OH MY GOSH, EVERYONE! MY BIRDS LOOK AWFUL!!! I hope you are all staying strong through this time when you look at your precious birds and not cringe! I have been learning more and more on how to care for my birds through the colder weather, but NO ONE ever explained the molting process to me! Shame on all my chicken friends… because this year, Handsome looks like his name is Coopless! He looks like my husband ran him over with his zero-turn mower and he survived! I’ll share pictures… he doesn’t even have a tail! Eek! So! Let’s get started…


When the seasons change, we often notice our beautiful birds have started to look sickly or even in an odd sense, “ran over by a lawn mower!” You will notice several factors during this time such as losing their feathers, loss in egg production numbers, they can even display signs of being lethargic. In Michigan, our fall molt is the hardest on our flock. Let’s cover some common things that should be done during this time and take a look at what things can go wrong and what to focus on.

Molting is so important for chickens, during this time their bodies are working 5x as hard to prepare for the colder weather and these new feathers will help protect them during those nights that get below freezing. The core temperature for a chicken is between 104-107 degrees depending on the breeds. The ones who run higher temperatures tend to be the breeds that are hardier for the winter weather and can lay eggs almost all winter once a molt has passed. Because the core temperature is so high you do not need to provide a heat lamp for your hens. I know because we feel it is necessary for us to have heat during the colder weather, that they would, but the whole point of the molting process is so we do not have to give them a heat lamp. Their bodies are telling us, “We got this, we will be warm!” Providing heat is not necessary, but blocking wind and snow from entering the coop is! During the molt they will move slower and if your flock does not free range, please provide some safe spaces to hide from heavy snow fall or cold rain and winds. Trust me, your half naked birds will be grateful for that.

Many feel that growing feathers is no big deal, their chickens handle it great, but let’s dig a bit deeper. Did you know there is an actual enzymatic process that your chicken goes through, using up important trace minerals such as zinc, selenium and manganese?

Zinc: during this time your hen will be using the zinc she once used for reproduction of eggs to help build the feather follicle stemming from the skin, also known as a pin or shaft, and what once was used to help metabolize feed will be used for this as well.

Selenium: is literally what is used in chicken feed to help your hens and roosters with hatchability, semen quality and more. During molting, this is being reserved and is why you will see a lack of interest in your roosters on your hens, as well as lack of egg production. Supplementing this during the process can be helpful with mood enhancement, if your hens seem sad or lethargic, add some in their water with electrolytes!

Manganese: is used during this time to build up the feather strength, ability to provide a thicker feather as well as a stronger follicle. I usually recommend options such as peanut butter (or any other nut butter), whole nuts with no shells, oatmeal, beans and more.

I do believe in supplementing their bodies during this time. It is the least we owe them for their companionship, eggs to eat, and if you butcher, you’re improving the meat that you will consume one day in a healthy way!

Supplements Recommended During Molting

· Trace minerals mix or block- if you purchase mix, just sugar coat pellets before feeding

· Oyster shells and grit- add a full bowl amount for free picking, available 24/7

· Electrolytes- add into water or use powders on feed or make into a Jell-O as a treat

· Protein- add 1/3 of a cup more per feeding per chicken or increase feed to a 20% level

· Warm bowl of oatmeal- add cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper (this is necessary to activate the health benefits of turmeric called curcumin*) and thyme or oregano and basil, warm not hot! Great for a snack and helps hold weight and boost immune system.

· Keep a first aid box in case of blood feathers, plyers and witch hazel, cotton balls and corn starch


*Curcumin helps the body manage inflammation occurring in the muscles and the skin tissues. It will help during the molting process by reducing the amount of soreness and any irritation occurring. SO DO NOT FORGET THE BLACK PEPPER! LOL


I am sure if you are a first-time chicken owner you may have no idea what a blood feather is, which is okay! It took me 6 years to see one and it wasn’t in my flock. Our neighbor called me after we dropped our kids off at school and said “Mandie, I have a chicken emergency can you come over ASAP!” UMMMM, YES, I CAN AND I DID!! I grabbed my first aid box and loaded my toddler up and off we went to see what emergency was amongst us. When we showed up, Tammy was holding a bloody hen who looked lethargic, skinny and just down right exhausted. She told me about how lately she has been just not feeling well, she’s losing feathers and weight. Once I held her, I noticed she had several large feathers bleeding. (I do not have photos, so please google this so you can see and notice it when or if it does occur) This is why I recommend having witch hazel and plyers with corn starch.

