Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Chooks Are Going Bald!

It's Moulting Time in Australian Chicken Yards:

Chickens need to replace their feathers each year and sometimes they can go a bit overboard!
Excessive moulting can be due to a protein or vitamin deficiency (or a prolonged heatwave like we've just had is SA) but moulting is normal and they won't lay again until they've grown all their feathers back.

As all the energy from their food is going to make new feather growth and they stop laying eggs during this time, it's important to feed them well even though they aren't giving you any eggs.
I know someone who gets rid of their chooks each year when they moult because they make her garden untidy with all those feathers blowing around. rolleyes

Juliette de Bairacli Levy in her book The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable suggests the following herbs as a tonic for plumage growth feeding:
Dill, Anise and Fennel plus Seaweed, Nettles, Cleavers and all the Onion family including Garlic.
She has some suggestions for brews to rub on to the chooks also featuring Rosemary, vinegar and Southernwood!

Alanna Moore also lists these herbs as tonics for feather growth.
In her book Backyard Poultry - Naturally Alanna suggests the brew of Rosemary (or Southernwood) plus Vinegar (cider vinegar is good) can be added to the chooks drinking water on a weekly basis.
That sounds easier than applying it externally. wink

Keep up their feed with plenty of protein (meatmeal, cooked soya or fishmeal in their mash), sunflower seeds but not too much corn. Include lots of healthy greens and a good supply of calcium.

Alanna's recipe for a good tonic for moulting hens is Linseed:
1 cup simmered in 1 litre of water for 20mins until it forms a jelly and give each chook a dessertspoonful of this jelly with a wet mash.
Make sure you cook the linseed though and don't give them too much. eek

Look after your girls during this time, keep them warm if it's suddenly gone cold, keep them dry and feed them well...soon they be back to themselves with a whole new outfit of beautiful new feathers.

For further posts on feeding chooks:
Chook Mash here
Chook Forage/Fodder Plants here
Chook Sprouts here


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