Fall Chicken Care Tips For a Healthy Flock

fall chicken care tips

Getting ready for fall starts in the late summer. Fall chicken care thoughts begin to run through my head. Chilly weather will require some changes to routine, and buildings need to be checked for repairs. Using the days with pleasant weather to get these things done keeps us from repairing and scrambling during a storm. Are you preparing now? Here are some of the things we begin to do.

Health Check – Beak to Tail Chicken Checkup

Making sure that your individual flock members are ready to weather the upcoming changes is important. Some minor ailments can be treated successfully when found early. Are any chickens showing loose runny droppings? How about bony breast bones or crop issues? Is the flock eating a healthy whole grain organic layer feed? Quality ingredients help your backyard flock maintain a healthy digestive tract and resist parasites and other diseases.

Molting season has begun here. The flock requires an increase in protein during the feather regrowth period. You want to support this nutritionally with a well balanced feed and tasty supplements such as grubs, cooked meat scraps, and even scrambled eggs if you have any to spare. Help your feathered friends get fluffy before the snow falls and the temperature drops.

fall chicken care tips

What about Pumpkins and Chickens?

The facts about the health benefits of feeding pumpkin seeds and flesh might surprise you. We have all probably heard that pumpkin seed can help your birds repel internal parasites. While there is a tiny grain of truth to this and I have even said it before myself, there is more to the story.

Pumpkin seeds, in fact the whole pumpkin supplies a powerhouse of nutrients for the flock. Chickens love fresh pumpkin and it’s a great nutritional boost.

Pumpkins have a richly colored flesh that contains high levels of beta carotene. The beta carotene is the precursors to vitamin A. In addition, fresh pumpkin is a source of Vitamin C and E and contains most of the B complex vitamins.

Do Pumpkin Seeds Repel Internal Parasites?

Feeding pumpkins is a good part of fall chicken care And, if you can get a hold of some free pumpkins from neighbors or friends after the holidays, take them! If they haven’t been carved into jack o’ lanterns, they will store a long time in a cool area of your home or basement.

The seeds from the pumpkin are also packed with good nutrition. High in protein, pumpkin seeds are a smart choice for a chicken flock treat right in the midst of the fall molting season. Increasing protein during molt helps your birds grow in their glossy new feathers with less metabolic stress. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Fall Chicken Care Tips

Another theory on fresh pumpkin is the possibility that the seeds will help your chickens avoid an overload of intestinal worms. This is a partial truth, so be careful not to count on it. Especially if you have birds that are suffering with internal parasites.While the seeds of pumpkin and other squash contains cucurbitacin which acts as a paralytic agent on tapeworms and round worms, it is a very mild treatment. In a mild intestinal worm situation, the pumpkin seeds may be enough to paralyze the worms so they can be excreted. But don’t count on it. In order to use the pumpkin seeds most effectively, a tincture should be prepared, and then used to dose each animal by adding it to the water.

Feed Healthy High Protein Treats as Part of Fall Chicken Care

Meal Worms are always a welcome treat and these little goodies are bringing a protein punch. Great for helping your chickens recover quickly after a hard molt and a great training tool. Chickens will cooperate better when meal worms are involved!

Seed blocks, peanut butter treats and other commercially available boredom busters are good to keep on hand for times when the chickens have to be cooped up. If you don’t normally purchase scratch grain, fall and winter are a good time to have some on hand. I feed a small amount to my flock in the evening during cold weather.

The key is to keep the amount of scratch or seed treats at a treat level. This should not become a major part of your chickens’ diet. Seeds are high in fats and can lead to obesity and internal fat deposits. Use the treats as a tool, to get the flock to go where you need them to go. It’s a great incentive for getting the chickens to go to the coop in the evening.

Coop Upkeep for Fall and Winter

Now that you have taken care of buying lots of pumpkins and treats for the fall and winter, what other fall chicken care steps should you take?

chicken on a nest

Managing the Annual Molt Mess

Molting makes the dust in the coop even messier. I recommend doing a thorough coop cleaning while the weather is still nice. Scrape out old bedding. Inspect for rodent holes, insect evidence, and wet areas. Take care of any structural problems now so you don’t have to take care of building maintenance during a winter storm.

