Chickens molt at least once every year. Molting is very stressful for chickens and also demands a lot of nutrients. Supplementing your flock’s diet while they are going through a molt can help reduce stress and help them complete a successful molt. I feed my flock these natural supplements for molting during the fall!
Feathers contain 85% protein, 8% water, and 1% water-insoluble fats. I like to provide my flock with more protein rich foods during their molt along with clean, fresh drinking water. I also add supplements to their feed to help give their bodies added nutrients. Here are some supplements that I provide for my flock along with some of my flock’s favorite protein rich snacks!
Herbs- Herbs can be helpful for just about any chicken keeping situation! A few herbs that are beneficial during the molt include, dill, mint, oregano, basil, and parsley. These herbs are high in protein which helps with feather regrowth. I add both fresh and dried herbs to my flock’s feed!
Garlic- Garlic is a nutrient powerhouse and can help provide essential nutrients and vitamins to molting birds! It will also help give the new feathers a glossy shine! I add garlic powder to my chicken’s feed. You can also add a clove of fresh pressed garlic to your chickens water (1 clove per 1 gallon of water).
Kelp- Kelp is truly an amazing supplement! It is chocked full of vitamins and is a great supplement to add year round to your flock’s feed! It especially helps during the molt by providing essential vitamins and helps keep the new feather looking healthy!
Apple Cider Vinegar- Apple cider vinegar promotes healthy gut flora and boosts the immune system. Because molting is so stressful on a bird, it is important to keep their immune systems healthy to prevent them from getting sick. I add apple cider vinegar to my chicken’s water one time a week all year round (1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water).
Garlic- See ‘garlic’ in feed supplements section above.
High Protein Supplements
There are a few things you should keep in mind when feeding your chickens these extra high protein snacks:
- treats should not make up over 10% of a chicken’s diet
- the best time to feed snacks is mid afternoon to evening, after the chicken’s have eaten their fill of regular feed
- all snacks should be fed in moderation- fat chickens don’t lay and could die from excess fat
Dried Mealworms- Dried mealworms are an excellent source of protein to feed during the molt. Mealworms contain 18 grams of protein per serving. My chickens absolutely love mealworms!
Sunflower Seeds- Sunflower seeds contain 29 grams of protein in one cup, making them a great source of protein. You can feed your chickens both shelled and in-the-shell sunflower seeds as long as they are not salted.
Whole Oats and Oat Grouts- Oats are a good source of protein and my flock loves them! They contain 13 grams of protein per serving (100g). I often combine mealworms, sunflower seeds, and oats for a protein rich snack mix for my flock! Making oatmeal during the cooler months will give your chickens something warm to eat and provide them with extra protein.
Pumpkin Seeds- Pumpkin seeds contain 9 grams of protein per serving and also act as a natural dewormer. Make sure the pumpkin seeds are not salted. I like to give my chickens a whole pumpkin and let them work their way to the seeds, eating the rind, flesh, and seeds!
Hemp Seeds- Another seed that I often throw into the protein snack mix is hemp. Hemp seeds contain 31 grams of protein per serving!
Quinoa- Quinoa is another protein-packed supplement containing 24 grams of protein per serving!
Spirulina- By far one of most protein rich foods, spirulina is a great supplement during the fall molt. It is 60% protein which makes it a great choice for molting chickens!
Spinach- Spinach also contains protein but I included it in this list more for it’s Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting which is essential incase a delicate feather follicle gets scrapped open and begins to bleed.
Eggs- Eggs are also a good source of protein. Giving your chickens cooked egg will help keep them from turning into an egg-eater and still provide them with protein.
Peanuts- Peanuts and peanut butter both contain protein but they are also higher in fat than some of the other protein rich foods. Make sure the peanuts or peanut butter is salt free and provide plenty of fresh water when feeding peanut butter. Note- it may be fun to watch your chickens eat peanut butter, but don’t give it to them too often because it can easily make them fat
Meat Sraps- One of my flock’s favorite protein rich snacks are meat scraps. I mostly feed my chickens leftover cooked chicken scraps. They love the skin, meat scraps, gristle, and an occasional very small bone! Check out my post on good and bad table scraps for chickens to find out what other meats your chickens can have!
Your chickens will have a blast feasting on whatever fun, protein snacks you give them! By providing your flock with these extra supplements and increased protein you can help them complete a successful and efficient molt!
To learn more about molting check out my post, Molting 101.