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During the first molting chickens shed feathers around the chicken coop in an amountwhich suggests that a predator has been there. Some birds molt almost completely at once, while others show signs of moulting that are barely noticeable. Usually, the first change of plumage occurs in chickens in autumn at the age of about 18 months and proceeds faster than subsequent molts. This is an absolutely normal process and there is no cause for concern - autumn molt indicates that chickens are preparing for winter.
Chickens fluff up feathering when it gets cold. In this way, they try to keep the air warmed by the body between the surface of the skin and the feathers - this creates a kind of buffer to protect against the cold. If the feathers are old, broken or dirty, the birds cannot fluff them well, therefore a molt before the winter itself is a guarantee that the chickens will not freeze due to the new plumage.
Chicken feathers consist of about 90% protein( they are actually formed from keratin - the same protein fibers that make up other animals' hair, claws and hooves), 8% water, and the rest is water-insoluble fats..Therefore, adding small portions of protein to the diet of chickens during the season of molting, you will help them grow new feathers in order to prepare for the winter cold more quickly.
As a rule, chickens get the required amount of protein from high-quality, balanced feed for laying hens, as well as additional feed that birds usually find themselves - bugs, worms, slugs, grasshoppers, birds, and birds.frogsIn addition, there are many high-protein plants that can be given to chickens as treats all year round, but it is especially useful to do this during autumn molting.
In the season of plumage, a small amount of natural delicacy rich in protein will be very useful for chickens, although some are advised to switch to special foods with a high protein content during this period.
Remember that the number of treats should be limited - no more than 10% of the total diet.
Here is a list of 10 rich protein sources that I use as a useful treat for chickens during the molting period.
Boiled eggs are an extremely rich source of protein, and chickens love them a lot. You can, of course, give the birds and raw eggs, but this can lead to unforeseen consequences, so I still advise to boil the eggs for safety.
Boiled chicken or turkey meat also contains high amounts of protein. You can even give the birds the whole carcass - in the case of chickens, you can not worry that they choke on crushed bones, as often happens with dogs or cats. You can also treat chickens with offal that remained from the turkey after the holiday.
Chickens can be given pieces of beef, lamb, pork or bones with meat, as well as offal. Meat can be used raw or cooked. In the end, they eat raw meat when they manage to catch small birds or mice.
Fish in any form - raw, boiled or canned - is a rich source of protein needed for chickens during shedding. You can give them a whole fish - along with your head, giblets and bones. Chickens are very fond of fish! Canned tuna or mackerel is also a healthy protein delicacy.
Shell, the meat and the insides of lobster, shrimp, crayfish - raw or cooked.
Dried flour worms - one of the best sources of complete protein. Chickens from them just crazy! If you have the desire, you can grow meal worms at home.
Nuts and Seeds
Seeds are another rich source of protein. Fresh or dried pumpkin seeds, peeled or in-shell sunflower seeds are great options for chickens. As a treat, you can also use chopped nuts - almonds, peanuts, walnuts. Only in no case give the hens salted seeds or nuts.
Oats can be fed to the chickens in raw or cooked form as a natural protein supplement, which the birds really like. Whole oats and oatmeal are also useful.
Germinated grains and legumes - one of the most favorite treats in chickens, which contains a lot of full-fledged proteins. Beans, peas, lentils - an excellent choice. Growing seedlings is an easy and reliable way to provide chickens with an additional source of protein.
Feed that is usually fed to chickens during the first eight weeks of life contains much more protein than feed for laying hens. I would not completely replace the diet of adult hens or hens, even during shedding. In my opinion, the best option is to add portions from an incomplete package of feed for chickens( which you probably left) to the usual feed of molting chickens, or to mix it with feed for layers.
Now you know about some rich sources of beneficial protein for chickens during the molting period. Do not panic when you see feathers everywhere, but simply feed the birds regularly with protein supplements.
One more note: I heard that some recommend giving cat food to chickens during moulting because there is a lot of protein in it. Personally, I do not advise doing this. Cat food is designed for cats, not for chickens. Better buy your birds a few cans of sardines or other canned fish - it will not only be healthier, but also cheaper!