Managing the Molt
The molt is one of the most demanding periods for our birds. After breeding, incubating and feeding the chicks the birds start molting on a bad timing, meaning they already are tired!
The energy needed for a proper molt is needed for the formation of new feathers, and knowing this constitutes around 20 to 30% of their body weight, I don’t need to tell you how much energy is needed for this. In fact the molt is the first step towards a good breeding season next year! It has been proven feathers produced at daytime are of better quality as to feathers produced at night, when the birds are fasting and there is no continuous apport of energy. Some fanciers make a quick drop in daylight hours regimen after breeding, but let us be cautious with this as impaired feather quality can pop up. Remember energy needs at peak molt period is about 20% higher as to other periods.
Therefore trying to get birds through the molt only on seed and water is almost criminal.
So, what should we do?
First of all providing a good quality softfood every day, with the same protein level as during the breeding season. Also birds have higher needs of the amino acids methionine and cysteine for proper building of new feather, for which we can use some supplement like B-Chol or Sedochol.
Over here we give softfood every day, one day supplemented with sprouted seeds, the other day with some broccoli and some wild seeds.
We also have to pay attention not to stress the birds, so keep manipulating the birds at low level, also as to starting too soon with show training, a mistake often made.
Vitamins are given by us every other day, as some birds do not eat softfood but have to drink. Acidification of the drinking water is done twice a week with products like apple cider vinegar or Vior.
As to disease this is a very critical period, as sick birds in this time of the year can quickly be fatal.
A preventive cure with Baycox for three days, 3 ml/L can be given.
Also keep a close eye as to mites and give the birds a drop of the Frontline spray in the neck.
As to get some better colour one can help mother Nature by providing the right building blocks. A supplement containing enough copper, zinc and iron improves the eumelanin formation, and the cysteine supplement favours the phaeomelanin formation. Carotenoids from spirulina, pollen or marigolds can enhance the yellow colour, but have to be used with caution as artificial colouring is forbidden in Borders.
As the molt is almost finished we do lower the protein level of our softfood increasing the amount of carbohydrates, with the addition of a vitamin B complex which helps in getting a better closed feather coat.
Don’t forget to provide a bath on a regular base, but don’t leave the baths on for too long as the birds might drink contaminated water. We provide baths but once the last bath is provided we already start taking away the first ones, don’t panic if some birds don’t bathe, after a few times they know to hurry up.
In conclusion, take good care of your birds in the molt and you will be rewarded!
Dr Jan Vanderborght firstname.lastname@example.org