Moulting chickens and how we can help them
Chickens go through several moults in their lifetime, here Clare Taylor (aka The Chicken Whisperer) discusses the steps you can take to support your birds through what is a stressful period.
A chicken’s first moult is shortly after they hatch and they will have two, sometimes three moults before they achieve their adult plumage. Thereafter, they will moult once a year, usually in early autumn although this can be dependent on the amount of daylight available. “An early moult, or perhaps an interim small moult, can be triggered by a sudden change in the daylight hours or temperature, even in the summer” states Clare.
Typically, as the daylight hours shorten a chicken’s metabolic body clock changes – they eat less and they start to moult. Some birds will experience a gradual moult, replacing feathers progressively, working down the body from head to tail, whereas others (the best layers can often be the heavier moulters) can experience a ‘total feather-drop’ and
be virtually naked, which can look alarming!
“From the bird’s perspective a heavy moult takes up a lot of energy and nutrients and can have an adverse effect on its immune system” Clare notes. “It may become apparent that they look withdrawn, paler in the face and will possibly have stopped laying eggs so it is essential to support them through this difficult period with extra care and high-quality nutrition.”
“I usually take them off layers rations and my pure breeds are producing very few eggs by this time anyway” she continues, “and I feed them on growers’ pellets, which have more of the protein that they need to grow new feathers.”
Ms Taylor continues, “I add a measure of Nettex’s Vit Boost Tonic to their water every day. The Biotin in Vit Boost Tonic helps support feather regrowth” she notes.
It is important to remember that during the moulting period
your flock should be handled less frequently.
It is important to remember that during the moulting period your flock should be handled less frequently.
“The emerging feathers in their quills have a strong blood supply and are very sensitive, so handling them will cause some discomfort” Clare notes. “I avoid any unnecessary handling at this time and hold off on routine medication such as worming until they are fully feathered again and I try not to move any birds to different pens around moulting time as this adds to the stress on the birds.”
“Hens will typically all start to moult at different times (well mine do!), and it can take up to a month for them to all finish the process, and a further 3 weeks or so to start to lay eggs again” she continues. “Taking that extra time and effort to reduce the stress and discomfort associated with the moulting process and adjusting their diets for this brief period will help keep your flock healthier and happier for longer”.
The moulting process is completely natural and happens on an annual basis but some simple management, and nutritional, adjustments can help support your birds at this key time to keep your flock comfortable and productive for as much of the year as possible.
Nettex Launch Virocur Defra Approved Disinfectant – supporting chicken owners through the Avian Influenza outbreak
The risk of Avian Influenza is a significant concern for UK backyard chicken owners, with over 60,000 birds currently affected at 7 locations for captive birds, with a further 15 locations for cases in wild birds across the UK  
Due to the rise in number of cases, and to reduce the risk of disease in your flock, it is imperative that backyard chicken owners follow the Biosecurity advice from the Animal and Plant Health Authority (APHA), including
- Maintaining high hygiene standards through the use of DEFARA-approved disinfectants
- Staying up to date with the latest advice from DEFRA regarding poultry management and housing restrictions coming into force from Monday 14th This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to keep them separated from wild birds.
Nettex Poultry DEFRA Approved Virocur disinfectant – Here to help
To support backyard chicken keepers Nettex have launched Virocur, a peroxygen based, broad spectrum disinfectant powder. Use diluted to disinfect poultry housing and equipment, it is DEFRA approved for Foot and Mouth, Swine Vesicular Disease, Diseases of Poultry and General Orders. Virocur can be used to clean housing, equipment, drinkers and feeders and it can also be used as an effective boot dip – helping you adhere to the latest advice to help keep your flock healthy and happy.
Nettex Virocur is part of the Nettex Poultry Hygiene range and comes in a 1kg tub with an RRP of £22.00* helping you to ensure that you have plenty to hand during the difficult months ahead.
*Including VAT. Please note that prices may vary depending on retailer.
