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Healthy, high-protein snacks can help support your flock during molting season! Here are 10 healthy snack ideas for your flock!
Kylie Vaughn Every year, as summer fades into fall, my yard and chicken coops are littered with feathers. Soon enough, I started noticing silly looking bald spots on my chicken! Fortunately, this is a completely natural process that happens to chickens every year, called molting.
What is molting?
During the molting season, chickens lose their feathers and regrow new ones. Because feathers are high in protein, our chickens use a lot of protein to rebuild their beautiful plumage. Because of this, egg production often decreases or stops all together during this time.
Coloring generally begins in late summer or fall, when daylight hours begin to shorten. It can last anywhere from one to four months, depending on your chicken’s breed, genetics, and unique health.
During the molting season, it is important to keep the chickens as healthy as possible. Health checks should be performed on a regular basis to check for mites and other health concerns. Try to reduce stressors, such as introducing new chickens, during this time of year.
And of course, fresh water and a healthy diet are crucial to keeping your chickens healthy all year round! During molting season though, you can spoil your chickens with some extra healthy snacks to help support them as they grow their new feathers! Snacks rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins will help your flock get back looking and looking their best!
10 high-protein snacks to feed your chickens during molting season
Cooked eggs are one of the best and highest protein snacks you can give your chickens. It is important to cook eggs before feeding them to chickens to discourage egg-eating habits in your flock. It’s easy to cook scrambled eggs and feed the chickens. Or, you can hard-boil a batch of eggs, let them cool, crack the shells, and then feed the eggs and the shell pieces to the chicken. Shells are a great source of calcium!
Yes chicken can And will Eat chicken! In fact, they love to eat cooked chicken! If you cook chicken for dinner, you can give the chicken bones and offal. They will pick up all the leftover scraps and skins of meat from the bones. Be sure to pick up the bones as soon as the chicks have finished eating to prevent attracting predators!
Fish is another healthy meat that chickens will love! Both fresh raw fish and cooked fish make chicken snacks rich in protein. In addition, fish is also high in healthy omega-3 oils! Some chickens love fish so much that they will catch minnows and other small fish from streams and ponds if given the chance! If you don’t have access to fresh fish or if you don’t eat fish regularly, a can of sardines or tuna will make your chicken absolutely happy!
Similar to fish, chickens will also enjoy shellfish snacks during molting season. If you have shrimp, lobster, or lobster for dinner, save the snails and droppings for your chicken. They will also enjoy the meat – if you feel like sharing!
Nuts and seeds make an easy and healthy treat for your chickens. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, shelled or shelled, are easy to get and your chickens will love them! Black oil sunflower seeds are particularly rich in healthy linoleum oil. Sprinkle seeds on top of chicken feed, or feed a pumpkin head or sunflower for an extra fun snack!
Organs and offal
While organ meats may not be a popular snack for people, your chicken will be very excited about it! If you butcher your own meat, or if you know someone who does, consider using organ meats and offal as a healthy snack for your chicken. You can feed leftover meat and organs to your chickens either cooked or raw (as long as the long raw scraps are fresh and handled properly).
Kelp is an excellent supplement for your chickens, whether during molting season or throughout the year! It is high in protein and also rich in essential vitamins and minerals to help promote the overall health of your flock. You can buy dried kelp supplement and add it at 1-2% to regular dry feed for chickens.
Chickens eat a lot of disgusting things (like bugs!) that can be good for your garden! If you’re able to let your chickens run around in your garden for a bit, they’ll find all kinds of tasty snacks – like grasshoppers, pill bugs, earwigs, crickets, worms, and caterpillars! If your chickens don’t have access to fresh bugs, you can purchase freeze-dried bugs and mealworms instead.
Sprouting beans and legumes is a great way to give your chicken more protein. In addition, the sprouting process makes the nutrients and minerals more bioavailable so they are easier for chickens to absorb. Beans and legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils) can be easily germinated in just a couple of days!
Chick or broiler feed
Most commercial layer feeds contain about 16% protein content. During the molting season, it may be beneficial to increase the amount of protein that chickens receive in their feed. You can do this by mixing chick feed or broiler feed (which contains about 18-20% protein) into the feed layer or by serving it as a separate snack throughout the molting season.
What are your favorite protein-rich chicken snacks to feed your flock?
Kylie Vaughn It is a house in the suburbs, taking care of chickens and goats and a large garden on just under an acre. She and her family strive to create the most efficient home possible in the small space we have. Not only are their chickens a beautiful decoration in the yard, but they are also a vital part of housekeeping practices! “We use them for manure production, pest control, composting, and more.” Kaylee called them “gardeners” because they’re always in the garden, working hard — and redecorating sometimes, too! You can follow Kaylee through it website.
Originally published in Community chicken Website 2019.