1. You will want to clean the hen off, by either by wiping her with the wash cloth or use cotton balls and witch hazel. The witch hazel is very gentle on their skin and will clean the area very well.

2. Gently wrap your hen in a towel and grab your plyers and corn starch

3. Remove by pulling the feather out towards the tail, basically in the direction the feather is growing. It will bleed more and be very painful if you pull straight up or towards the head.

4. Wipe area clean with the witch hazel and cotton ball.

5. Pinch some cornstarch and cover the pore that is bleeding, this will stop bleeding faster (if you want a recipe for your own styptic powder mixture to keep in your first aid box read my other blog coming soon (My Flocks First Aid Box)

Technically, all new growth feathers are considered a blood feather. When first year birds or during a molt process when the new growth is replacing the old feathers lost, these feathers have an excessive blood supply within the shaft (the part of the feather growing from the follicle). If the feather breaks it can cause infection so clean it well and keep her in a clean area, if you have one available.

Once we got Tammy’s hen cleaned up and her few bleeding blood feathers pulled and corn starched, I went over the molting process and what she should add to the coop to prevent this from happening. By adding the protein and trace minerals, this will prevent blood feathers by at least by 75%. Never let anyone tell you, you’re just spoiling them, BECAUSE YOU ARENT SPOILING THEM, YOU ARE TAKING CARE OF THEM! It is so important to give them the best life we can. If you can’t do that then why bother having them!

During this process feed more, love more and try out the supplementing list! This can become one more thing that you prepare for before the colder weather comes! Cause yah know!? It is never ending these days! Lol

These are Shadow and Mama, they are officially almost done molting and have their new beautiful feathers! Just wanted to share how cute they are getting each season! They run our duck flock. Shadow took over with taking care of babies, because Mama needed a break! 25 babies can be a lot!


Stay tuned for “My Flocks First Aid Box” Blog too… this little box will be your best friend during emergencies.


Until next time,

Happy to bring you information!

Amanda B.


Published by Amanda B.