Tips for keeping your flock safe:
- Clean footwear when tending to birds – use Nettex Virocur Disinfectant as a boot dip
- Minimise movement in and out of enclosures
- Humanly control rats and mice
- Disinfect hard surfaces regularly with Nettex Virocur Disinfectant
- Clean and disinfect vehicles that come into contact with poultry
- Place your bird’s food and water in enclosed areas away from wild birds
- Remove any spilled feed regularly
- Keep your birds separate from wild life and wild water fowl
- Fence of areas of standing water and put netting over ponds
- Keep ducks and geese in separate buildings to other poultry species
- Register your birds at www.gov.uk/poultry-registration
- Keep up to date with government advice, sign via up for SMS or email alerts at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apha-alert-subscription-service
- Keep your birds healthy by supplementing their drinking water with Nettex Vit Boost Tonic daily
- Use Nettex Ground and Bedding Sanitising Powder to clear the ground and bedding of worm eggs and bacteria
- Spray any eggs collected with Nettex Sanitiser and Egg Wash Solution
- Keep Nettex Anti-Feather Pecking Spray to hand to protect the flock from any birds who develop a pecking habit during confinement
 BFREPA, “EMAIL: Avian Influenza Update,” 2020
 APHA, “Guidance: Avian INfluenza,” [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#latest-situation. [Accessed 04 12 2020].
Nettex Poultry Proud to Support the British Hen Welfare Trust
After a challenging year, Nettex Poultry, the UK manufacturer of complete solutions for healthy, happy chickens, are proud to announce their commitment to support the British Hen Welfare Trust through 2021. This exciting partnership means that Nettex Poultry will contribute up to £10,000 for the UK’s leading rehoming charity from the sale of its products during 2021, and both organisations will work together on exciting initiatives throughout the year. Look out over the coming months for more information and the BHWT logo appearing on Nettex Poultry packs!
“The British Hen Welfare Trust have been friends of Nettex for some time now and the work they do for the thousands of chickens that need new homes is just inspiring. We are very proud to be supporting such a hardworking charity and we cannot wait to work more closely with them to bring all members support, advice, offers and, of course, great products that really work!” Johanna Gater-Willats, Nettex Poultry Commercial Manager.
Nettex Poultry are a leading and trusted chicken healthcare product manufacturer who have been providing a complete range for ﬂocks for over 10 years. Offering product solutions and practical advice, tips and support, Nettex Poultry are your trusted eggsperts and have support for both beginner and experienced chicken keepers. The Nettex Poultry range was recently relaunched, with new products, improved eco-friendly packaging and a complete revamp of the Nettex chicken owner website www.nettexpoultry.com
To support the launch of this exciting partnership Nettex Poultry are giving members of the British Hen Welfare Trust access to their Pesky Pests campaign which includes an eggcellent offer of 10% OFF the PESKY PESTS RANGE OF PRODUCTS – helping to equip you with everything you need to tackle the stressful problem of mites and lice as we come into the warmer months. Just visit the BHWT store to purchase from 1st April or visit your preferred Nettex Poultry stockist.
There are a number of Pesky Pests that can become a real problem for you and your ﬂock. It is vital that you identify them, tackle them with the right products ﬁrst time and deter future infestations with the correct management routines. Nettex Poultry can help you with each of these steps, with solutions that tackle Red Mite, Scaly Leg Mite, Northern Fowl Mite and Lice, helping to ensure that your chickens stay healthy and happy.
Get off to a clucking great start with Nettex this spring, check out their brand new website at www.nettexpoultry.com for advice from eggsperts such as The Chicken Whisperer and Tommy the Vet on how to identify, tackle and deter Pesky Pests.
Follow @NettexPoultry on Facebook for more top tips, clucky dip competitions, eggspert video guides and much more!
Nettex Poultry win at Veterinary Marketing Association Awards
Innovation, problem solving and enhanced customer experience led to poultry nutrition and healthcare manufacturer, Nettex Poultry, winning the Packaging Application and Delivery award at the 2022 Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA) Awards. Their winning product, the Total Hygiene Pack, was recognised by judge, Tim Potter, for providing a great solution to a problem for a specific target audience.
