When Can Chicks Go Outside?

when can chicks go outsideOne of the top questions I am asked is when can chicks go outside. The need for warmth is key to a growing chick. The growing period is important and making adjustments at the right time is crucial to their future health and well being. The answer really depends on providing warmth, safety, food and water, where ever you house the brooder.

The first weeks of life you are dealing with rather fragile beings. They require a very warm environment. Even if you have a shed, garage or coop with electric, the heat source will be needed 24/7. As the chicks grow, you will see them venture away from the heat source more and more. The chick’s downy covering will give way to new feathers. You can start to reduce the heat level gradually. Starting with the brooder near 100 degrees F, gradually reduce the heat by 5 degrees each week.

As the chicks grow, it is ok to take them outside for a short time, for a play time. I recommend keeping it to 15 minutes or less, and provide a secure enclosure so you don’t lose a wandering, brave chick! 

when can chicks go outside

If the chicks are mostly feathered and the weather is warm enough at night, you can gradually begin to wean them from the heat. This won’t happen for the first few weeks of life, however. Chilling is one of the leading causes of chick death. Once a chick gets chilled, it is hard to bring them back. The first few days are critical in giving your new chicks the best start. 

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Go Outside?

As the chicks begin to grow, the mess becomes messier. You may begin to wonder if they will do just as well, outside of the brooder,and in the coop.Let me encourage you to wait as long as possible before doing this. Not only can the chicks become chilled and suffer illness from being moved too early, but you set them up to become ill from bacteria and parasites.

Chicks are growing rapidly and need free access to food and water. Moving them to a coop situation where they will come in contact with staphylococcus , e-coli, coccidia, and Mareks disease is risky. Chicks need good nutrition, and time to build a strong immune system before being moved outside.

when can chicks go outside

I hedge a little on my answer, because each breed feathers out at a slightly different rate. And each area of the world has different weather patterns. Sometime between 4 and 6 weeks of age, depending on the weather, the chicks may be able to begin living in the coop. There is nothing to be gained by rushing the chicks from the brooder environment into the coop. 

Some people are successful with leaving the chicks in the coop and run during the warmer daytime, and bringing them into the garage or home at night. The answer to when can chicks go outside is a variable situation!

This does not mean that the chicks are ready to be integrated with the big chickens. You will want to take that slow and easy, when they are a little bigger.

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Join the Flock

If you watch a mother hen take care of her babies you will see that she protects them from other flock members. It takes a bold chicken to mess with a mama hen. In the case of chicks raised by humans, we have removed this protective barrier. We must use safe practices to integrate the new young pullets to the flock. Gradual and slow are the terms to keep in mind. 

My usual time line for introducing the new chicks to the flock is around 10 weeks. The chicks must be fully feathered, and on their way to similar size of the chickens they are joining. Adding small bantams to large breed, more aggressive hens is not always going to end well. A sharp hard peck on the head can damage a tiny bantam pullet. In addition, a full size rooster trying to mate with a small bantam pullet can damage or hurt the little one. I have had some bad outcomes from integrating small breeds into large breeds so I don’t recommend it. On the other hand if they are raised together, I  have had no such issues.

when can chicks go outside

When chicks are losing the baby appearance, feather growth has come in, get some sort of enclosure to put them in as they begin to experience the big kids area. I do not recommend just tossing the chicks into the big chicken’s area. Let them both get used to each other through a fence, dog crate, or some other wire enclosure. The chicks will still have their own food and water so they are sure to get plenty to eat and drink. You may need to keep the food and water in the middle of the pen so the big chickens can’t reach in for a snack. 

when can chicks go outside

when can chicks go outside

Fully Integrated Flock

Once the chicks don’t seem to be getting much attention from the flock, through the fence, you can try some short intervals of letting them out. I try to keep an eye on this and I do rescue anyone who seems to be picked on. Placing some hiding spots around the run. One year four of our pullets liked to hide out behind the coop door. I have also leaned a piece of plywood against the fence for a lean-to. A fallen tree limb with leaves can provide cover, too.

when can chicks go outside

Is There a Right Answer?

