Guide to Molting Chickens in Winter - Treats For Chickens

October 28, 2018

Guide to Molting Chickens in Winter - Treats For Chickens

Photo: Pinterest

Molting chickens is challenging enough but what about when your chickens molt and are losing feathers in winter? It just doesn't seem right - I'm layering on the thickness and warmth and my flock members are dropping feathers.

What the heck, right?

The fact is, this unpleasant situation is a reality for many chicken keepers, so I’m here to guide you through the stress of your chicken molting in winter.

Your chicken losing feathers in winter is a big problem because they need feathers to keep warm during the winter cold. Many chicken keepers don’t artificially heat their coop because of the threat of coop fires and because it negatively impacts your chicken’s ability to acclimate itself to the cold temperatures.

{PS: please do not heat your coop.}

If your chickens don’t get acclimated to the cold temperatures due to an artificial heat source, and the electricity goes out (very common occurrence during winter), your birds will be less able to cope with the cold and are capital S.C.R.E.W.E.D.

Heating a Chicken Coop the Natural Way

Instead of using an artificial heat source, I have two suggestions for natural heat sources. The first is: straw.  The second: chicken butt fluff.  What the heck?  Sounds odd, but let me explain…

Let’s start with talking about how you can use straw to keep your chicken molting in winter, warmer. As we know chickens are pretty darn smart, have great personalities and put themselves to bed at night.

Putting themselves to roost is a great gift from Mother Nature. The farther we get into winter and temperatures dropping, the sooner in the evening the sun sets and your flock turns in for the night. .

As it gets colder, your late molter will spend more time inside your chicken coop roosting {or just hanging out where it's warmer} with the rest of your flock huddling up for warmth.

You can enhance the warmth of your interior coop by adding straw to the floor of the coop to trap body heat, keep the nooks and crannies warm and to aide a bit in boredom busting {chickens love scratching around in straw searching for pebbles, insects and such}. Go ahead and layer on the straw - no need to be stingy.  

 chickens roosting

Photo: Me And My Shadow

Another source of heat for chickens molting in winter is “chicken butts.” That means placing your molting chicken in-between fluffy members of the flock to help your late molter stay warm. Remember that molting chickens are totally uncomfortable, so you want to be gentle when handling and holding them. Instead, grab a couple of your sweeter gals - your fluffy full-feathered hens in your flock and place them around your molting chicken, so your late molter can snuggle with them and stay warmer!


Help your Molting Chicken Grow it’s Feathers Back

 best food for molting chickens

Photo: Dawn feeding her hens the best food for molting chickens
 Molt Mender - check it out by clicking here!


Chickens need energy and protein to grow feathers back, so you'll need to be providing extra goodness while your molting chicken is in a special time of need! Whip out the mealworms, sunflower seeds, meat scraps, and whatever other high energy and high protein chicken treats you have that are healthy for birds!

What NOT to do with Molting Chickens in Winter

As a chicken keeper with a chicken losing feathers in the winter I am going to place a friendly wager that you might have thought about bringing your pet featherless, fowl indoors? I've done it too.

If you are going to bring your molting chicken indoors during the winter months please keep in mind the temperature transition he/she will need to undergo once their feathers are back in place and you've returned to them to the coop.  It's going to take them time to re-acclimate to the sharp winter temperatures of the outdoors.

There's another situation to consider as well: pecking order. The pecking order is going to restructure itself when your "house chicken" is in getting warm and toasty. So, please be conscientious and spend several hours out with the flock when re-introduction day comes around to ensure that your new fluffy gal isn't being bullied.

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