The Total Hygiene Pack contains three key products from the mite and pest control range, Total Mite Kill Aerosol, Total Mite Kill Ready to Use Spray and Total Hygiene Powder and aims to educate chicken owners around the four-stage hygiene and mite management regime. The special pack also provides the opportunity for chicken owners to purchase and trial these best-selling products in smaller more cost-effective volumes prior to committing to purchasing larger pack sizes. Furthermore, increasing basket size for retailers.
The new fully recyclable, plastic free outer package has cut out egg shapes on the front to allow consumers to see the products they know and love whilst providing plenty of room on pack to display their new and engaging branding. The special pack also comes with a handle for easy carrying and boasts education as a USP with consumer-friendly, visual communications on why and how to use the products as part of the four-stage management regime.
Going head-to-head with global giants in the industry, Nettex Poultry is delighted with the win. Ellie Cashmore, product manager says “2022 was the first year the Nettex in-house marketing team had the pleasure of attending the Veterinary Marketing Association Awards. The team were thrilled to be out and about after two years of restrictions and were simply pleased to be taking part in the fun and soaking up inspiration from like-minded people within the animal health industry. When it was announced that the Nettex Poultry team had won the Packaging Application and Delivery Award for their new Total Hygiene Pack, it truly was the cherry on top of the cake! Winning this award when up against renowned global organisations with much greater resource really was an egg-cellent achievement. The team at Nettex Poultry have worked hard over the last two years to embark upon their journey towards more sustainable and consumer friendly packaging that is engaging, easy to shop for and adheres to the needs of the modern backyard poultry keeper, further strengthening their market leading position. The team look forward to bringing more solutions to the industry in the near future.”
The Total Hygiene Pack launched in November 2021 and is included in the current Nettex Pesky Pests Campaign. A full re-launch of Nettex Poultry in 2020 saw new look, eco-friendly packaging, with vibrant, fun designs, to meet the needs of the growing number of good life aspirational chicken keepers. The team are thrilled these changes were noticed, and helped forge their way to victory at this year’s VMAs.
Re-launch of the NETTEX Poultry Range
From 1st September 2020 the Nettex backyard poultry range will undergo an eggciting re-launch – revealing a great new look and packaging to further meet the needs of the modern-day backyard chicken keeper.
Range improvements have been made based on insights gained from recent consumer research and feedback, ensuring Nettex continues to provide the complete solution for healthy and happy chickens. The leading poultry range is a complete portfolio of UK manufactured products that have been trusted by chicken keepers to keep their flocks happy and healthy for over 10 years.
Recent Nettex research confirmed that consumers know and love the brand and its products and so product formulations will remain the same, however, from September the range will showcase a brand-new look in recyclable packaging with vibrant, fun designs and some name alterations to make it easier to shop for, and use Nettex products.
Additionally, Nettex have re-launched their website (www.nettexpoultry.com) providing a comprehensive, fun and engaging advice hub packed full of eggspert content from key opinion leaders The Chicken Whisperer and Tommy the Vet to support all new and existing chicken keepers with topics regarding chicken health and well-being. The new website will also feature an interactive ‘Get Involved’ area where chicken keepers can enter competitions and share their stories and photos.
To celebrate the eggciting news there is 10% discount on the whole range of products until .21st September*
To find an online or local stockist or for more information visit www.nettexpoultry.com or follow us on Facebook @NettexPoultry.
Nettex providing you with the complete solution to happy and healthy chickens.
*Whilst stocks last at selected retailers until 31st Oct.
Summer Lovin’ – Supplements for Healthy, Happy Chickens
Supplements for Healthy, Happy Chickens
Whilst the warmer months bring perks to chicken owners with extended daylight hours, better weather conditions and, of course, more eggs, it is important not to forget that summer can be a stressful time for your flock. Chickens can suffer increased stress from situations that arise during the Summer months, including parasite infestation, heat stress, increased egg laying and new arrivals to the flock. The trusted “Eggsperts” at Nettex Poultry are here to answer your questions about why and how you should be showing your flock some extra lovin’ this Summer.