When can chicks go outside and when can chicks join the flock are important points to consider when raising chickens. I think that the answer depends on a lot of factors. Weather, coop set up, and breeds of chickens, are some of the variables involved. What tips would you add about when can chicks go outside? How did you introduce your chicks to your flock? I’d love to keep the discussion going in the comments.




10 Signs You Have a Broody Hen

How do you handle broody hen season? What is a broody and how do you know you have one? The spring weather brings on the urge to set on eggs and hatch out a clutch of chicks. If the eggs have been fertilized by a rooster, in approximately 21 days from when the hen finishes collecting her eggs and begins to set on the eggs, you will have cute new chicks!

I  specifically bought bantam Cochin chicks, because they are often serious broody hens. We ended up with six hens and 5 roosters, although only one rooster lives with the six hens. First only one hen began broody hen behavior. Before long, all the hens were setting on eggs. Some were co- nesting. Others were sitting on top of other broody hens. It was getting a little crazy in the hen house! 

Signs that you have a Broody Hen

Some of the following symptoms and signs may occur when you have a broody hen. 

  1. Reluctance to get up off the egg or eggs in the nest
  2. Sitting in the nest even when there are no eggs
  3.  Pecking your hand or biting you when you check for eggs underneath her.
  4. Chest and belly feathers are missing.
  5. Comb and wattles are pale
  6. The broody only leaves the nest once or twice a day, and quickly returns after a quick bite and drink
  7. Broody poop. It is unusually large and extremely smelly!
  8. Hen is very flattened out on the nest. I am impressed with how flat a hen can get while covering eggs. When picked up, she may refuse to put her feet down.
  9. Very little food and water are consumed by the brooding hen.
  10.  Broody hen clucks softly to her chicks as they get close to hatch day.

broody hen

It’s fun to watch the broody hen and her intense concentration, as she waits for the big day. Things can get crazy though when you have a few hens trying to hatch eggs and each thinks she should have all the eggs. I noticed that our broody’s eggs were being taken by some or all of the other hens. They were semi broody, but no where as serious as the first. 

broody hen

Moving a Hen to the Nursery or a Private Area

In order to hopefully have a successful hatch, I could see that our first broody of the year would have to be moved away from the other hens. Eggs were being broken, the nests were becoming sticky and dirty, and this was not a good situation for hatching chicks. Many people use a dog crate for a hen to live in while she broods. This is a great idea. There is often enough room in the dog crate for a small water and food of her own. Or you can use a smaller crate and let her out twice a day to get food and water and relieve herself. The crate keeps the eggs safe from other hens and the rooster. It also gives the chicks time to hatch without being attacked by other chickens.

broody hen

If your hen is upset because you moved her away from the flock or put her into a crate for nesting, try making the move when she is asleep. Carefully removing the eggs to the new nest area in the crate, then getting the broody hen and placing her on the eggs. Doing this while it’s dark, may be successful.

After I moved the first broody hen to her own apartment, the other hens settled down to brooding eggs too. They didn’t leave each other alone though. Most days four of the hens would be setting on a communal nest of eggs. At this point, I am letting them co – brood. If egg stealing and breakage starts to occur again, then another crate will be set up. 

broody hens

Nutrition for the Broody Hen

During the brooding time period, your hen won’t eat as much food as usual. This fact makes it even more important that she eat a quality chicken food. Supplement with tasty treats to encourage her to take some food. A soft scrambled egg, grubs and meal worms, chickweed from the garden, are all interesting tasty treats. You want to do what you can to keep the hen in good condition. 

What About When a Broody is a Bad Mother Hen?

I wasn’t quite prepared for what was happening in another coop this spring. The hens were broody and not a breed known for broody behavior. But three hens were serious and kept setting. They would set on one egg, three eggs, no eggs, and kept jumping from one nest to another. They proved challenging and would not nest in a lower location. All three insisted on brooding in the highest nest boxes. I wasn’t sure how that would work out once the chicks hatched.

It turned out that not only were these hens making questionable choices in nesting locations, they also chose to leave the newly hatched chicks behind, leave the nest and go set on a different nest box of eggs. Luckily we check our coops a few times a day and the chicks were found and taken to a brooder. I didn’t expect this behavior from a broody hen!

chicks held in hand

Broodiness Interrupts Egg Production and Collection

Even hens that do not have a rooster in the flock can go broody. The only problem is, if the eggs aren’t fertilized, they won’t develop. If you want to hatch chicks under a broody and you don’t have a rooster, you can order hatching eggs from someone who does.

