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thin hens?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey All,

 

I guess I'm feeling paranoid.  I've been at this about 3 years now.  My birds just feel thin whenever I put hands on them.  How does one tell if they are too thin?  I had a RIR just basically drop dead in the yard.  I was recovering from arm surgery and thus a necropsy was out of the question.  When I went to remove the body, she felt stick thin to me.  I know I don't want fat laying hens.  I get an avg of 20 eggs daily from 32 hens of assorted breeds/ages.  I currently have 3 roosters but #3 is heading for the freezer next week.  I don't actually need him and he's turning into a butt plus I am starting to see a bit of feather wear on a few hens.  I feel like my ladies are pretty healthy, but would like to know how to determine if they are in fact too thin.  I worm in the winter, not during peak egg laying.

 

Thanks

Alice

post #2 of 9
Do you have photos of them?
What percentage protein is your feed?
Four lovely hens : An Exbattery Hen, a Lavender Araucana, a Wheaten Marans and a Gold Laced Frizzle Polish
Two dogs and four cats.
If you want to read my chicken adventure, here it is :
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/947562/my-story-our-experience-join-me-on-my-adventure.
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Four lovely hens : An Exbattery Hen, a Lavender Araucana, a Wheaten Marans and a Gold Laced Frizzle Polish
Two dogs and four cats.
If you want to read my chicken adventure, here it is :
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/947562/my-story-our-experience-join-me-on-my-adventure.
Reply
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Pics I can work on. They eat fermented 18 percent layer although when it's hot I mix in some game bird. Grit and oyster shell are freely available

Alice
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Pics suck. These birds all have full crops and act like they are always hungry. These are not super friendly birds so they don't get handled a lot but 1st pic is my oldest hen

Thanks
[IMG][IMG]
post #5 of 9
What is the pecking order like? Is there much bullying? If so, the weaker hens might not be getting enough to eat.

Aside from that idea, I can see no reason why your birds would be thin. They look healthy on the photo and you are giving them good food.
Four lovely hens : An Exbattery Hen, a Lavender Araucana, a Wheaten Marans and a Gold Laced Frizzle Polish
Two dogs and four cats.
If you want to read my chicken adventure, here it is :
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/947562/my-story-our-experience-join-me-on-my-adventure.
Reply
Four lovely hens : An Exbattery Hen, a Lavender Araucana, a Wheaten Marans and a Gold Laced Frizzle Polish
Two dogs and four cats.
If you want to read my chicken adventure, here it is :
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/947562/my-story-our-experience-join-me-on-my-adventure.
Reply
post #6 of 9

When rigor mortis has set in, they feel thinner to me, when I pick them up. 

 

I don't get this perfectly, but I try and feed just enough for the day, if there is a lot left over, then I feed less the next day, if there is nothing left, I feed a little more. In an established flock, that should be meeting their needs. You are feeding good feed, that should be fine.

 

If the hen was in fact too thin, it might also have been because she was getting ready to die. But even though the picture is small, those look like healthy hens to me, and I would not worry about it. You state that you have multi-ages, I have over the years, frequently had one just drop dead, when they get past 3 years of age. I have never had a necropsy done. Unless you get a pattern of hens dying off and lose several birds within days, I would just assume that it was just a normal end of life death.

 

Mrs K


Edited by Mrs. K - 3/31/16 at 9:54pm
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #7 of 9

Your flock certainly appears sleek and healthy. If they were suffering from malnutrition, they would have a much more motley appearance, a "ruffled" look. Layers are not meat birds where you want a meaty breast.

 

I suggest you weigh your birds. If they are averaging under three pounds, then you may have a problem, but those birds all look to be the average weight of three to five pounds for layers.

 

I doubt you really have the problem you may believe you have.

post #8 of 9

Weigh them. 

 

Most of your hens look like breeds that should be in the 4-6lb range. If they're there, you're good. 

 

Most folks don't really know what a laying hen should feel like. They see those massive breasted grocery store birds and think their hens should feel like that. Layers should have a keel bone you can feel, not rounded out with all that excess meat. 

 

If your birds are productive, active, feathers are in good condition, things like that, then they're healthy. 

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

Reply
post #9 of 9

"If your birds are productive, active, feathers are in good condition, things like that, then they're healthy. "

 

Excellent point - if they are laying regularly, they are fine.

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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