chicken not eating

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by Josh Small, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. Josh Small

    Josh Small In the Brooder

    Oct 16, 2016
    I have 5 hens and i feed them corn and something rice and grass but from the other day they have stop eating why? And what can i do.

  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Do they have access to grit? All of those feeds need grit to break them down. I would also point out that they will not be getting enough protein unless you are also supplementing their diet with meat, fish and/or insects as well.
    In order to produce eggs, they need a minimum of 16% protein. Layers pellets are specially formulated to provide them with enough protein and calcium and that is as a complete feed.... if you feed them corn and rice (which is much lower in protein), as well as layer pellets, that will dilute the protein content of their daily intake. If you are not feeding them a proprietary chicken feed at all, just corn, rice and grass, they will be severely lacking in protein.

    If they have not had access to grit on the diet you have been giving them then you may have some sick chickens with impacted crops or gizzards.
    1 person likes this.
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Quote Josh Small (ovation comment)

    "I dont have grit but can i give them egg shell"

    Crushed egg shells will help with their calcium levels but will break down/dissolve in the acidic conditions in their digestive tract I believe, so not suitable as grit to grind down the grains you are feeding. Do they free range? If so they may be finding enough grit by scratching in the dirt. If they are penned then they really need grit. If you don't have grit and can't buy it, find an old chipped ceramic plate/bowl in the kitchen cupboard that can be sacrificed, place it in a feed bag or similar heavy duty plastic bag and smash it up by repeatedly hitting it with a hammer until it is in small pieces... the bag is to stop the shards flying and possibly going through your eye. Tip the broken plate fragments into the run and the chickens will eat them if they need them. My chickens will usually gobble them up even though they free range.

    You will still need to supplement their diet with a source of protein, unless you feed a preparatory feed.

    Unfortunately if they are already impacted through lack of grit, it may be too late. Check their crop at night when they roost and then again first thing in the morning before they have access to food. If they are still full in the morning, you have a problem. Smell their breath. If it smells yeasty and sour you will need to treat them for sour crop. If it is hard but not smelly, then massaging several times a day and giving them only water or a very sloppy porridge mixture may help. If you have been giving them grass cuttings, that will almost certainly be the cause particularly if they are not really short....long grass cuttings and no grit are a very bad combination as they clog up the digestive system until nothing can get through and the birds can starve to death as a result.

    What you need to understand is that hens don't have teeth to chew up food. Instead they have a muscular pouch deep in their abdomen called a gizzard. The food they eat gets stored in there crop, which is just at the base of their neck at the front. That food slowly feeds into their digestive tract and down into the gizzard. Chickens eat grit so that when it gets to the gizzard, the strong muscle constantly squeezed the food and grit together, grinding it down into a mush that the lower intestines can then absorb the nutrient from. The outlet from the gizzard is smaller than the inlet, so that only the ground down food can proceed into the intestine. If there is no grit to break it down, the gizzard clogs up with grains and grass and then the crop cannot empty. The birds start to live off their body fat and become progressively thinner until they are emaciated. Droppings become less and less as their system comes to a standstill and they can't eat any more because their crop is full.

    Pick your birds off the roost at night and feel their keel bone. This is the central bone that extends from their breast towards their abdomen. Think the keel of a boat. If that is really prominent and sharp, your birds are starving even though you provide food, because they can't process it (chew it up).

    I hope that helps you understand the dietary needs of chickens a little better and helps you look after your chickens and keep them more healthy. Feeding them proper chicken feed is the best course of action until you have more knowledge. The pellets absorb water and go to mush in the chickens system without the need for grinding up. If you feed any grains or vegetable material (grass etc) then you need to also ensure the chickens have access to grit.

    I hope your chickens are not too sick and are able to recover.

    Best wishes

    1 person likes this.
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
  5. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Free Ranging

    Jun 23, 2013
    The Big Island/Hawaii
    Having the same problem, my 5 Wynadottes (34wks, still not laying) have stopped/slowed eating. I ferment my feed, when they were given to me (28wks) the lady told me to keep them on (DuMor) Layer but read somewhere here Flock Raiser with Oyster Shell on the side is good too, not having to buy chick starter, flock feed, layer feed....

    The bag of layer was getting down there, so picked up a bag of FR which they ate up for a few days and now slowing down, barely eating but will eat if I feed from my hand but that's crazy. I've stopped all treats, left their food in overnight & it was all gone this morning. Someone said the higher protein will fill them faster & they won't need as much as food.

    Anymore ideas/opinions?
  6. enrgizerbunny

    enrgizerbunny Chirping

    Mar 7, 2016
    I have 3 hens they live in a pen that's about 1000sqft of yard. I feed layer pellets and some whole corn, other than that they forage all day. Should I still supplement grit? I have a bag our crushed coral that I've thrown out before..
  7. Purina

    Purina Songster

    Nov 11, 2014
    Great question, thanks for asking!

    Grit is only necessary if your hens are not allowed to free-range. Birds that free-range will naturally eat tiny stones. Confined birds that are eating a commercial pellet or crumble also do not need grit because the ingredients in the feed were all in the ground form prior to being made into a crumble or pellet. Once that crumble/pellet hits the moisture in the crop, it will soften into its former mash condition.

    However, confined birds being fed scratch grains or bird seed as a treat will benefit from eating some grit. For your ease, you can just put some in a bowl or sprinkle it on the ground in their run and they will pick it up -- you needn't go to the extra effort to mix it into their feed. Grit is made from granite, so it will last a long time in their gizzard. You can feed it as seldom as once a month or every day if you wish; they will eat as needed.

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