Broody hens don’t lay eggs, and they may discourage other hens from using the nests, or even coming into the coop. Some broody hens are quite mean when they set on eggs. The disruption can leave you with less eggs than you normally collect every day. Also, the broody moms would collect all the new eggs every day leaving us with no eggs!

Broody hen

Here’s how I worked around this problem. One day I decided to mark all the eggs that were being set at that point. Each had a mark put on them using a sharpie marker. Any other eggs that did not have the mark, were new and could be collected. We aren’t collecting as many eggs as before brooding began, but at least we can pick up the new eggs each day.

hatching eggs

For some, not getting as many eggs is an issue. It’s ok if you choose to not have your hen brood.  In the past, I have chosen to break my broody hens of the urge, instead of letting them set on eggs. We needed eggs more than we needed new chicks at that time. 

Enjoy!

momma hen with chicks

Brooding chicks from your own flock is an interesting and exciting adventure. Watching the hen teach the new babies how to find food and drink, and then cuddle under her wings to warm up, is very sweet reward for taking good care of the broody momma. Many would argue that this is the best part of chicken farming!

broody hen




How Much Food Does a Chicken Need

I had a reader ask me recently,” how much food does a chicken need to eat per day “. This is a very valid question and it will differ depending on where you get your information. For instance, if she had asked a meat bird facility manager, he would be able to tell her how much each chicken is fed almost to the exact gram. A commercial egg producer, likewise, will probably be able to tell you a precise amount of feed that is given to each hen per day. Commercial chicken facilities need to optimize the cost/production ratio. But in the case of a small backyard flock of chickens, the answer gets a bit muddy. Let me explain.

How Much Food Does a Chicken Need

How Much Food Does a Chicken Need to Eat?

hens at Timber Creek Farm

Many factors go into the amount of chicken feed needed per day for a back yard flock. While you may be interested in raising chickens and receiving fresh backyard eggs as economically as possible, you probably also realize that this is not your primary concern. For the backyard chicken flock of lets say, six hens, you are also not looking to make a profit on selling eggs. While it will be nice to sell a few cartons of eggs a year to neighbors and co-workers, it will not keep you in the black on chicken keeping. In my opinion,the best you can hope for is to break even on a small flock.

How Much Food Does a Chicken Need

Use Enough Food Bowls or Feeders

I recommend feeding chickens free choice with as many bowls or feeders as necessary to ensure that all the chickens can freely eat without being bullied or chased away from the food by a flock leader. For our example flock of six chickens, I would recommend two feeders or bowls for the full grown hens. At the end of the day, as the chickens go in to roost, notice how much feed is left in the feeders or bowls. Adjust the next days feed accordingly. I noticed that mine eat more in the cold weather in order to stay warm. They also seem to eat less on rainy days, but this makes no sense to me so it may not really be a factor. (don’t miss this cute video on feeding your flock!)

Decrease Waste

It is a mistake to not provide enough feed for your flock. Chickens eat from sun up to sun down. I notice that our flock eats a lot first thing out of the coop, and again, right before heading into the coop for the night. Feeding too much scratch grain can be detrimental because the chickens will choose that over the more nutrient dense ration. I tend to still lean towards over feeding the crumble ration, instead of guessing exactly how much the chickens will need.

We use wide shallow bowls for feeding, which also means we lose some feed everyday to “billing out”. Billing out is when the chickens scoop feed out and leave it on the ground. Also, the chickens will scratch through it with their feet and kick some feed out of the bowl. Using a hanging feeder may help with this problem and keep feed waste to a minimum. Some people feel there is less waste when feeding a pellet ration instead of crumbles or mash. I am not sure I see much of a difference between the two myself, so I just feed what my chickens seem to like better.

How Much Food Does a Chicken Need

Are Certain Chicken Breeds Better on Food Economy?

