Does free ranging affect coloring?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JessesGirl, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. JessesGirl

    JessesGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    I can't find anything about this so here goes with what is likely a dumb question:
    I have RIRs which I've raised since hatched. They have been free range since they were about 4 weeks. They eat everything (bugs, fruit, veggies, mice, etc.) and have bright yellow waxy legs/feet.
    I received 7 RIRs from a friend which were a little over a year old. They had been confined to a coop with a run (bare dirt) their whole lives. Their legs and feet are such a pale yellow they look almost white and the scales aren't waxy...they are almost flaky looking.
    That friend and another with confined RIRs said their girls had bright yellow legs until they started laying, but my girls have been laying for a few weeks and still have bright yellow legs/feet.
    Also, my girls feathers are super soft; the newer girls have sort of scratchy feathers.
    In addition, a Spotted Sussex roo I got from a neighbor (confined all his life and is about 7 months old) had white legs/feet when he came. He's been here 4 weeks and now his legs have some mottled red spotting down the sides. That sounds like something is wrong but that's my poor writing skills. It looks natural, not yucky.
    SO, does free ranging make the difference?? And if it does, shouldn't I have seen a difference in the RIRs coloring yet? Their feathers are softer. I've had them about 2 months longer than the roo.
    Thanks for the wisdom!

    Here's the roo, Samson when I first got him and below that is a pic of the girls. Note the difference in the girl on the far left (and even the white one) vs the others :


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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    There is nothing wrong with the your roo. many if not all white legged roos have a vertical red stripe on each foot shank.

    I see white leghorns advertised every day (almost) with foot color ranging from yellow to pearl white.

    I feel that free ranging results in duller feathers because of Sun bleaching or fading of the plumage but that is just my personal "theory" and I have no facts to back up my theory. I can pick out the free range fried eggs from the color of the yoke, heck, I can do that blind folded by only taking a bite of the egg. Honest to goodness free range eggs have a much better (to me) flavor. My wife ate no eggs growing up but free range eggs and now my little princess can't stand them. Too bad, I'm going to miss that woman.[​IMG]
     
  3. rosiekitty94

    rosiekitty94 Out Of The Brooder

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    I had rirs for a while too. It seemed that some of mine had white legs even though they were allowed to free range with the others with yellow legs. I believe it's kind of a genetics thing. However, it is believable that after being out and free ranging that their legs would look more yellow if they're meant to be that way. Also, I think the feathers should certainly benefit from free ranging. As for the spotted legs, I've never seen it but I've never had that breed of chicken before either. If it looks unnatural or painful to you, maybe post some pictures in the emergencies and diseases section. It's wonderful you're able to give these previously confined birds a relaxing and natural life. Rirs are an energetic bunch and really enjoy being out!
     
  4. lindz8504

    lindz8504 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like it may be scaly leg mites!
     
  5. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    The pigment in yellow legged birds gradually gets lighter as egg laying goes on through the year. The pigment goes into the eggs.
     
  6. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Speckled Sussex have a whiter skin and legs then RIRs or leghorns, so your rooster has his normal leg color. The red tint to the leg skin is the testosterone making the blood show. Free ranging does allow them to eat the greens that do turn the egg yokes orange. And they may have a better source of pigments for their shells depending on what in the range. As Cindy said they put pigment into the shell and if needed pull it from their bodies so over time a good layer will use up her resources and bleach out.
     
  7. lindz8504

    lindz8504 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is what makes me think scaly leg mites.... Does it look like they are peeling or anything? Can you get close up pictures of their feet and legs?
     
  8. JessesGirl

    JessesGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2013
    Western Iowa
    Thanks for the info everyone! Their legs aren't flaky, just lighter colored. They FEEL the same, just different color.
    You guys are awesome - thank you!
     

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