Our family homestead began 6 years ago when we decided to buy a home in the country in the beautiful state of Michigan. I was on a mission to have it all but no idea where to begin. So, our dream house found us! I know, I know, that doesn’t sound right, but it did! An older gentleman that shopped at our local pet food store had approached my family about having a home for sale and once we saw it, we knew there was no way we could get approved for the amount he was asking. BUT this man was an angel disguised as a human here on earth. We called him up and he met our daughter (my mother’s 1st of 3 grandbabies) and when I explained to him the sad news he simply said, “I have known your family for a long time, your mother worked at my kennel and holds a piece of my heart and I do not care how much you get approved for. I want that little girl (pointing to my dear Abby who was 6 months old) to have a forever home. When you get approved by a loan company come find me and buy my home.” With tears of joy and tears of so much weight being lifted off my shoulders I hugged him with the biggest and hardest hug I could gather up and we went through the home buying process. 6 years later, I am here in this very home to share my love for poultry and homesteading. That entire step of homesteading started with chickens! We have always been in love with animals and nutrition is my number one priority for my animals. My family’s business is Holistic Pet Store, feeding raw, dehydrated raw and the finest foods for pets and holistic and homeopathic supplements for people and pets. We take nutrition to a different level. So, finding a poultry feed that fit in was my task and I was up for the job. I of course brought in organic, soy free, and even things to add such a safflowers and sunflower seeds, but as my family grew, this $48 per bag of feed for 30+ poultry was not in the budget plan. We went from a family of 3 and a couple dogs and chickens to a family of 5, 4 dogs, 7 cats, 3 guinea pigs, 20 rabbits, 4 goats, 2 cows, 30+ chickens, 20+ ducks, 3 turkeys and 1 pig. So, I took my knowledge of feed and started fermenting everything. (I’ll explain this process to you soon in another blog post, it will blow your mind!!!) Every animal’s feed had been fermented and costs were minimized tremendously and it seemed as though nothing could go wrong…but it did. The Words that Changed Everything When Evie my 3rd beautiful baby girl came into our world, my job was on hold which meant my money used to pay for the animals’ feed was no longer available. Things became solely on my husband’s shoulders. He was prepared and had budgeted for most of it, but money just seemed to disappear. So, we did what it was time to do. We sent the cows for butcher and rented the goats out for parties and events, and cut costs where we could. Which sadly meant buying the cheapest feed. We did the usual big box store brands. We thought this cannot be too bad and everything will be fine. The first few months everything was okay but we slowly noticed our chickens lost their shiny feathers and softness. They even had weaker immune systems and we had lost chickens more than we ever had the years prior. We had no sign of Avian Influenza, but we had chickens dying at random moments for no reason. I truly felt it couldn’t get worse and then I started cracking eggs and the yolks were gray, the beautiful orange yolks dwindled to flavorless, bland grays and pale yellows. At this time, I felt like the odds were against us and was about to sell everything I owned and when I was able to work, I would start up with a new flock. The next day we had our wonderful truck driver from our distributor, John A. Van Den Bosch, come in. When I told him the news and was to my wits end, he said the magic words that changed everything, “Have you ever heard of NatureServe?” At first, I thought to myself maybe, then quickly realized I never had. He told me about the company and how Van Den Bosch carries them and that he truly feels it is the perfect fit for what I am looking for. When I looked them up, by golly-gee he was right! NatureServe was everything I was looking for, they used fermented probiotics and digestive enzymes and ESSENTIAL OILS. Combined, it was an immune system booster created by man with 100% of natures bounty. I was blown away. HOW DID I MISS THIS! I am sure if you are reading this you may think I am kind of crazy but let me fill you in on a life of one of my chickens. They receive fresh water every other day with essential oils in it to help prevent respiratory issues, as well as keep the immune system stable. They have free access 24/7 to almost 200 pounds of feed that is mixed with safflower and sunflower seeds. As a treat we chose fermented broccoli sprouts or flaxseed sprouts. They have almost 11 acres of grass and wild herbs and flowers to rummage through and a medium sized pond to find some yummy tadpoles, baby frogs, and crickets to eat. But when winter hit, it was fermented sprouts and feed they relied on the most. To find an affordable but not breaking the bank food that fit my lifestyle and ethics was hard until that magical day I was introduced to NatureServe. NatureServe is a company based on family and faith. They use the highest quality ingredients while going above and beyond with what they are putting in their feed. For example, they use: Fermented pre/probiotics and digestive enzymes to support your flock’s digestive tract Flaxseed for a safe form of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber Alfalfa, THIS ONE I LOVE! Reduces seasonal depression in chickens, helps hens lay all winter or during a usual off season, and is an amazing protein source Diatomaceous Earth is a natural de-wormer, and with its main ingredient being silica it will help give your poultry a healthy heart Marigold may be the best ingredient added to this feed! Marigolds help the skin’s ability to heal faster as well as reduces eye infections from even starting. This flower is also a natural anti inflammatory which is wonderful for chickens that free range on several acres all day Oregano and Thyme to support immune system The feeds are produced through Belstra Milling in DeMotte, Indiana. With NatureServe’s ingredients being the safest and the healthiest, I know what I am putting into my flock is of the highest quality. After all, don’t we do this so we can feed our families the healthiest meat? As a homesteader we use the whole chicken. The chicken’s meat is for food, the bones and certain organs are used in stocks and broths. Why feed a food that is destroying an animal’s immune system when you can feed a layer that can excel your poultry’s life and not only improve their way of living but your own. What change came since being on NatureServe Stronger flocks Longer egg laying duration Strong shells No issues with blocked eggs or eggs breaking inside the chicken due to optimal nutrition Golden orange yolks Healthy chicks, poults, and ducklings Nutritionally satisfied poultry (no aggression due to lack of nutrition or hunger) Beyond beautiful feathers and colors I can’t wait to touch base on more topics with you! Keep your eyes peeled for more fun blogs by yours truly, Amanda B.