Immune Support during Parasite Infestation
We all know that with warm weather comes the increased threat of Pesky Pests such as Lice and Mites but what most owners forget is that it is essential to support your hen’s immune system during this time as well as tackling those Pesky Pests in the housing and on the birds.
What health implications does a Lice or Mite infestation have on my chickens?
Whilst not all Pesky Pests live on the birds, they will feed off their blood at some point in their lifecycle. This can cause severe health issues and stress to their immune system. Your chickens may look anaemic, they may become more irritated resulting in feather pecking and they could even stop laying. If left unsupported nutritionally, your birds could take longer to recover and as a result have poorer welfare.
How do I support my chicken’s health during Lice or Mite infestations?
Once you have tackled the current Lice or Mite problem and have implemented a regular cleaning regime to deter future infestations, it is key to help your chickens regain full health by supplying them with immune supporting vitamins and minerals. Not only will this make them feel good but it will enable them to be on top of their egg laying game!
Nettex Vit Boost Tonic supplies essential vitamins to support health and vitality all year round through the drinking water, this is particularly useful during stressful situations when your chicken’s immune system may have taken a hit. The added Biotin in Vit Boost Tonic also supports feather regrowth, ideal if your hen may have succumbed to feather pecking as a result of irritation from Lice and Mites. During a pest infestation, your hen may appear to be laying less frequently or the quality of her eggs may reduce. If this is the case, be sure to add Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder to her feed. This mineral supplement has been specifically formulated to help improve egg quality and shell strength with carefully selected ingredients such as Limestone, Oyster Grit, Seaweed and Calcium offering a powerhouse of goodies for your girls!
Chickens are susceptible to heat stress as their body temperature is much higher than
humans and they are unable to sweat to cool down, instead tending to pant, very much like cats or dogs.
What is the normal temperature of a chicken?
A healthy chicken has a body temperature of 40.6 – 43 degrees Celsius, which is far greater than that of a human at 37 degrees Celsius. So, remember what may feel rather warm to you will be hot to them.
How do I help my chickens avoid heat stress?
In hot weather, ensure your flock has access to shade and provide plenty of fresh, cool water. On particularly hot days you can also pop a frozen bottle of water into their drinker to help keep the water cool. Throughout the summer, it is essential to support your flock with appropriate nutrition and supplementation to maintain optimum health, support the immune system and help prevent stress.
How do I support my chicken’s health during warm weather?
During warm weather give your girls some extra lovin’ and add Nettex Vit Boost Tonic to clean drinking water. This contains essential vitamins and minerals to support optimum health during stressful situations. The heat can reduce your chicken’s appetite and this is crucial as she needs extra nutrients for increased egg laying during this time. If this occurs, simply add some Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder to her feed, this contains Aniseed which acts as an appetite stimulant encouraging your hen to eat more whilst providing essential minerals needed for effective egg laying.
New birds to the flock
Summer tends to be the time of year when poultry keepers consider introducing new birds to their existing flock as the extended daylight hours makes it easier to monitor how they settle in.
How should I introduce new birds to the flock?
Introducing new chickens to the flock has the potential to be a major cause of stress and upheaval, so it needs to be planned with consideration for both your new and existing chicken’s welfare, and then undertaken slowly. Ensure that you check any new chickens to ensure they are free from Lice and Mites – it is advised to tackle any hitchhikers on new arrivals before they are introduced to the rest of the flock.
New chickens should be quarantined initially near to your original flock (to build up their homing instinct) and introduced gradually initially with the existing flock free ranging around them. Monitor the flock when they are together and take action quickly to separate any chickens being bullied. Use toys and environmental stimulation to keep chickens entertained and ensure you have lots of food and water stations. Put the new chickens into the coop after the existing ones have gone to sleep.
How do I support both the new and existing chicken’s health during these changes?