The breed of chickens you have might have some bearing on how much feed they need to consume. This is a good topic to research when choosing the breeds for your backyard flock. Some breeds are good at foraging for food. Leghorns, Buckeyes, and Ameraucanas are a few breeds known to be good at foraging. Mixing your flock with good foragers will help keep food costs to a minimum.

 flock of chickens at Timber Creek Farm

How do we get a ball park figure on how much it will cost per week to feed this flock of six chickens? A well known ballpark figure for estimating purpose is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Keep in mind that this is a ballpark figure. I think I feed a little more than this amount. Most feed is sold in a fifty pound sack.

For estimating purpose, I am using $16 per 50 pound bag, as this is an average for my area for natural chicken feed. If you plan to feed organic feed, the cost in my area (east coast) will be double that. There are cheaper options on feed, but I advise you to read the labels carefully and ask questions if you don’t recognize an ingredient or question it’s being included in the feed. Soy free options exist but will cost a bit more and are harder to locate in some areas. Organic feed is available, too, such as Manna Pro and Scratch and Peck. Larger feed manufacturers are rolling out new organic versions of layer feed, too. 

How Much food Does A Chicken Need

So just how much food does a chicken need?

Using numbers and recommended feeding amounts from a traditional layer ration, the following graphic breaks down how much a full grown hen requires.

how much food does a chicken need

how much food does a chicken need

Using an Organic Premium Layer Blend

When we switched our flock to premium organic feeds a few years ago, some notable changes occurred. I had previously fed a ration sold on the shelf at many feed stores. Switching was a difficult choice because I like to support local business. However our feed store did not carry any of the brands I was interested in trying.

Knowing how much feed a chicken needs based on what we previously fed, I started feeding the flock the new food. The food was gradually introduced so as to not upset their digestive systems.

Once we had transitioned to the organic whole grain feed, I noticed that there was quite a bit left at the end of the day. I started to reduce the amount we fed, keeping a close eye out that they had feed available until time to roost. Of course I did not want to waste any premium feed!

How Much Organic Feed Does a Chicken Need

Over time, our food bill for the chickens was reduced by a third. The bowls were fairly cleaned out by roost time. Even more important, the flock looked fluffy and healthy! There feathers glistened, and their was very little poopy butt. Conclusion: It appears that as with humans, chickens are as healthy as the feed they eat.

One other note, our older hens that live a retirement life of leisure, are living longer! They are healthy and active and occasionally grace us with an egg. And since the chicken require less feed, it doesn’t cost me more to provide them a premium organic chicken feed.

Supplement With Free Weeds and Wild Herbs

chickeweed for chicken supplements
Chickweed and other common plants thought of as weeds can be great sources of free nutrition for you flock, as long as you don’t use chemical weed killers and fertilizer on your lawn.

How Much Feed does a Chicken Need with Free Choice Feeding

how much food does a chicken need

My method of free choice feeding involves four feed bowls for 25 chickens. I give them feed in the morning, along with leftover veggie scraps. The run is large so they have room to forage for insects. In addition, supplements are offered free choice and also given as treats.

We do free range, but only when we can keep watch. We are in the woods and the risk of predators is great. Before we had the fence around the poultry area, the chickens rarely had a time to free range outside of their run. It worked because the run is large and we provide grass and leaves and weeds for them to peck through.

Since we installed the fencing, the chickens can be out foraging more often. The amount of feed we use each week has dropped by half. I still don’t recommend full free range due to predators. But, even using free ranging part time has had a big effect on our feed bill. 

Grow Fodder to Cut the Feed Bill

A great idea for supplementing your chickens feed is to grow fodder. This is actually sprouted grains and packs a big nutrition punch. Murano Chicken Farm uses fodder to help keep the feed cost down. In my book 50 Do it Yourself Projects for Chickens, I show the process in photos with a description. 

Adjust the amount of feed based on what you see left in the bowls at the end of the day. I want the chickens to have enough to eat both first thing out of the coop and also, to have feed available right before dark. These are the times I witness the most intense eating. In between, food should be available, as chickens will continue to graze all day long.
We do not leave food in the coop while the chickens are sleeping. The feed left in the coop will attract vermin. You do not want to attract these pests, so I highly recommend taking the leftover feed back to the storage area at night.

