chicken lost alot of weight. Need info/advice


10 Years
Nov 8, 2009
Epping, NH
My white leghorn lost alot of weight and I'm concerned.

All three of my chickens have been shedding feathers starting a few weeks back, but my birds are not bare, other than my barred rock has a bare spot underneath near her bottom and vent area. I'm worried something's wrong and need to know.. Or do chickens shed their winter feathers and maybe lose a little weight once spring warm weather is coming?

My leghorn looks real skinny though, but her comb and wattle look fine, her eyes are fine, her temperament is the same as usual, and she does eat.... however, they have been getting alot of scratch and I noticed less consumption of pellets.. could this be my problem?

Oh, and the poop seems same as usual too, don't notice anything strange with it.

What should I do other than stop scratch for a short while?
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I would definitely stop the scratch for a while. It is like candy to them.

Also, maybe get some Calf-Manna as a supplement. Right now, we're feeding Gamebird/Showbird Supplement with 24% protein to get some of the birds back up to weight.
Your hen losing a lot of weight is a concern. Hard to say what's going on there but hopefully with close observation you'll have more to go on. Could she have worms? Has she been wormed?

Offer scratch just as a small percentage of their overall diet. My birds get treats but here's what I do to try to make sure they also get enough balanced chicken food. The first few hours that they're awake in the morning their only option is their chicken feed (in your case that may be layer food, in mine it's game bird maintenance because I also have a roo, and I do provide oyster shell free choice 24/7), then they get a lovely snack of a good bird seed mix heavy on black oil sunflower seed (there's also millet, a bit of corn, and other a variety of other things). I scatter it in the run before letting them out and it's like Christmas morning to them when they get out there. At some point in the day they also get some combination of fresh fruit and veggies, ~a small handful each. Toward the end of the day I'll sprinkle more seed mixture around (my sweet roo prefers to eat from my hand and I don't deny him :^) - and I just bought some rolled oats to add to that mixture) and then before retiring for the night they only have access to the nutritionally balanced chicken feed (which is available 24/7 by the way). They also have Avia Charge 2000 in their water to help fill any dietary gaps there might be. A couple days a week I'll also provide a bit of healthy grain bread soaked in good olive oil. They also like when I include yummy chopped up tomatoes in that mix. They also get some free range time whenever possible and I do buy them mealworms for treats when bugs are not plentiful outdoors. ACV in their water instead of Avia, about once a month.

They are so very happy for the variety in their diet and are eager to eat. I have had my roo for ~8 years so the diet seems to be what he needs to stay robust. If you can, try this sort of regime to see if it helps fortify your ladies. Hope all will be well.

If she's shedding feathers, she might be molting in which case she needs more protein to help the feathers grow back. Feathers are almost completely protein so the suggestion from Shadowhills Farm to feed Calf Manna or Gamebird 24% is valid. You can toss in the occasional handful of dry cat food but be careful because of the salt content.

My favorite way to give them more protein is to give them small portions of grass fed, natural lean ground beef. Each bird gets a serving about the size of the top of my thumb from the first knuckle. I did this about every four days during the cold of winter despite the fact that they're on Flock Raiser, 20% protein.

Leghorns are flighty, thin birds as a rule. You could make a gruel out of her crumbles, they'll eat more if it's wet sometimes.

Good luck, Mary
Yes. Another high protein is boiled eggs chopped up with old veggies like carrots (chop vegs first then blend in the sliced egg) broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes. They don't have to be real fresh. I also keep layer feed 24/7 & free choice oyster shell. Higher protein feed will help too. It wouldn't hurt to check for mites too just to cover all the bases. Good luck.

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