Can chicks over-eat?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Pete F, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Pete F

    Pete F New Egg

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    I have 5 chicks, now 4 weeks old, and they seem to be doing fine. They are in the brooder during the night, but during the day they live outside in a temporary pen we move around the garden so they can scratch around. They love that, and in Australia the temperature during the day now is quite warm.

    They get lettuce a few times during the day, a few meal worms, but other than what they scratch up in the garden they're mainly on starter crumbles. For a "treat" I add water to turn it into a mash, which they go crazy for. So crazy in fact that one chick, a light Sussex, will eat like she's never seen food before, she pushes all the other birds out the way and eats to the point it feels like her crop is going to explode! I give them about half a table spoon of crumbles like this 4-6 times a day, especially before bed when they're in their brooder, but they also have the same feed (sans added water) available all the time in a feeder.

    She's now starting to grown larger than the other birds, unremarkably considering how much she eats! Is this ever a problem and can chicks ever over eat? On the other hand is this all just a good thing and lucky that she's eating so well? They are all feathering out now.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I have not heard of it being an issue for non-broiler chicks. My chicks have 24-7 access to food and water and they do just fine. Perhaps your little greedy guts loves the idea of satisfying her appetite faster with the mash, rather than when dry [​IMG]
     
  3. Pete F

    Pete F New Egg

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    She seems to eat a lot all the time! I guess the fact she's gaining size even faster than her sisters means all is well, but didn't know if growing too fast could cause an issue. I've heard it can with broilers like Cornish X, but presume with this breed if she's progressing and all that food is clearly going in to her size, then there's no reason to change what I'm doing.

    I did seperate her for a few minutes tonight, mainly to give the other birds half a chance, especially our little Australorp, who is significantly smaller than the other 4 and tends to get shoved aside by the bigger chicks. However it wasn't really fair on the Sussex to do that, and she was miserable for no good reason.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Your Light Sussex sounds like "she" could be a cockerel from the behavior and the growth pattern. Watch the comb, and if it starts turning reddish in the next two weeks, we'll know.

    Otherwise, no, this behavior is piggish but not particularly harmful. But if you are concerned about the other chicks getting pushed away from the feeder, add another feeder.
     
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  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Man, I couldn't keep up with that feeding schedule with my chicks or adults! Lettuce a few times a day, starter, wet crumbles 4-6 times a day...I'm not real sure what the reasoning is behind so much feeding but you're there and I'm not, so you do what works for you.

    All they really need is a good quality starter/grower and maybe a little scratch every couple of days as a treat. They are foraging, so I'm sure they're getting some nummies in the grass and dirt too. Additional grit probably isn't essential for them since they are likely ingesting plenty of little bits while they are out and about. Your little glutton isn't eating because she's hungry, she's eating because it's there. So if you were to cut back to a more relaxed diet for them with occasional treats, she'd likely barely notice, as long as she doesn't switch her food bullying into pushing everyone away from the regular feeders she'll get over it. I assume that since they are in the brooder at night they have a lamp and food available in there all night long too. That's also not necessary - they need a good, dark night's sleep just as much as they need food and water. Also the sooner you start weaning off the extra heat and let them acclimate, the sooner they go outside to live full time.

    To answer your question, yes, they can overfeed!! Many folks who process their birds for the table can tell you stories about finding excess fat deposits around internal organs, including the heart. So, just like us, they benefit from a healthy, well balanced diet.

    Edited to add: Welcome to BYC!
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  6. Pete F

    Pete F New Egg

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    Thanks for the replies. Hopefully she isn't a cockerel, no signs at all of it yet and she looks identical around the small comb she's developing as her 2 Sussex sisters. Other than her love of food, she doesn't show any other dominating signs around the other birds. She pushes the other birds away not so much as a power trip, but to get better access for herself. She eats differently to the other birds too, and they'll primarily "peck" at the mash (albeit quickly), whereas she tends more to "bite" the mash and even the crumble if she's hungry, to get a big mouthful each time, which she gets down fast!

    As far as the schedule, we have 2 small children so there's 4 of us involved. My wife works from home and I work a job where I'm away a lot, but therefore home a lot too. Feeding them is not so much about the calories per se, it's more getting them used to human contact as they're pets. In that regard the quantities aren't great (1 small lettuce leaf each time for example), but the number of positive interactions with us high. Most now will allow petting, obviously eat from our hands, and this Sussex will hop on to my lap for a bit of mash and a rub under her neck. They come running as fast as they can when called, which is remarkably quick when you see it in action! Each time we pick them up we try to follow with a positive experience for them food wise and the whole thing seems to be a good experience in creating very friendly birds.

    I'm surprised you say fat deposits could be a concern, as I don't see that being a factor at this stage. This food all seems to be going in to feathers and physical size. I'd be a lot more concerned about mature birds and wouldn't feed them this way if they weren't growing out. However I'd read that Cornish X for example can get too big too quickly if they eat too much, and that can affect them as different parts of their bodies just can't keep up.

    The brooder is on a thermostat and I've been decreasing the temperature each night by 0.5 degree C per night until it gets to ambient. The advantages are they get weened off the heat, and adjust ti ever increasing periods of darkness each night, as the light doesn't come on as often.They will go out in the coop, still in their brooder with the doors off, in the next few days and can then choose where they want to sleep there. I suspect it will still be in the brooder, but that's been "home" all their life so far. In a week or so the brooder will come out and they'll be on their own. The coop is insulated butt well ventilated, so it's quite cozy in there.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    can you post a pic of the bird in question, with a comparison chick in the shot?
     
  8. Pete F

    Pete F New Egg

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    Ok, will try to do so in the next few days.
     
  9. Pete F

    Pete F New Egg

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Ok here you go, she is a 31 day old Light Sussex.
     
  10. 1FlewOver

    1FlewOver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK....I just have to completely ignore what this thread is REALLY about....and I can't help myself!!!!

    Do chicks overeat??

    As soon as they get married.
     
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