Use Sprouted or Fermented Grain to Increase Nutritional Benefit of Feed

Sprouting or fermenting the chicken feed is another method of cutting cost by increasing nutrition. The sprouted grain or fermented feed offers an easier to digest form of nutrients. Fermenting increases the nutrients available to be absorbed from the feed. In addition B vitamins, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamin and Niacin levels are increased.

Some things that will help you maximize your feed expense

  • Use a hanging feeder or feeders

  • Decide whether your flock prefers pellets or mash.

  • Choose a breed of chicken that is good at foraging for its food.

  • Do not leave feed out at night for the raccoon, rats, skunks, mice to picnic on.

 timbercreekfarmer.com

The question, how much food does a chicken need, has many variables in the answer. It is possible to be frugal with the chicken feed and yet make sure that your flock gets plenty of nutrition that they need without limiting food intake. While you won’t be looking at the chicken feeding project the same way as a commercial facility, it is possible to keep from wasting feed while raising your happy backyard chickens.

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how much food does a chicken need

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how much food does a chicken need

(This post was reviewed and vetted for accuracy on  March 21, 2019, September 25, 2016 and  Originally published on October 29, 2014)

For more on raising a flock of chickens for eggs:

Attainable Sustainable has a free download guide titled How to Feed Your Chickens for Free

From One Acre Farm 4 Benefits of A Mix Flock of Backyard Chicken

What to feed chicks and using whole grain chick feed.

How much food does a chicken need  Optimize your costs by not over feeding the flock




How to Revive a Weak Chick and Keep it Healthy

Two days into a recent hatch and I had to revive a weak chick and then another! The hatch was sporadic. We had eight broody hens. There was no schedule to the hatch. The eggs were started sporadically and I was out of town. While I was away, new eggs were gathered by the broody hens! It was a bit out of control. One hen out of the eight allowed me to move her to the nursery. The other broody hens had a fit about being moved and so I put them back in the coop where they continued to brood. I continued to try to monitor and save any chicks that hatched, before they were harmed by other flock members. Who said it was easier letting a hen hatch out eggs?

Disclaimer

Before I go any further in my methods of how to revive a weak chick, keep in mind that I am sharing what worked for me. I am not advocating or giving any guarantee that my methods will save your chick’s life. Also, I am a firm believer in thinking outside the box, and using what is available at that moment. My methods might be a little controversial to some who prefer to follow strict guidelines. 

What do Chicks Need After Hatching

If you have a broody hen, she will take care of all the chick’s needs. Broody hens can take care of quite a large brood. Tucked under her wings, the chicks are snug, warm and dry. She encourages them to eat and drink throughout the day, while looking out for their safety. Pasty butt is rare in broody raised chicks because the hen knows what to tell the chicks to eat. 

Chicks raised in a brooder have a bit of a harder road. No matter how closely we observe for problems, issues can arise. Pasty butt, chilled chicks, spilled water, and aggressive chicks can wreak havoc. Most of the time things go well, but there are times we need to intervene. Chicks need warmth, dry bedding, and food and water, that they can easily access. (Read about how much food a chick needs in this post )When a chick’s needs are not met, it experiences stress. Chicks that are stressed by the environment cannot thrive. 

how to revive weak chick

My recently hatched chicks were a few days behind the other three. The broody hen wanted no part of adopting the last hatchlings. So into the brooder they went. I use the warming table style heaters. All the chicks had access to water and food, with clean bedding. But  the last two chicks that hatched, weren’t strong. They stopped eating and drinking within 24 hours of hatching. I needed to try something or they would die.

revive a weak chick

First step 

Always make sure the chick is warm before trying to give food or water. I held the chick in my one hand while completing chores with the other. Next, I tried some Nutra-drench product for poultry because I had it available in the barn. I mixed it in a bit of water and used a syringe to let drops fall on the tip of the beak. The chick was interested and started to open it’s beak for the water. If you do this, also make sure the chick isn’t getting wet from the drips. 

