How to Help Chickens Grow Feathers Back

How to Help Chickens Grow Feathers Back: Nutrition & Care

If your chickens have lost feathers, whether it’s due to molting, stress, or injury, there are some things you can do to help them grow their feathers back quickly.

In this article, I’m going to explain the reasons why chickens lose feathers, and what you can do to help them recover:

Reasons Why Chickens Lose Feathers

First of all, if your chickens are losing feathers it’s important that you know why they’re losing feathers so you can best help them.

The most common reasons why chickens lose feathers are:

Due to Molting

Every year, chickens – much like most birds – go through a molting process where they lose their old feathers and grow new ones.

This molting process can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and during this time your chickens will lose and replace most of their feathers.

It can be an alarming sight at first, seeing your chickens with patchy feathers, but it’s completely normal.

Stress and Environmental Issues

Another common reason why chickens lose feathers is due to stress or environmental issues.

If your chickens are kept in cramped or dirty conditions, are being picked on by other chickens, etc., this can lead to feather loss.

This type of feather loss looks very different from molting, it’ll be more dramatic and can happen at any time during the year.

Being Attacked By Predators

The most dramatic and upsetting reason why your chickens might suddenly have lost feathers is due to being attacked by a predator.

In some cases, this may also be due to other chickens in your flock attacking them.

If this is the cause, you need to take a close look at your chickens for any injuries and take steps to ensure they’re safe from the threat of predators.

Related How to help a chicken’s feathers grow back after being attacked.

Lice and Parasites

Another less common reason for feather loss is due to lice or other parasites.

There are various parasites that can cause feather loss and other health issues in chickens, best advice is to have a vet identify the exact parasites causing the problem.

How to Help Chickens Grow Feathers Back?

Once you know the reasons why your chickens are losing feathers, you can take steps to help them grow their feathers back as quickly as possible.

Injuries aside, the main thing you need to do is ensure they’re getting a balanced diet rich in protein.

Chickens require a protein-rich diet while they’re regrowing feathers as feathers are made from as much as 85%-90% of the protein called keratin.

You can do this by choosing a good quality protein-rich commercial chicken feed, as well as supplementing their diet with some additional protein sources, such as cooked eggs, mealworms, or even cat food.

Another important thing to do is to make sure your chickens have access to plenty of fresh water so they can stay hydrated.

If your chickens are molting, you can help them through the process by also providing them with additional calcium, which you can do by adding crushed oyster shells to their diet.

Overall, the better environmental conditions you can provide the better, too.

Even if it wasn’t due to stress why your chicken’s lost their feathers, the better their living conditions the quicker they’ll recover and regrow their feathers.

What Do You Feed Chickens to Get Their Feathers Back?

Protein!

But, there is such a thing as too much protein, so you have to be careful to provide a balanced diet.

When hens are laying, you should be providing a layer feed with around 16% protein. This ensures they have enough protein to keep laying healthy eggs.

When hens are molting or have experienced feather loss, however, it’s recommended you switch up their feed to one with around 20% protein.

In addition to a quality commercial feed, you can also provide some high-protein snacks to supplement your chicken’s diet, such as:

  • Cooked eggs (without the shell)
  • Mealworms
  • Cat food (yes, really!)
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Oats

Feeding chickens is always fun, see what foods your flock enjoys and treat them!

How Long Does It Take for Chicken Feathers to Grow Back?

The time it takes for chicken feathers to grow back will depend on the reason why they’ve lost feathers and the severity of the feather loss.

In most cases, if your chickens are getting a good diet and plenty of rest, they should start to see new feathers growing back within a few weeks.

It can take several months for a bunch of feathers to fully grow back, however.

It’s a gradual process, but as long as you’re providing everything your chickens need, you’ll see their new feathers growing back nice and strong and they’ll have a plumage to be proud of in no time.

In Summary

There are various reasons why chickens lose feathers, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help them grow their feathers back.

The main thing you need to do is ensure they’re getting a balanced diet rich in protein.

You can do this by choosing a good quality protein-rich commercial chicken feed, as well as providing protein-rich treat foods.

Resources

Image credits – Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

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