10. NHMountainMan likes this.

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