As I was feeding the barn cats I had an idea. By now the chick was looking really weak despite the water. The bits of canned cat food looked like something I could try to feed the chick. At first the chick wouldn’t open it’s beak for the food. Then it took a bite. And another! Then it took a big bite. I gave it a few minutes to settle. I continued to give bits of wet cat food and after a few minutes more, the chick was struggling to use it’s legs again. It was reviving! The eyes reopened and it chirped. How about that!

revive a weak chick

Other Options to Use When You Revive a Weak Chick

Now, as I said in the disclaimer, this is a last ditch effort. I don’t think chicks should routinely be fed cat food products. Cat food is high in protein, and the canned food is high in water. Both of these were good for the chick short term. If I hadn’t acted quickly, I am not sure that this chick would have lasted while I prepared something else or If I had driven to a store. A good reason to have some ideas on hand, in the barn or feed shed. 

More Ideas to Revive a Weak Chick

Warmed plain yogurt

Scrambled egg

Hard boiled egg chopped tiny

Molasses water – Molasses also contains other nutrients 

Make a mash or tea of fresh herbs that contain Vitamin E such as Parsley, Oregano, Sage, and Thyme

Sugar water *use very short term. Too much sugar can lead to pasty butt

Nutra-drench product

Poly-visol infant vitamin drops without iron –*This also helps with wry neck which is a result of Vitamin E deficiency. You can read more on Wry Neck syndrome here.

The important thing is to get some nutrition into them and get them over the hard part. After 24 to 48 hours your chicks should be back on chick feed and able to cope. You may need to assess when to return them to the brooder with the other chicks. 

What Do Chicks Need to Thrive?

In the best case scenario, a small number of chicks arrive and are transferred to a waiting brooder. They stay warm and within a short time, find food and water. The weaker ones learn from the bolder stronger chicks and all do quite well. But sometimes, chicks need some TLC to get past the initial days. They may have become chilled at some point and become too weak to get to the food. They may be not as strong and easily trampled by the other chicks. Once they are knocked down, it may be too much to struggle back up on their feet. 

If possible, raise the weak chick with another non-aggressive chick for company. Chicks all do better with at least one friend in the brooder. 

revive a weak chick

Of course, we all want a good outcome and it is often a matter of timing. Do what you can to observe the chicks and help with some TLC if you see a weak chick. When you revive a weak chick, it is a rewarding feeling. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When situations don’t go as hoped, remember you gave that little chick, the best life it could have, even if it was a short life. I hope these ideas will help you if you have a need to revive a weak chick. Please leave your own remedies and ideas in the comments.

revive a weak chick

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Grubs and Mealworms Can Help with Molting

 

Chickens love grubs and mealworms. Feeding these high protein dried insect treats during molting, increases the protein fed to the flock. Increasing the protein is one of the positive things you can do to help the chickens recover quickly and easily from the hard, seasonal, fall molt. Take a look at some of the facts about molting in chickens and why feeding grubs and mealworms to the birds is so beneficial.

What is Molt in Chickens?

During the seasonal or yearly molt, your chicken will lose a large percentage of her feathers and actually look rather depleted and unwell. Some chickens weather this phenomenon easier than others. Different years can hit the same hen with different strengths of molting.

grubs and mealworms

The first molt a chicken encounters is in their first few months of life. The chickens will go through this “baby” molt and lose the baby feathers, sometime after the first three months. Mostly this molt is seen as piles of downy feathers gathering in the corners of the coop. The chickens don’t look as war torn as their older coop mates, who are going through a full molt. The second molt in your chickens life occurs between 10 to 12 weeks of age. Often called the juvenile molt, the chickens will lose the baby feathers and begin to grow in the first grown up chicken feathers, getting  them ready for winter. At this stage your juvenile chicks are still eating a starter ration, typically higher in protein, so their nutritional needs are being met.

As the days begin to shorten, after the Summer Solstice, the first molt will be triggered in your older chickens. Molting as an adult chicken is necessary as they prepare for winter. Having broken, damaged, dirty and old feathers is not optimal for the cold weather. Healthy feathers are used to keep the chickens warm. Molt typically begins to show on the head and neck and proceed down the sides and back of the chicken. Not all chickens follow the typical pattern or we notice the molting once it has reached the back and sides of the bird. Hens and roosters both have a seasonal molt.

Why does Molting Affect Egg Production 

Feathers and eggs are both high in protein. The chickens cannot keep up with the demand and the egg production will go on standby until the molt and recovery are over. Once the hen has regrown her feathers and is fully able, egg production will begin again. Although, this is often the same time winter and lower egg production due to less daylight. Have no fear. The molt, increased protein and rest period will have your hens laying strongly when spring arrives.

