Poultry Problems: Why Are My Birds Moulting?Print
Do you know what autumn leaves and poultry feathers have in common?
They both tend to shed in fall.
Is this some kind of a joke? Nope, this is just an interesting fact about nature.
You might be wondering why you have an extra amount of fallen feathers around the coop. Are we right?
Biologically speaking it is called moulting but you may hear others refer to it as:
What Is Moulting?
You may have figured it out already; moulting is a natural process that causes birds to lose their feathers. You see the reason behind this strange process lies in the fact that feathers are essentially ‘dead structures.’
Due to this they do not grow back or heal when they get damaged. And every poultry breeder knows how many times that happen with these restless creatures.
So what do we do? We do nothing because nature heals the bird itself.
The whole moulting mechanism is a way to replace the dull, damaged feathers with new healthier ones. This happens during the autumn season because the change in temperature signals the bird’s body to get its protection on.
In a way, the fresh plumage is the hen’s way to get ready for the bitter winters ahead.
When Does Your Flock Moult?
Each bird has a different time schedule or cycle. That is why you will not see all of your flock moulting at the same time. The birds are likely to start the moulting period during the start of autumn but some may not moult until winter begins.
This moulting period lasts for 2-4 months. It usually occurs in the chickens that are 12- 18 months old.
Other facts about moulting are as follows:
- Moulting is a hormonal change in the body
- Hens stop laying eggs during this phase
- They may not lose all their feathers at the same time
The Problem: Why You Should Be Worried?
Seeing bald hens run about the barn is not a pretty sight. More importantly, they are easy targets to the rest of the flock, as the exposed skin appears to be very peck-able.
Another thing that you should be concerned about is the bird’s nutrition. Since feathers are made of keratin (protein) their loss has a drastic effect in the bird’s health. Therefore, you should make sure that their diet is rich in protein.
Furthermore, these bald birds are vulnerable to the elements and especially to the blood-sucking pesky parasites. This is why you need to be extra protective of your flock at this time if you wish to keep them out of harm’s way.
Isn’t It Better to Stop the Moulting?
Your birds get stronger, resist chilly weathers better and lay eggs faster after they moult. That is why hindering this process just to ease your pain is a fatal mistake.
Instead of conspiring against nature, you should try to help the flock out. Keep them healthy, nourished, and protected from the elements. Little Fields Farm has a lot of poultry products that will help you do just that.