Am I not feeding enough? Or is this normal?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by suki'smom, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. suki'smom

    suki'smom Songster

    Aug 4, 2011
    Central Wisconsin
    My 34 3 month old birds all seem to have a fairly prominent breast bone. I wouldnt say they are emaciated, I can feel meat on them, but it is a far cry from what I would consider a full breast. Is this normal for growing birds, or am I not feeding enough. I feed once a day, in the morning. They get both their trays filled (think two and a half coffee cans worth) with grower then are let out to free range and I give them one scoop of my scratch mix (peanuts, boss, cracked corn, buckwheat, oat middlings). By the next morning their trays are bare and the area around the trays are picked clean, so I fill them again. I do this on purpose so they dont waste their feed and clean up after themselves. Should I feed more? They free range 4-5 hours a day, often times more. I'm getting a little worried as it is already frosting here in central Wisconsin and my babies are molting. I would feel better if they had more meat on them to keep them warm.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  2. BrattishTaz

    BrattishTaz Roo Magnet

    Jan 8, 2011
    Tampa Area, Florida
    I was thinking the same thing about mine. They eat like pigs, do not have worms, are seemingly very healthy but they seemed thin. I also freerange and suspect they are burning their calories. I started alternating feed, one bag regular feed followed by one bag of chick starter, then back to regular. They seem to have beefed up a bit now. I know my big buff Orpington really filled out and I am convinced his feathers even looked better (he is moulting now though).
  3. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Songster

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Mine will 'peck at stuff' all day. But they obtain their most calories early early morning and late afternoon (think 2hrs before sunset).

    I have a pvc feeder in the coop that I make sure is topped off every night - and by mid-morning (egg collecting time), it's down by 1/2 for my 6 Black Java pullets. They're using about 20#'s of feed a week - or about 1/2# per pullet per day. This seems like a lot - mine are now full size at 6mo - but considering each pullet is well over 6#'s herself...well...they eat!

    Try feeding a bit of extra protein, that should help bulk them up. Try - mealworms (raise 'em yourself, it's easy, cheap, and the chickens LOVE them!), scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt. Those are some of the main extra sources which helped bulk up my chicks. Yes, they did have a 'scrawny' phase. Doesn't last long if you add extra protein to help push them over the hump.
  4. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    well the deal here is the fact that these birds will lay on all their bone growth and height first then fill out later. chickens develop their structure first, then get some meat to their bones. Depending on the breed these vary a bit. So I wouldn't worry at this point if plenty of food is at hand they are eating well. they are growing normal
  5. kjfrogster41

    kjfrogster41 In the Brooder

    Jul 30, 2011
    Belfast, ME
    I live with my chickens in Maine. It's beginning to get a bit chilly. My girls are just 9 weeks old and growing like mad. Here's the deal, they are FAT, also muscular, but FAT but very active. In the A.M. I feed them their treats: mealworms, fresh corn, rice (cooked), oat grits and now suet. They inhale that and then go about pecking for what ever is laying around the pen and eating their grow/layer mash. Later in the day they will be out sort of free ranging, but need to be in an enclosed tractor to keep them safe from predators. In the evening, a couple of hours before sunset, they get their second treats for the day, similar to the morning but with variations including some of our leftovers. Between the treats they also have access to grow/layer mash which they consume off and on as they desire. Am I overfeeding? Is that ever a problem? I just am concerned that they have enough fat to help keep them warm over the winter months.[​IMG]
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:Yes, indeed this is true!

    They feel like skinny teenagers, because they are! They go through a skinny stage and then fill out.
  7. pinkwindsong

    pinkwindsong Songster

    Mar 18, 2011
    Laurens SC
    had the same thing with my girls.. they seamed thin to me especialy in the breast. but then they were growing up and out at the same time and getting their adult bodies. and are now filling in with more weight. [​IMG]

    your like me I want them full and meaty, and I want my eggs now!l.. [​IMG] unfortuanlty my girls are ona different schedual and i have to go with what they want and are ready for.. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    its that whole the watched pot never boils.. hahah

    good luck and patience )O(
  8. DaddyChicken

    DaddyChicken In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2011
    Byron, GA
    It's funny, I have wondered the same thing about my chickens. They are always eating but they are tall and thin looking. "Skinny teenagers" is a good comparison.
  9. Animalian

    Animalian Songster

    Jun 18, 2011
    All of mine are the same and two are 2 1/2 years old. I feel muscle but I do worry that the their breast bones stick out too much.

    They are wormed regularly, are free ranged and have access to pelleted food all day, I breed meal worms for them and they'll get some of those twice a week, they 'finish off' the dogs bones, get oats with milk and/or fresh corn (or fruit depends on season) and table scraps every day. They also get yogurt, cottage cheese etc

    They have bright red combs, glossy, thick feathers and the only illness I ever had was a prolapse.

    Maybe it's because they get so much exercise, or that they normally lay 5-6 eggs a week each. I have heard of really good layers having a lighter body weight....
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  10. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    If you ration feed, as I do, you should feed heavy in the morning. If the feed trays are empty in the afternoon, you know they need a bit of additional feed in the afternoon.
    Ration feeding requires more "hands on" observation and management.

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