Managing The Moult
By Ronnie Sillitoe
My way of managing the moult starts with resetting the time clock to 10 hours of daylight from 8am to 6 pm (when the youngest chick is 6 weeks old) this will enhance the outside daylight as some days are dark and overcast if you are reducing the time clock weekly only reduce in small amounts i e 15 minutes or anything longer may set them back to moult longer.
As I live on the North East coast 800 metres from the sea we get different weather to those who live inland with sea fog on warm days taking the humidity to 100%, which means I have to use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air to 70% which I believe helps the birds health and ability to have a good moult as bacteria and mould begins to form with higher humidity.
I start show cage training at 4 weeks, old or when I am confident the chicks are feeding themselves, they are naturally inquisitive and will go into the show cages without any help. I leave the cages hung on to the stock cages for a period of approximately two hours, and only remove them when the chicks reach 6 weeks old and place them on a judging stand for 30 minutes rising to 60 minutes as the get older. I have found the younger you train them the more confident they become, at this time they are caged separately to avoid feather pulling or bullying which can spoil a good youngster
When the chicks are breaking into the moult I lightly spray them with warm water every time they are training and hang them outside in a wire porch I built onto the cabin so they can get direct sunshine which is very beneficial and they like it, I also tie a bit of string to the top of the show cage and put a bit of honey on it to make them stretch up giving them confidence
My feeding for chicks is easyyem soft food to this I add couscous, carrot, extra hemp and Niger seeds (a table spoon of each) and a ¼ of a teaspoon of brewer’s yeast (vitamin B complex) and a teaspoon of pre-moult 100 (a vitamin and mineral formula ).I also feed on different days greens in the form of broccoli and cabbage leafs rough chopped up in a blender to this i add pinhead oatmeal and a spoonful of pre-moult 100,in the water I use apple cider vinegar with mother (mother means in its rawest purist state), as the refined apple cider vinegar (ACV) doesn’t work as well. I find making the birds gut more acidic helps them absorb more goodness from the food and prevents disease, I give this 3 days a week on the other days they get Aviform Ultimate a vitamin supplement and then plain water and one day calcium so its Monday ACV Tuesday plain water Wednesday AU, Thursday ACV, Friday calcium, Saturday ACV, Sunday AU.
I continue with this untill the feathers on the body are looking likethey are nearly finished and only the head to go then I reduce the feeding to three days a week and then two days, then one day as I believe continuing with egg food keeps them soft and they take longer to finish the moult, I also reduce the water products to plain water 4 days calcium 1 day vitamins 2 days.
In the grit hopper I give them a mixture of mineralised tonic grit,charcoal and pink and black minerals which they can pick at
When the birds are finished moulting all soft food stops, but I continue with the greens for 2 days a week giving a teaspoon each only.