Molting

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ann1948, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. Ann1948

    Ann1948 Out Of The Brooder

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    My chicks have been molting and not laying for several weeks now. Last molt, I bought some game feed to up their protein intake and it seemed to help. This time, they are eating very little of their pellets, either regular laying feed or game. They do free range in their run and are out in the back yard a couple hrs. each day. This is their first big molt. Should I be worried that they are off of their food? Is this normal? Thanks for all the welcomes! You guys are great!1
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My guess is that they are eating what they need. I would check their crops to see if they are full when they go to roost. Being in the run all day they have probably eaten everything in it way back when, unless you have a portable one. The couple of hours they are in the backyard and truly free ranging is when they may be filling up.
     
  3. Ann1948

    Ann1948 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, Den! I appreciate the advice because I am not experienced with chickens. Can you tell me the process for checking and dealing with problems with the crops.
     
  4. Roan

    Roan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1. Do you know what the crop is? It's sort of like a stomach but it sits in front of the neck. If you feel it, it should feel nice and round. As long as it is, they are getting all the feed they need in a day.
    2. I'm not sure why you would have to take them off of the laying pellets while they're molting. The pellets are mixed to give them all of the protein they need. When a hen goes through her molt, it is normal for her not to lay because it takes roughly the same amount of protein to grow the new feathers as it does to grow new eggs so they must make a trade off. Even if you feed them higher protein during the molt, their bodies can only process so much per day.
    3. As Den said, chances are, if you have a permanent run, they have already stripped it clean by now. The only purpose it serves at this point is letting them literally stretch their wings and get exercise.
    4. Free ranging is by far the most beneficial option between runs and ranging because they have plenty of space to forage and exercise without stripping the area clean (provided there is enough space in your backyard for them.)
    5. Welcome to BYC!!! [​IMG]
     
  5. Ann1948

    Ann1948 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the welcome. I know where the crop is and have read about impaction, ect. I did not take them off their laying feed, just mixed it with the higher protein game bird feed. There is of course so much info on the web that it can be confusing. That's why I am happy to talk with experienced chicken people like yourselves. It's just so unusual for them not to eat their feed constantly.
     
  6. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could also be that the game bird feed you are giving them is a higher value feed, meets their needs in a lesser amount of feed. So they will need to eat less. If they are acting normal normal I wouldn't worry to much.
     
  7. Roan

    Roan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since putting them on this higher protein diet, have they begun to lay again?

    How much protein were they getting before and how much are they getting now?
     
  8. Ila88

    Ila88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is there anything special I should be doing while my girls are molting?
     
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    I mean no disrespect but the crop is not a stomach nor is it sort of like a stomach.
    The crop is a enlarged area of the esophagus and serves as a holding chamber.


    The reason why it is a good practice to take hens off layer feed when in molt is that most layer feed is low in protein and high in calcium.
    High amounts of calcium can be bad and damaging for any non-laying fowl and that includes chicks, growing fowl, rooster, and non-laying hens do to age, health, molt, or invigorant.


    Game bird feeds tend to be a over all better feed than a regular chicken feed in a number of ways, but in this case the higher protein, vitamins and mineral found in the game bird feed helps with the growth of new feathers with out the hen stressing too much and or sacrificing body condition.
    It will take the average laying hen far more protein to produce feathers than to lay a egg, the average egg is somewhere around 13% protein where as the average feather is somewhere around 85% protein.

    I myself feed nothing less than a 20% protein feed from chick to death and when my birds hit a molt there on a higher protein feed (+/- 25%) and that contains animal proteins and fats.

     
  10. Ann1948

    Ann1948 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the valuable input. The chicks are starting to look better so they must be getting what they need even though still aren't eating a lot of pellets. This is definitely a learning process!
     

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