The shorter days of generally fall trigger a molt, which is basically the loss of old, dirty or broken feathers and the regrowth of new feathers in chickens and ducks. The timing of the molt ensures that your hens have nice new, fluffable feathers for the winter that will help keep your chickens warm. The first adult molt occurs around 18 months old and then happen annually after that.
If your run starts looking like a giant pillow fight has just taken place, and you do a headcount and no one is missing, chances are your flock is molting. Each hen is different, and the molt, which begins around the heat and neck and then continues down the body, can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Some chickens continue to lay through a good portion of their molt, others stop all together. Since feathers require lots of protein to grow, extra protein can help your hens get through the molt easier.
This recipe for granola bites that I developed is a big favorite around here and provides additional of protein for your chickens during their fall molt. Mealworms, sunflower seeds, and nuts are all great sources of protein.
Molt-Busting Mealworm Granola Bites
2 Cups oats
1 Cup shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup wheat germ
1/2 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup craisins
1/2 Cup chopped unsalted nuts (I used almonds)
1/2 Cup coconut oil, liquified
1/4 Cup blackstrap molasses
1 Cup dried mealworms
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8x10 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add liquid and stir to combine well. Gently mix in mealworms. Pat mixture into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely (or refrigerate until cool) then slice into bars or break into pieces. Or just serve up the entire pan as is! Leftovers can be left at room temperature or refrigerated (or frozen for longer storage).
|-Mix wet and dry ingredients-|
|-Stir to combine-|
|-Gently mix in mealworms-|
|-Pat into pan and bake-|
As you can see, these bars are a huge hit with our girls, especially during a molt when extra protein is so important. For more about the molt process and my recipe for Molt Meatloaf, read HERE.
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