How Can We Help The Chickens Recover 

Before the molt even begins, make sure your chickens are in the best physical condition. If you follow a natural worming protocol, continue with that as the summer winds down. This is not the time for any other stress factor to rear it’s ugly head. Making sure that your flock is receiving the best level of nutrients will keep them in good health during molting.

Feeding increased protein levels during molting can strengthen the recovery and feather growth. This can be easily handled by supplementing the regular layer ration with treats that are high in protein. 

grubs and mealworms

Tasty Grubs to the Rescue!

A delicious and nutritious way to keep the flock happy and increase their protein intake is to feed grubs and mealworms. The folks from Tasty Worms offered me a bag of dehydrated grubs to give to my flock this summer and fall. I can, without a doubt, tell you that the flock appreciates that I said yes to the offer. I have been feeding a treat of Tasty Grubs the last two weeks. Although we are not in full molt yet, a few of the chickens are starting to show feather loss. Not only do the Tasty Grubs smell good, you see from this photo, the chickens went crazy for the taste. 

grubs and mealworms

I was told by TastyGrubs representative that the chickens might need to get used to Tasty Grubs. Not these chickens! They were so excited and dove right into the bowl. I had to pick up the bowl and distribute the worms around the yard to get them to slow down.

I wondered if it was just the fact that Tasty Grubs are a new product for us to give as a treat. The excitement over the Tasty Grubs continued with each time they have the grubs. Meal worms have been a favorite treat for many years. Feeding grubs and mealworms is part of my usual spoiling of the flock. After all, I want my chickens to stay healthy and to know that I bring good things. As we head into molting season, I will be grabbing the grubs and mealworms as I head up the hill to the poultry coops. Even our picky small flock of ducks enjoys the treat of grubs and mealworms on occasion. Ducks molt too!

Grubs and mealworms

The chickens in coop 2 are almost to laying age. They also enjoy a snack of grubs!

Why Choose Tasty Grubs?

Tasty Grubs are the newest product from Tastyworms.com. The guaranteed analysis for Tasty Grubs is Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 36%, Fat 31%, Calcium 4%, Phosphorous .67%, Moisture 9%.

Not only a good source of protein, but Calcium and Phosphorus for health and egg production, too. Made in the USA, and no stabilizers, preservatives or other additives find their way into Tasty Grubs.

Other Ways to Help the Flock During Molt

Don’t handle molting chickens too often. The pin feathers that are growing in are uncomfortable. Chickens actually feel some pain when picked up during molt. Handle the molting chickens only when necessary. 

Stick to the normal routine as much as possible. Switching routines causes stress, as does lack of water, poor nutrition, extreme heat or cold. Broody hens that are also molting are going through a double stressful situation. Often a broody hen will trigger molt just by the lowered food and water intake she has during egg setting.

Reduce or eliminate stress from other sources. If you know that the family dog sniffing around the coop causes an upset, keep the dog away from the coop area. Be extra vigilant against predators at this time of year. Fox and raccoon are hunting, to put on weight for the winter. An attempted attack at this time will lead to an even higher level of anxiety in the coop. 

grubs and mealworms

 A huge benefit of Tasty Grubs, dried black solider fly larvae, compared to others who are trying to produce their own version. They do not  use any manure or garbage to feed our black solider flies. These flies will eat just about anything, as many flies do. Some companies will cut costs and collect food from dumpsters or manure from farms to feed the supply. But not Tasty Grubs! They are feed pre-consumer food residuals (distillers grains, cookie meal) No bovine or ovine ingredients. No stabilizers, preservatives or other additives are added. All natural, dried fly larvae. Sounds almost appetizing doesn’t it? 
 
grubs and mealworms
 
 
Disclaimer
I received no monetary compensation for conducting the taste test review with my flock of chickens. I was given a free bag of Tasty Grubs to use for this purpose. It has been a pleasure to work with the company and I want to say thanks for allowing my flock to experience this yummy treat.

grubs and mealworms

Can feeding grubs and mealworms help your chickens get through a molt faster?

grubs and mealworms

For more information on Molting check this post