  • Clean the roost bars and treat with DE powder (Diatomaceous Earth) . The DE powder will kill off any mites trying to take up residence on the roost bars. Another great product for pest control is First Saturday Lime. It is safe for children, pets, and your feathered friends.
  • Check for leaks in the roof, or other parts of the building. While you are checking for leaks, also check that your ventilation is optimal. Ventilation refers to the air flow circulating air inside the coop and keeping it from becoming stagnant. Ventilation is very important in winter because stagnant air can also lead to moisture collection. Moisture in the presence of sub freezing temperatures can lead to frost bite on combs, wattles and feet. 
Fall chicken care tips

Decisions about Heat and  Additional Light

I can’t speak about every area of the country but I will say this. Chickens are extremely cold hardy. If the coop is draft free, has good roof ventilation, can be closed securely at night and during storms, there is little chance that you need additional heat. After the chickens go through the molting, they grow in healthy new feathers and downy under feathers for winter. Chickens will go to roost at night, fluff up their feathers and cover their feet on the roost bar.

Chickens are built for cold weather

It is amazing to me, how much heat is generated by my chickens during the night. The coop is usually very comfortable inside when I arrive in the morning. The chickens are happy and there is less chance of fire. Only once in our chicken raising have we used additional heat. Now, perhaps you live in a particularly frigid area during the winter. I can’t make this decision for you. Draft free goes a long way to keeping the chickens warm enough. Don’t rush to heat the coop just because you are feeling the chill of winter.

Sidenote: Have you tried brooding chicks in late summer and fall? Read more in this post : The Best Time to Start Chicks

Another thing to consider is what happens during a power outage. If your chickens have not been allowed to acclimate to the seasonal change in temperature, they are more likely to succumb to cold if it occurs suddenly.

fall chicken care tips

Should Lights be Added to the Coop?

Adding light may in fact keep the hens laying eggs longer into the winter. I prefer to let them have a natural rest. We use lights only for a short time in the evening while we are cleaning up and feeding/watering the birds for the night. This extends their light by possibly an hour and is not really a factor in their egg laying. Naturally, egg laying slows down during the cold, darker months. This gives the hens a rest and allows energy to be used for warmth. I still collect enough eggs for our use during the winter.

As your hens age, they may lay very infrequently during the winter months. This is normal. If you can add more chickens in the spring, your young layers will carry you through the winter with enough fresh eggs.

Fall Chicken Care – Keeping Fresh Water Available

If your coop is a distance away from your home as ours is, you will need to plan ahead. Empty the hose after each use. Filling containers of water to keep at home will help you avoid frozen water when you are feeding in the morning. I refill gallon jugs and sit them by my back door. In the morning, I grab the water jugs and refill the water bowls with room temperature water from home. The chickens all run to get a warm drink!

With just some foresight and minor upkeep, repair and fall chicken care, you, your chickens and the coop will be ready for winter weather.

Grubs and Mealworms Can Help with Molting


Chickens love grubs and mealworms. Feeding these high protein dried insect treats during molting, increases the protein fed to the flock. Increasing the protein is one of the positive things you can do to help the chickens recover quickly and easily from the hard, seasonal, fall molt. Take a look at some of the facts about molting in chickens and why feeding grubs and mealworms to the birds is so beneficial.

What is Molt in Chickens?

During the seasonal or yearly molt, your chicken will lose a large percentage of her feathers and actually look rather depleted and unwell. Some chickens weather this phenomenon easier than others. Different years can hit the same hen with different strengths of molting.

grubs and mealworms

The first molt a chicken encounters is in their first few months of life. The chickens will go through this “baby” molt and lose the baby feathers, sometime after the first three months. Mostly this molt is seen as piles of downy feathers gathering in the corners of the coop. The chickens don’t look as war torn as their older coop mates, who are going through a full molt. The second molt in your chickens life occurs between 10 to 12 weeks of age. Often called the juvenile molt, the chickens will lose the baby feathers and begin to grow in the first grown up chicken feathers, getting  them ready for winter. At this stage your juvenile chicks are still eating a starter ration, typically higher in protein, so their nutritional needs are being met.

As the days begin to shorten, after the Summer Solstice, the first molt will be triggered in your older chickens. Molting as an adult chicken is necessary as they prepare for winter. Having broken, damaged, dirty and old feathers is not optimal for the cold weather. Healthy feathers are used to keep the chickens warm. Molt typically begins to show on the head and neck and proceed down the sides and back of the chicken. Not all chickens follow the typical pattern or we notice the molting once it has reached the back and sides of the bird. Hens and roosters both have a seasonal molt.