New and existing birds may be nervous and unsettled with re-homing and the added stress can cause a number of health concerns from egg laying, feather pecking, bullying and in extreme cases even cannibalism. By adding a supplement such as Nettex Vit Boost Tonic to their water during this time you can support their immune systems, whilst they figure out their new pecking order.
Egg Laying and Quality
All of the above scenarios can have a detrimental impact on the productivity of your hen and how often she lays good quality, yummy eggs. So, if you want to ensure you are not left short of delicious, rich and golden treats for breakfast al fresco then read on.
Why do chickens lay more eggs in the Summer?
First it is important to understand why a chicken lays more in the Summer months to best understand her nutritional needs. Chickens are seasonal breeders, so most hens will stop laying eggs as we move towards the winter months. This is mainly due to the reduction in daylight hours as the reducing level of light in the winter months will affect both the nutritional intake of the hens and the production of hormones responsible for reproduction in the chicken, meaning less eggs are produced. Pure breed hens may stop laying completely from October to January. Hens will also not lay if they are moulting as they divert their resources to grow feathers.
My chickens are laying poor quality eggs, what should I do?
Sometimes hens may lay eggs that have thin, soft or no shells, or may stop laying all together. There may be a number of reasons for this but there are a number of steps that you can take yourself to investigate the causes of poor-quality eggs. First ensure your hens are generally healthy by conducting a health check (visit www.nettexpoultry.com/videos) to identify any issues, check they are not infected with parasites, being pecked by other birds or overheating. You should feed your hens high-quality layers feed, making sure that this is a significant proportion of their diet and keep treats to a minimum and only offered after they have eaten all of the main feed. Soft shelled eggs might be more common at the start or end of the laying period, or when the hens are older.
How can I support egg quality and shell strength?
If you want eggcellent eggs it’s simple, just add the following Nettex products to your hens’ feed.
1. Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder is specially formulated to improve egg quality, assist digestion and provide nutritional support for laying hens. Containing Limestone, Oyster Grit and Calcium this product will help strengthen and improve egg shell quality.
2. Nettex Poultry Seaweed is rich in essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support bright, golden yolks, help improve shell quality and support feather growth.
If you have more burning questions about nutrition in Summer or just chicken keeping in general then visit our brand new website https://www.nettexpoultry.com/advice-centre/your-questions-answered/ or follow @NettexPoultry on Facebook for regular cluck dates. Click here to find a stockist.
Winter Wonders – First Aid, Hygiene and Behaviour
First aid, hygiene and behavioural solutions for a safe, happy and healthy flock.
As winter draws in, it’s essential to prepare your flock and their housing. Less daylight hours, wet and muddy conditions, increased exposure to bacteria and viruses, prolonged confinement in housing and bullying are all factors that affect the health and wellbeing of your flock.
Happy Hen Homes
Your flock will be spending more time in their run and housing due to the lessening daylight hours. The increased risk of Avian Influenza during the winter months also means that the UK may face another ‘flockdown’, resulting in chickens having to be confined to their coops and runs 24/7 for a number of weeks, possibly extending to months.
With this in mind, firstly you need to ensure that your coop and run provide enough living space for your chickens, as overcrowding can cause issues such as bullying. There are no specific regulations for backyard owners regarding stocking density (the amount of space each chicken needs). However, as a guide Nettex eggsperts would recommend that you have at least, 1 sq metre of space per bird and a run of 3m x 3m is appropriate for approximately 3 chickens.
Be aware of the potential risk and clinical signs of Avian Influenza during the winter months and keep an eye on the DEFRA website. Poultry keepers should maintain good hygiene practices at all times, and remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock. You can sign up online for free, click here to receive alerts on any outbreaks of bird flu, and register your birds.
