What’s Going on Inside?
June 20, 2016

What Nutrients are Important to Maintain Feather Growth?

For a chicken that has gone through a molt, regrowing feathers in the winter is extremely important, particularly to help it stay warm.

Feathers are produced in the skin of the bird, built from proteins called methionine and cysteine. These proteins are commonly found in poultry feeds. In fact, all poultry feeds must have methionine listed on the feed tag.

One thing you can do to help your birds regrow their feathers is provide the nutrients they need to do so in their feed.

If you’re focusing on feather regrowth don’t just focus on the crude protein value. Be sure you look at feed tags for the amino acid values that are listed, specifically looking for a feed that has a high level of methionine.

The minimum methionine levels you’re going to notice in layer feeds is going to be in the .3 to .35 range. For a mature laying hen, look for methionine levels in the high .35 to .40 range. If you’re comparing feeds or you’re price-shopping, look for the feed that has the highest methionine level on its tag. Those are going to be your best options for feather regrowth.

A lot of people recommend you feed a lot of extra protein, such as scratch grains and treats, to birds that are going through, or coming back from a molt. But one of the best things you can do is cut out everything except for the complete feeds, making sure that when your birds eat, they’re eating all the protein that they need for that feather growth.

Make sure you’re providing a complete feed that has a higher value of crude protein like a 17 percent feed or even a 20 percent feed. For example, the Kalmbach Feeds All Natural 17 percent Layer Feed and our Organic Harvest 17 percent Layer Feed are great options. These feeds have been specifically formulated by our poultry nutritionists to focus on protein and specific amino acids, and have a higher methionine level than most competitors. ┬áIf you really want to give your bird a boost, the 20 percent layer feed has a great level of methionine, as well as a bit of extra crude protein. These are all great options if you’re looking for feather regrowth.

Taking these steps will make sure that your birds are getting the nutrients they need to produce those high quality feathers to stay warm in the winter.

Nancy Jefferson
Nancy Jefferson
Nancy is a poultry nutritionist with Kalmbach Feeds with a PhD in food and animal science from West Virginia University. She resides in Crown City, Ohio with her husband John, where they raise beef cattle and keep a flock of backyard chickens. Nancy enjoys watching her chickens scratching and pecking around and collecting fresh eggs to feed to her family. She is a regular contributor to the Feed Your Flocks blog, where she provides tips and information to help backyard poultry owners get the most from their flocks. Read more about Nancy