Originally Posted by Lobzi
OK, well then it would be unusual not to find fat? I guess Im not clear on what is normal.
This one was under a year but should have been laying or ready to lay. I didnt find any evidence of ovum development though.
I give them treats of mealworms and sometimes I though them raisins. They normal diet is wild bird seed which they eat. They will not eat the manufactured feed.
I also cook for them, putting out scrambled egg with rice and sometime they get to clean chicken bones when I cook a store-bought chicken. That is rare though.
I also bake a special bread for them that consists of ground day old bagels and cooked fruit slurry.
They normal diet is wild bird seed which they eat. They will not eat the manufactured feed.
This is your problem right here.
Fat is normal. All mature laying hens should have a layer of fat encasing the gizzard and beneath the skin of the abdomen. The amount will vary by hen, but it should be there.
Wild bird seed cannot sustain chickens healthfully. It will keep them alive, sure, but I would expect to see a significantly shortened lifespan, heavily reduced laying ability, and most likely severely underweight birds. I would suspect internal damage as well. Do you have any photos from the autopsy? How did her liver look? Her lungs? He kidneys? How about her spleen?
The most common type of misfeeding occurs because people don't understand the difference between scratch and feed, and so they feed scratch as a complete ration. This usually ends in birds with decent, but still underdeveloped muscle, and an absolute ton of fat. These birds are almost always very obese. One time, at work, I had a woman bring in the victim of a dog attack for me to look at, a beauitful New Hampshire hen. She had a nasty tear in the skin of her back, and when I pulled the feathers back to look, I was greeted by bright yellow. Lo and behold, this hen must have had a good 1/4 inch of fat on her back. I'd never even seen a chicken with fat on it's back prior to this. It just shouldn't occur. But here one was. I asked the owner what she was feeding them; she answered "scratch."
Wild bird seed is formulated differently. It's got less fat. It's still extremely low in protein; so birds fed on solely bird seed (and treats) will have the same undeveloped muscle and body of birds fed on scratch. They will, however, lack the extreme fat of a scratch-fed hen and indeed most fat whatsoever that a hen fed on an appropriate feed will have.
Another point. As I mentioned before, people sometimes bring their mysteriously sick birds to my workplace to be examined, if they don't want to drop the cash on a vet visit. One of the hazards of working at a chicken shop, I suppose. I would say that half, if not more, of the owners of these sick birds, when asked what they were feeding them, answered either "scratch", "wild bird seed", or "scraps". The birds themselves have displayed a wide variety of issues, from ascites to lethargy to what sounded like CRD. Birds who aren't fed an appropriate diet just aren't as healthy; they won't be as productive or as vigorous, and their immunity against any disease which may enter the flock will be very poor. That's why half the birds I see are the birds fed improperly; they're just far more likely to succumb to these issues because they don't have the proper energy or strength to overcome it.
I would really suggest moving them to a commercial grower crumble ration (around 18% protein). If they won't eat one brand, shop around for another. At this point, they need the grower because chances are they are all underweight. Feeding the wrong nutrition can cause starvation the same way feeding them nothing at all can. The grower will help bulk them up. If they refuse to eat for a day or two, that's what has to happen. You can put their treats directly in their feeder to encourage them to eat, but don't feed many treats during the initial transition as we want them hungry enough to be willing to eat. They will eventually consume the commercial feed. After feeding out one bag of grower, they should be ready for a laying feed (16% protein). After a few months on an appropriate feed you should begin to see good healthy fat layers (fat packs as I call them) forming on the abdomens on your birds, and the muscle of their breast should thicken up as well.