Repairs and weatherproofing
Make sure that the coop and run are in good repair before the cold weather starts and check that the housing has adequate ventilation above head height to prevent a build-up of condensation inside. It is important to also ensure that the run is well attached and has a clear waterproof covering to protect the flock from any bad weather, contaminated wild bird droppings and to prevent mud from forming in the litter as chickens kept in damp and muddy conditions will quickly develop bacterial and fungal foot problems. It’s really important to keep the housing and run dry and clean to prevent health conditions such as Salmonella, Coccidiosis or Bumblefoot.
As your flock will be spending more time in their run and housing in winter, now’s the time to ‘up the ante’ with your cleaning regime!
The coop should have a deep clean before winter –clean thoroughly with a DEFRA approved disinfectant such as Nettex Virocur which is approved and effective against dangerous viruses such as Avian Influenza. Regularly sprinkle Nettex Ground and Bedding Sanitising Powder on the litter, in the run, under the roosting bars in their coop and on the bedding in between cleaning out. This highly absorbent powder containing natural Zeolite and Yucca will help to promote a clean and dry environment whilst absorbing the odour of faeces and organic matter, whilst clearing the ground of worm eggs reducing the risk they pose to birds. All feeders and drinkers need a good scrub with Poultry Sanitiser and Egg Wash, which will help to further eliminate bacteria.
Top Tip: Avoid using newspaper and straw for bedding as these materials soak up moisture increasing dampness, making the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria. Instead, try Shredded Hemp Bedding, you may find this keeps the coop much dryer for longer.
First Aid for Feathered Friends
During winter months you may find chickens seem more susceptible to minor wounds, cuts, abrasions and illness. All chicken owners should have a first aid kit handy at all times to help you deal with minor problems, although if in doubt you should seek veterinary advice.
Examining your chickens regularly can help you to know what is normal and to identify problems early. Nettex Poultry eggsperts recommend that your first aid kit includes:
- A wound care product such as Nettex Poultry Wound Care Spray to help clean minor wounds
- A vitamin supplement such as Nettex Poultry Vit Boost Tonic to help support your chickens during times of stress.
- A sanitiser spray such as Nettex Poultry Sanitiser and Egg Wash to clean any equipment.
- An Anti-feather pecking spray such as Nettex Poultry Anti-Feather Pecking Spray to deter pecking and feather pulling.
- An energy supplement such as Nettex Poultry Power Drops to support weak, ill and lethargic chickens.
Keeping Hens Zen
Feather pecking is a common issue amongst backyard chickens. There could be many reasons why your chickens are pecking each other and whilst feather pecking and bullying are year-round issues they can worsen in winter. There are, however, measures you can take to reduce this undesirable behaviour.
It could be caused by a possible mite or lice infestation, stress behaviour when new birds are introduced to your flock, or if there is not enough room in the coop, or not enough feeders and drinkers. Visible cuts or wounds can also attract chickens and increase this behaviour, so it is important to prevent first and act fast if wounds occur.
Firstly, take a look at their environment, you should have at least one feeder and one drinker for every 4 birds or less and as said above at least 1 sq meter of space for each bird. It may also be because one of the chickens is bullying the others, trying to establish or disrupt the pecking order. Regular health checks will ensure you know what is “normal” for your chickens and help you identify any changes quickly. Additionally, observing your flock quietly will help you to identify any bullying behaviour.
Remedy any of these factors first then look at adding some ‘Cage enrichment’, which can be a good idea to help discourage bullying and improve the happiness of your flock but interest in toys is generally short-lived, they should be used for short periods and swapped regularly. Dust baths, perches, flower pots to jump on, piles of leaves and bits of turf to pick over can be better ways of enriching their environment and limiting boredom that can result into pecking.
If, after checking space and drinkers you still have a pecking problem, consider popping the bully bird into a broody cage (with food and water) inside the run for a couple of days to reset the pecking order. If that doesn’t work you may need to use Nettex Poultry Anti-Feather Pecking Spray. This deterrent spray has a strong odour and foul taste to help discourage biting, pecking, and cannibalism. It also contains antibacterial agents that will help cleanse minor skin wounds and support the healing process.
For more information follow @NettexPoultry on Instagram and Facebook for regular cluck dates and eggspert advice.