Did I spoil her too much?


10 Years
Feb 23, 2009
Evesham, Worcestershire, UK
As some of you may have read from my other thread, my 24 week old buff orp got back from quarantine today, after being successfully treated for mycoplasma.

She's soooooo much better - worryingly so in fact.

Thing is, she's gained about a third of extra body weight in the five days she's been gone, and is behaving like a totally different pullet. I had been thinking she was just not a very hungry bird, and that she was lazy and lethargic, and perhaps a little picky, but now she's charging our other hen out of the way to get to the food, foraging with great interest, and strutting around really actively. Her crop is also completely full tonight, whereas it never seemed to be before she got ill.

I feel dreadful that I didn't notice that she was getting thinner and more lethargic for weeks before she came down with the respiratory problems.

The breeder who took her in and nursed her back to health for me has very politely hinted towards feeding too many regular treats being the problem - it seems possible that she became picky with her food because there was too much choice and eventually developed some sort of chicken-eating-disorder, got frail, and that's why she came down with the mycoplasma.

After tempting her for the last few weeks with ever-more delicious treats in an effort to get her to eat more, it seems utterly bizarre that she's recovered and started to gain weight by being put on a regime of layer's pellets and plain water. Nothing else. A kind of 'eat that, or starve' type of therapy!

When she was at home I couldn't even tempt her to eat tuna or scrambled egg, let alone pellets! They were completely ignored (although she did perk up a little interest briefly when I soaked them in milk and made them into mash).

Has anyone had an experience with an anorexic pullet like this before? I'm fearful she'll go back to her old ways now she's home again and want to do everything I can to prevent it, especially as this darn mycoplasma could now come back at any time when she's run down.

Weird, hey?


Gone Broody
12 Years
Mar 17, 2008
Never thought about that...

I know when I had just 4 hens they would hold out until I brought the kitchen scraps before eating - they didn't go through much layer feed. I used to call them chicken snobs. Now I have 30-some chickens and the same amount of scraps doesn't go far enough to be a whole meal for any. I go through quite a bit of layer feed. All mine are pretty fat and happy, but I'll have to watch for chickens with eating disorders! Never would have thought about it! Thanks for bringing it up.


10 Years
Feb 23, 2009
Evesham, Worcestershire, UK
Funny isn't it? That they're intelligent enough to wait and even allow themselves to get hungry before eating, just so they've got room for the treats!

Poor Henrietta seems to have taken it too far - she was so thin and lethargic and that's probably why she got poorly. It ended up that she wasn't really eating much of anything, even the good stuff.

I've been told to completely cut out the treats for at least a week now she's better, before carefully and slowly introducing some little extras - being mindful that if she starts her old tricks again I immediately cut right back to pellets only.

Very strange to think that chickens can get eating disorders - they're more complicated than we give them credit for!


13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
WAY North Coastal California
its been my experience that if the chickens are confined to a pen and can't forage, that one has to be much more careful about diet.

However....Truly freerangede birds will snub their noses at treats if the don't "need it".

For example, I have 11 chickens on 1/2 ac. If I put out a lot of meat scraps, or a ton of pasta out there, they'll go nuts for it for a few minutes, then one by one they go off to go eat grass, or go scratch somewhere for bugs. Leaving meat or pasta or whatever treat I gave them behind.

I doubt your chicken has an "eating disorder". She may have knocked out her gut bacteria or something like that. If it were too many treats, your other chickens would be the same.

Enjoy your chickens!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom