Moulting chickens? We’re here to help!

Don’t panic if you find your chickens are moulting, they go through several moults in their lifetime naturally, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 “It may become apparent that they look withdrawn, paler in the face and will possibly have stopped laying eggs so it is essential to support them through this difficult period with high-quality nutrition alongside vitamin tonics or powdered minerals. 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.

  • During moulting your chickens may benefit from some extra powdered Biotin as this also contains the ‘building block nutrients’ for forming feathers
  • It can also be advised to add a liquid vitamin tonic to their water everyday during the moulting period.
  • A vitamin tonic can help support condition, and B vitamins help to manage stress levels.

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”.

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.

Find your closest store here and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to help recommend the best products for your feathered friends.




The Chainsaw Promotion with Free Accessories

STIHL’s famous chainsaw promotion is back! Available from our machinery depots from the end of September, you will receive free STIHL accessories worth up to £87 when you buy selected chainsaws. Find our machinery depots Here:

Buy either the MS 180, MS 181, MSA 160 C-BQ or MSA 200 C-BQ chainsaws and you’ll receive a filing kit, the ADVANCE MS Ergo gloves and a pair of clear contrast goggles.Or if you are looking for a bigger saw, buy either the MS 211, MS 231 or the MS 251 and you’ll receive the filing kit, the ADVANCE MS Ergo gloves, a pair of clear contrast goggles, plus one of our forestry axes.

These chainsaw models are ideal for domestic use in and around the garden. They make maintaining small trees and bushes a piece of cake and if you have your own log-burning stove, these machines are perfect for sawing your own firewood.
You also have the choice of either petrol or battery-powered machines, with the MSA 160 and MSA 200 saws featuring in the promotion. These two chainsaws are part of our PRO Cordless range with batteries that feature intelligent electronics and boast impressive run times. You can get up to 42 minutes run time with the MSA 160 C-BQ and the recommended AP 200 battery. Alternatively if you need a bit more power from your chainsaw, the MSA 200 C-BQ delivers 44% more cutting power than the MSA 160, but with the same low noise levels and a run time of up to 45 minutes with the recommended AP 300 battery.
Or if petrol is more your thing, the MS 180, MS 181, MS 211, MS 231 and MS 251 all have economical 2-MIX engines and are great for property maintenance.

The MS 181, MS 211, MS 231 and MS 251 chainsaws are all also available in C-BE versions. These versions have additional comfort features like our ErgoStart technology, which means the saw is almost effortless to start. They also have Quick Chain Tensioning so that you can tension the chain quickly and easily without tools.
And the free of charge accessories are just the ticket to help you to get the most out of your new chainsaw. The filing kit is a must-have accessory for any chainsaw user – a sharp chain is essential to keep your saw performing at its best.

The ADVANCE MS Ergo gloves, with leather palms and breathable material, and the clear contrast goggles are both comfortable to wear, and are an important part of the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit you should be wearing when using a chainsaw. Check out our handy guide to PPE or speak with your local STIHL dealer to find out what else you should be wearing when operating a chainsaw.
Finally, the forestry axe makes short work of splitting timber up to 30cm long – perfect to load the wood-store for winter.
So what are you waiting for? Visit your local Carrs Billington Machinery Depot today for expert advice, a brand new chainsaw and free accessories!
Terms and conditions
1. The Promotion will run for a limited time only, opening on 24 September 2018 and closing at midnight on 14 December 2018.
2. The promoter of this Chainsaw promotion is ANDREAS STIHL Ltd. STIHL House, Stanhope Road, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YT, UK.
3. The Promotion is subject to availability.
4. The Promotion will be held at participating dealers only.
5. The Promotion is only applicable with the purchase of MSA 160 C-BQ, MSA 200 C-BQ, MS 180, MS 181, MS 181 C-BE, MS 211, MS 211 C-BE, MS 231, MS 231 C-BE, MS 251 or MS 251 C-BE chainsaw models;
6. Participants will receive a filing kit, a pair of ADVANCE Ergo MS gloves, and a pair of clear contrast goggles worth £54 RRP with the purchase of an MSA 160 C-BQ, MSA 200 C-BQ, MS 180, MS 181 or a MS 181 C-BE.
7. Participants will receive a filing kit, a pair of ADVANCE Ergo MS gloves, a pair of clear contrast goggles and a forestry axe worth £87 RRP with the purchase of an MS 211, MS 211 C-BE, MS 231, MS 231 C-BE, MS 251 or MS 251 C-BE.
8. There is no cash, credit or other alternative offered for any of the Promotions.
9. There is no limit to the number of redemptions of this offer per household.
10. Participants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. Any information or instructions published on form part of the terms and conditions.
11. To be eligible to participate in the Promotion you must be a GB resident (including IOM or Channel Islands, excluding NI) aged 18 years or over.
12. ANDREAS STIHL Ltd. reserves the right to suspend, cancel or amend the Promotion and/or review and revise these terms and conditions at any time without giving prior notice and by continuing to take part in the Promotion subsequent to any revision of these terms and conditions, entrants shall be deemed to have agreed to any such new or amended terms.
13. By participating in this Promotion, you agree, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable laws to release and hold the Promoter harmless from any and all liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses or damages of any kind arising from participation in or in connection with the Promotion, including without limitation, awarding, acceptance, receipt, possession, use and/ or misuse of the Chainsaw Promotion. The above limitation of liability shall not apply to death or personal injury caused as a result of Promoter’s negligence.

Know the Facts – Liver Fluke

Liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica, is a highly pathogenic parasite which causes severe liver damage, especially in sheep, and can result in the sudden death of previously healthy animals. Millions of pounds are lost every year by livestock producers due to liver fluke with the cost of disease per affected animal noted as £6 per lamb and £90 per calf.1

Fluke lifecycle

All three stages of liver fluke damage the liver and can cause clinical disease and production losses. The lifecycle of the fluke has a portion outside of the animal and involves a mud snail which thrives in wetter areas.

It is therefore unsurprising after the prolonged above average weather experienced this summer that current guidance from the NADIS August parasite forecast predicts moderate risk in the north and west of Scotland, and low risk in all other regions. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be no, or limited, fluke across the country in autumn, so it is important to still remain vigilant.

Consider local factors

Control programmes should always take into account the farm history, topography, geographical location and the prevailing weather.

Even in years where disease challenge may be lower than normal, vigilance is still important, and special consideration should be placed on fixing any leaky water troughs, fencing off wet or boggy areas in fields and maintaining effective drainage to reduce snail habitats.

Sustainable liver fluke control
The four elements of sustainable liver fluke control are:

1. Pasture protection – to prevent liver fluke eggs reaching the pasture when snails are active
2. Pasture management – to reduce snail habitats and therefore reduce snail numbers
3. Grazing management – to avoid grazing high risk pastures with susceptible animals at high risk times of year
4. Strategic treatments for at risk animals – controlling the right stage of liver fluke, at the right time, using the right product.


For more information talk to our animal health specialists in store or check the NADIS fluke forecasts here.

1. EBLEX 2013, Economic Impact of Health and Welfare Issues in Beef Cattle and Sheep in England