Why does Molting Affect Egg Production 

Feathers and eggs are both high in protein. The chickens cannot keep up with the demand and the egg production will go on standby until the molt and recovery are over. Once the hen has regrown her feathers and is fully able, egg production will begin again. Although, this is often the same time winter and lower egg production due to less daylight. Have no fear. The molt, increased protein and rest period will have your hens laying strongly when spring arrives.

How Can We Help The Chickens Recover 

Before the molt even begins, make sure your chickens are in the best physical condition. If you follow a natural worming protocol, continue with that as the summer winds down. This is not the time for any other stress factor to rear it’s ugly head. Making sure that your flock is receiving the best level of nutrients will keep them in good health during molting.

Feeding increased protein levels during molting can strengthen the recovery and feather growth. This can be easily handled by supplementing the regular layer ration with treats that are high in protein. 

grubs and mealworms

Tasty Grubs to the Rescue!

A delicious and nutritious way to keep the flock happy and increase their protein intake is to feed grubs and mealworms. The folks from Tasty Worms offered me a bag of dehydrated grubs to give to my flock this summer and fall. I can, without a doubt, tell you that the flock appreciates that I said yes to the offer. I have been feeding a treat of Tasty Grubs the last two weeks. Although we are not in full molt yet, a few of the chickens are starting to show feather loss. Not only do the Tasty Grubs smell good, you see from this photo, the chickens went crazy for the taste. 

grubs and mealworms

I was told by TastyGrubs representative that the chickens might need to get used to Tasty Grubs. Not these chickens! They were so excited and dove right into the bowl. I had to pick up the bowl and distribute the worms around the yard to get them to slow down.

I wondered if it was just the fact that Tasty Grubs are a new product for us to give as a treat. The excitement over the Tasty Grubs continued with each time they have the grubs. Meal worms have been a favorite treat for many years. Feeding grubs and mealworms is part of my usual spoiling of the flock. After all, I want my chickens to stay healthy and to know that I bring good things. As we head into molting season, I will be grabbing the grubs and mealworms as I head up the hill to the poultry coops. Even our picky small flock of ducks enjoys the treat of grubs and mealworms on occasion. Ducks molt too!

Grubs and mealworms

The chickens in coop 2 are almost to laying age. They also enjoy a snack of grubs!

Why Choose Tasty Grubs?

Tasty Grubs are the newest product from Tastyworms.com. The guaranteed analysis for Tasty Grubs is Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 36%, Fat 31%, Calcium 4%, Phosphorous .67%, Moisture 9%.

Not only a good source of protein, but Calcium and Phosphorus for health and egg production, too. Made in the USA, and no stabilizers, preservatives or other additives find their way into Tasty Grubs.

Other Ways to Help the Flock During Molt

Don’t handle molting chickens too often. The pin feathers that are growing in are uncomfortable. Chickens actually feel some pain when picked up during molt. Handle the molting chickens only when necessary. 

Stick to the normal routine as much as possible. Switching routines causes stress, as does lack of water, poor nutrition, extreme heat or cold. Broody hens that are also molting are going through a double stressful situation. Often a broody hen will trigger molt just by the lowered food and water intake she has during egg setting.

Reduce or eliminate stress from other sources. If you know that the family dog sniffing around the coop causes an upset, keep the dog away from the coop area. Be extra vigilant against predators at this time of year. Fox and raccoon are hunting, to put on weight for the winter. An attempted attack at this time will lead to an even higher level of anxiety in the coop. 

grubs and mealworms

 A huge benefit of Tasty Grubs, dried black solider fly larvae, compared to others who are trying to produce their own version. They do not  use any manure or garbage to feed our black solider flies. These flies will eat just about anything, as many flies do. Some companies will cut costs and collect food from dumpsters or manure from farms to feed the supply. But not Tasty Grubs! They are feed pre-consumer food residuals (distillers grains, cookie meal) No bovine or ovine ingredients. No stabilizers, preservatives or other additives are added. All natural, dried fly larvae. Sounds almost appetizing doesn’t it? 
grubs and mealworms
I received no monetary compensation for conducting the taste test review with my flock of chickens. I was given a free bag of Tasty Grubs to use for this purpose. It has been a pleasure to work with the company and I want to say thanks for allowing my flock to experience this yummy treat.

grubs and mealworms

Can feeding grubs and mealworms help your chickens get through a molt faster?

grubs and mealworms

For more information on Molting check this post