Chicken is losing weight

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by salmoninthebeak, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. salmoninthebeak

    salmoninthebeak New Egg

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    Nov 5, 2013
    We have 3 hens. I often let them rummage around our large yard with their coop door open, and access to their house.
    Awhile back I wasn't supervising as closely as I should have been and a predator disturbed the peace.
    I went to put them in the cage and they were MIA. Finally found 2 of them in the henhouse on the perch, but the 3rd bird was gone.
    ALOT of feathers were about, and my conclusion was that whatever had been there, left with her :(

    A couple of hours later my husband found the missing chicken, shell-shocked, standing in one of the gardens.

    She spent a couple of days in an inside plastic tub (didn't want the others finding blood or something and pecking her), lost a lot of feathers - and seemed to be in this state of confusion and shock for about 4 days.
    She is now back out with the other hens, acting like a hen (although none of them are laying yet, just getting to the age where they might start laying), but she looks like she has lost weight. The other two hens look fine.

    She had an injury under one of her wings, lost a ton of feathers, but now is using her wing normally, and interacts with the other hens normally.....

    (protein question here) --------> I read on another thread that feather growth requires protein. If this is in fact causing her to lose weight, the growth of the lost feathers, how do I her more protein ? Do I need to worry about only giving it to her and keeping the other 2 hens away? What kind of things could I be adding to her diet to help increase this.

    Other than that, could she have worms and not the other two hens? They eat the same things.

    I have been roasting pumpkins and squash and feeding them the seed mash. But other than that, all they eat is feed, with some meal worms once in awhile, and black sunflower seeds, once in awhile.

    Sorry so long-winded. Thanks in advance for any feedback!
     
  2. turtleguy

    turtleguy Out Of The Brooder

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    Could it be that the loss of feathers makes her look skinnier?
    On the other hand, it could be the shock of the predator, or an internal injury. Though I think the protein lack due to feather loss makes a lot of sense to me, I believe cracked corn increases protein, and cat food too. Though I've never tried and I don't know if it is true or safe for chickens I hope someone else jumps in with a better answer than mine.
    Good luck.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Is your feed layer or grower? They probably all have worms because they're foraging but a healthy bird can handle a light load and prosper. The attack may have weakened her to the point that the worms got a better hold. Normally, any parasite won't kill their host - that would be counterproductive for the parasite.
    Did you treat the wounds?
    For increased protein, it's easiest to just switch them to a higher protein feed. One can also add high protein things like sunflower seed, meat and fish scraps, canned tuna/mackerel, scrambled egg, yogurt, cottage cheese - get the gist?

    Since they haven't laid eggs yet they should be on a grower feed.

    I had a dog attack in one coop and didn't get an egg out of that coop for 2 months and they wouldn't even leave the coop for a week.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Good point about the lack of feathers making them look small. It's better to pick each bird up and feel their keel bones to see if there are differences.

    Good point about the protein and feather loss being connected. Feathers are about 90% protein so there is a strong correlation.

    Where I disagree is about the corn. Corn is very low in protein - normally below 10%. A non laying adult needs at least a 15% protein diet.
    Layers need 16-17%, young birds need at least 18% as do birds growing feathers. Adding corn to the diet cuts the overall dietary protein.
     
  5. turtleguy

    turtleguy Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, I didn't not know that, somehow I associated corn as a way to fatten livestock. Learn things every day!
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It IS a way to fatten livestock but not because of the protein content. Fats and sugars.
    Fats and sugars build fat, protein builds muscle.
    ETA
    Cat food can work too but check the protein percentage. Some cheap canned cat food is lower in protein than chicken feed. Too much cat food isn't a good thing either.
    I read the ingredient and guaranteed analysis labels of everything I feed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  7. salmoninthebeak

    salmoninthebeak New Egg

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    So, if the feather loss/ re growth is taking some of the protein, how would I counter act this?? Or do I need to worry about it??
    I am not sure what feed they have, although they have two different kinds as we ran out of one, went locally and bought an organic more seedy type, then made it out to the Feed store and got a bag of the pellet kind they had previously.
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Know what you are feeding. There are many different formulas for different stages of life and purposes.

    If she's not laying, I wouldn't be giving her a layer feed. If the others are laying you can switch them all temporarily to a grower feed and provide oyster shell in a separate container for the others to make shells with.

    You didn't say if or how you treated her wounds.

    I had two birds acting just like that this summer after they survived a severe raccoon attack that took 4 flock mates including the rooster. They're both laying again.

    Quote:
     
  9. salmoninthebeak

    salmoninthebeak New Egg

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    We applied Bag Balm to a small tear under her wing
     
  10. salmoninthebeak

    salmoninthebeak New Egg

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    I guess my specific question is, with the feather loss, to help re growth and for her not to lose body weight, should I be adding some of the mentioned "adds" such as scrambled eggs/ cottage cheese/ tuna ??

    and if the other hens get into the extra protein, will it hinder them??

    thank you!
     

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