Add to My MSN

Molt Meatloaf: Much-Needed Protein During a Time of Regrowth

7/15/2012 8:03:36 AM

Tags: molt, molting, meatloaf, protein, health, Fresh Eggs Daily, Lisa - Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl

Molting is the process that chickens (and other birds) go through to replace old broken and dirty feathers with new ones.  This is not only for aesthetic reasons but also for health reasons. Healthy new feathers help trap warm air through the winter better than old feathers.
bonniemolt 
The shorter days of fall normally trigger the molt, ensuring the bird will have nice new feathers to keep them warm through the winter, but stresses such as heat, overcrowding, predators or poor nutrition can also cause a hen to start molting.
 
The first molt generally occurs at about 18 months of age and then will occur annually after that, usually in the autumn. Good layers tend to molt very quickly (taking 2-4 months) while poor layers can take up to 6-7 months to complete the entire molting process. Hens stop laying while they are molting since all their energy and nutrients need to be concentrated on growing new feathers, although good layers may continue during the initial part of the molt. Roosters also molt and are infertile while they are molting. 
roo molt 
A chicken can go through a mild molt and barely look as if she's missing any feathers, or look really awful with huge chunks of feathers missing.  My girls seem almost embarrassed, as if they know how horrible they look, and tend to hide behind bushes while they are molting.
hiding molt 
They act listless and unhappy. This is normal.
 
They will bounce back to their perky selves once the molt period is over and they have their gorgeous new glossy, healthy feathers.
blackmolt 
Egg production most likely won't return to the same levels as before the first molt but eggs will generally be larger and of better quality.
 
While the length of each hens' molt can vary widely, the pattern is always the same.  It starts at the head and neck, then moves to the saddle, breast, abdomen, wings and finally the tail.
moltneck 
It's fairly easy to recognize a molting hen versus one who is being pecked or the victim of feather pulling because in a molt, the new feathers literally push the old feathers out, so new shafts or quills can be seen where the old feathers are missing. If feathers are being pulled out by other hens, there will be bare spots.
 
If there are bare patches around the vent, it's most likely lice or other parasites, not a molt.  If you notice a hen with a bare breast or abdomen, she's not molting, she's broody. Read more about broody hens HERE.
broodpatch 
During a molt,  extra nutrition is extremely beneficial to your hens.  I developed this easy recipe for Molt Meatloaf that I feed to my hens while they are working hard to grow back their feathers. They love it - and the eggs, oats and ground beef provide protein while the milk products provide added calcium, both of which help their molt go faster and more smoothly. 
meatpan 
MOLT MEATLOAF 
Ingredients: 
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
¾ Cup Milk
2T Molasses
2/3 Cup Old-fashioned Oats
2/3 Cup Layer Crumble (or pellets moistened in a bit of water)
¼ Cup Wheat germ
¼ Cup Powdered Milk
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
¼ Cup Fresh or Dried Parsley
1T each Fresh or Dried Sage and Oregano
1 ½ Pounds Ground Beef
 
In large bowl, combine eggs, milk and molasses.  Stir in oats, crumble, wheat germ, powdered milk, garlic and herbs.  Add meat and mix well.  Pat mixture into a small casserole pan.
 
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Cool, slice and serve.  Leftover slices can be frozen and then defrosted as needed.
 
slicedmeat
eatmeatloaf  
JOIN US ON FACEBOOK 
 
Everyone is welcome at Fresh Eggs Daily!  To make sure you don't miss any of the tips and tricks, fan questions, giveaways or unending stream of cute photos join us on facebook at Fresh Eggs Daily and Ducks Too  and be sure to sign up to follow our BLOG via email, Networked Blogs or Google Connect. 


Related Content

Molting- What is it & How to Help Chickens Get Through it

Molting is the loss of feathers and their subsequent re-growth. See what it looks like and learn how...

All-Morning Muffins

Yes, you can make a balanced breakfast meal out of a single muffin.

Comfort Me with Meatloaf: Last Summer's Herbs Warm Up Winter Dishes

Colleen waits out the long winter by starting to plan for spring gardening – and enjoying the rosema...

The Sport of Fishing

Fishing is not only enjoyable, it's an essential survival skill and one of the easiest ways to find ...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

NEBRASKA DAVE
7/21/2012 12:42:33 AM
Lisa, congrats on being a featured blog in the latest new digital GRIT country.



Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!

SPECIAL BONUS OFFER!

At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!