How long is the moulting process? It takes 9 weeks to produce a new feather. The moult can be as short as 2 months if the chickens are stimulated back into production. If not they’ll molt, replace the feathers, and wait for the longer days in spring.
What I notice during molts is they seem to look more unkept and the feathers are not as sleek. Some say the shorter daylight hours stimulates a molt but most of my hens normally start at this time of year, late August or early September. They are normally done before the cooler weather arrives.
As my hens start the molting process I try to help them along by adding additional nutrients to help the process. Feathers are almost pure protein, so when they molt a protein boost helps a lot. Some resources I have read recommend feeding cat food, which is high in protein. If you are like me and don’t have a cat, you can feed them Chick Starter that has more protein than Layer feed, along with Oyster Shells for the calcium. Other food items that are high in protein are eggs, cheese, yogurt, and meat.
Occasionally I mix up a paste mix made with yogurt for the hens. Here is the recipe I use which helps their digestive system:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
A small amount of fruit like strawberries, grapes, peaches, etc.
Mix all this together into a paste. After a couple of hours remove any uneaten portion (normally it is always gone).
Yogurt is very good for them. Plain is the best but the benefit of the culture to get their digestive systems back in line is worth the offset with the little sugar that’s in the flavored.
Do you have a recipe to help your chickens get through the molting process? If so share in the comments. Let’s help each other raise healthy, happy chickens!