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Chicken weight question...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey there! Recently weighed my flock and not one of them is at 6 lbs. I have two of each of the following: BA, RIR (one roo), GL Wyandotte, Brahma, BPR, as well as one EE, and one NHR. They're all 24 weeks and only the BPRs and a RIR laying. They get scratch and peck organic layer, sprouts, additional calcium supplements, and fermented grower feed to keep the protein up. Until two weeks ago, they had access to a huge vegetable garden but the temps finally dropped and the garden was turned over. They free-range most of the day and still have access to greens. The rooster is only coming in around 5 lbs 12 oz and the hens are averaging just shy of 5, with one Wyandotte at 3 lbs 14oz. They're not skinny by any means, my BAs and Brahmas are big fatties but are only 5 lbs ~5oz each. Is this a typical weight for 24wk old layers?? I keep reading that they should be at weight by laying age. Any thoughts? TYIA
post #2 of 8

Hatchery birds do not get as big as birds from show quality lines. Hatcheries breed for production, that generally means smaller and lighter frames.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by junebuggena View Post

Hatchery birds do not get as big as birds from show quality lines. Hatcheries breed for production, that generally means smaller and lighter frames.

Thanks, I didn't know that! I thought I was doing something wrong
post #4 of 8
My thoughts are that June is right. Hatchery chicks are mass produced at a nice price so the birds are somewhat like show quality chickens. Their mass breeding methods do not lend themselves to producing chickens that align very closely with the SOP. To get that you need a breeder that is breeding to the SOP and carefully selecting which rooster and hens get to mate. Those chickens will cost you more. This does not just apply to size. This applies to body shape, eye color, purity of color, or anything else called for in the SOP. Some hatcheries are better than others but their mass production methods will not match a breeder that knows what they are doing.

I’m not familiar with the internal workings of every hatchery here in the US, but I’m pretty sure some use what the chickens should weigh in their advertising while others actually weigh their own chickens. You’ll see different hatcheries give different weights for the same breed.

There is another factor too, that’s the way you feed them. The way you are feeding them sounds great to me by the way, but chicks that will be show chickens are generally fed a special diet so they grow bigger and have nicer feathers than our chickens. A big part of that is genetics but part is diet too. Diet is one of the many reasons show chickens cost more than hatchery chickens. They just cost more to produce, let alone a lot more work. Some people that raise show quality chickens do let them forage for some of their food, but once the special ones are identified they normally get treated special. Everybody does things differently.

Letting your chickens free range lets them control to a large extent the diet they will eat. Part of this depends on the quality of forage you have, but birds that forage a lot tend to not eat a really high protein content diet. When you let them forage you lose your ability to micromanage their diet.

It sounds like you are raising yours like backyard chickens and that they have a great life. Unless you really want the larger chickens, I don’t see that you have anything to worry about.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
They're definitely backyard chickens! We are what we eat so, they're spoiled lol My concern for their weight stems from reading about their weight affecting egg production on a few extension sites. Sounds like It's a little late to salvage the situation since they've already begun laying... But as long as they're healthy, I guess I'll settle for a medium egg over a large one. 🙂
post #6 of 8

Weight can affect laying ability if they are overweight. Fat deposits are usually in the hind region, and too much can make passing eggs difficult. If they have access to a balanced feed, plenty of room to range, and aren't fed too much scratch, they likely won't get too fat.

As far as egg size goes, pullet eggs start out small and will gradually increase in size. Eggs will also get bigger after each seasonal/fall molt.

post #7 of 8
Whether they are obese or underweight for their frame can effect egg laying. Size is not nearly as important. The commercial egg laying hybrids are fairly small yet lay a fairly large egg practically every day.

Before a hen starts laying she adds some extra fat. A lot of this is in the pelvic region (known as a fat pad) but some is kind of scattered all over. If you butcher hens that are laying you will definitely see this. Even hens that are not laying generally have more fat than a rooster.

This fat is there for a reason. When a hen goes broody she does not need to get off the nest much to eat and drink. She mostly lives off this excess fat. Even if a hen never goes broody she will still build up some excess fat before she starts to lay just in case.

It is possible for a hen to get really obese. Obesity is not healthy. It is extremely unlikely yours are going to get obese with as much free ranging as they do. Not only do they get exercise they are going to balance their diet fairly well with that forage.

There can be another problem if hens are fed too rich a diet, especially protein rich. Too much protein can cause a hen to release extra yolks to start eggs. If the extra yolk is released at the same time as the other, you might get a double yolked egg. If it is a little later you might get two eggs in one day. The hen only makes a certain amount of certain materials for the eggs in a day, so the second egg could be weird, maybe small, maybe soft-shelled or even shell-less. If two eggs are in the shell gland at the same time they can get some really funny markings on them. Again with yours foraging you are extremely unlikely to have this problem on a regular basis. An occasional hick-up is not cause for concern. It can happen to any of them.

On the other hand if a hen does not eat a good enough diet she can’t build up enough fat to lay eggs. That condition is really rare but it is possible. You feed yours better than I feed mine and when mine are laying they normally lay a lot of eggs, several days straight before they take a day off, then they do it again. In my opinion, a hen that spends a fair amount of her time chasing creepy crawlies and scratching in things you don’t want to think about is a healthy productive hen, especially if she is offered the nice things you feed her.

One downside for some people is that the more protein they at the bigger the egg they lay. My hens don’t lay double extra huge eggs, they lay a lot of decent sized eggs that are a healthy size for them to lay and that produce a nice healthy chick when I hatch them. I’m OK with that. I’ll exaggerate to make the point. Think of a woman giving natural birth to a 10 pound baby versus a 7 pound baby. My wife gave natural birth to a 10-1/2 pound baby. She was fine afterwards and so was he but she would not recommend that to anyone.

As clearly as I can say it, I think you are doing fine.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I was actually reading that the early weight of the bird directly and positively correlates with the weight of the eggs both short and long term as well as the production success, which is also why I said I am a little late on a remedy. Not necessarily fat but total mass. I guess I'll have to work on this for next time
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/460/management-and-control-of-egg-size/
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