Eating Disorder? Our chick is a "pig"!


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jun 3, 2010
North Carolina
First of all... I apologize for where this is submitted. I thought I was starting a new topic, and after publishing/posting... I saw that it ended up in the Online Poultry Show. I'm still learning... please forgive me!

I would appreciate some comments and/or recommendations about a chick we recently adopted... which has become quite the "Chubby Chick".

We rescued three (3) - 4-wk old chicks about a month ago. We do not know their breed or their sexes, but the original owner thinks there are 2 females and one male.
He named them... Barley, Sunny & River. They were all the same size when they arrived... and all white... so we "color-coded" them so we could tell one from another.

Right away, we noticed Barley (with a splash of green on the tail feathers)... not only ate with it's siblings... but acted as if it was starved.
When the others finished, Barley remained at the feeder... ate for a while... standing... but then, after a minute more or so... SAT DOWN in front of the feeder, and ate some more!

At first it was kind of cute
but after a month of watching Barley grow, and grow, and go from walking to "waddling"... we are a bit worried.
Barley often stops to "rest." Compared with the two others, Barley spends much more time sitting... so we are now concerned about it's appetite being an eating disorder?????
We do not think Barley is sick, as it has normal digestion and appears to be happy. Barley has always been more docile and less energetic than its siblings.
(My theory is that maybe Barley is a female... and River & Sunny are little cockerels.)

But............ Barley is now "BIG"... maybe 6-8 pounds! Today, she/he was limping a bit... so maybe there is a physical problem which has been there all along?
Note... they are still in a large custom-built "cage" (of sorts) in our garage... most of the day. They do not have a perch in the cage, so they are mostly sitting while enclosed.
Could this affect Barley's walking ability?

Not to worry... they are not confined 24/7. We let them go outside for an hour or so in the morning and also in the late afternoon for exercise and they are learning to eat worms!
My husband is in the process of building the coop almost every day... and weather permitting, we hope to "relocate" them soon!

Any ideas about the weight??? Is this normal??? Sunny is also beginning to get rather plump too.
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Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
May 3, 2009
New Jersey
I am guessing that this chick is probably a cornish X. They are bred to be eating machines to rapidly grow in size so that they may be harvested for eating. Generally if allowed to eat as much as they want, their life span is very limited. Legs and feet give out and they frequently die of heart attacks. You can try limiting her food intake, but the prognosis for a healthy life is not very good. Sorry.


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jun 3, 2010
North Carolina
Thanks for the feedback.
I will try to get some new pics this weekend where you can see an up-to-date age/SIZE photo ... Barley AND the two siblings. You will all see how large she has grown!
In the meantime, you can see what they looked like at 4-5 weeks old. Here, they were about equal in size. For those of you who are "in the know"about what the various chicks might look like... maybe these photos might help you identify the breed for us?


The following pic is a "keeper"... even maybe a contest winner if there is ever a contest for the portrait of "compassionate coop keepers"
Chuck loves his "kids"...

FYI... I was very concerned about Barley today. We think she (he) might have injured herself, or sprained a muscle in the last few days when she "jumped" out of the cage (there is about a 2 inch drop from the door to the floor) ... or maybe when she ran out of the garage and flew a bit, stretching her wings in the yard with her siblings. Today she was limping much more... and was obviously in pain. She stopped and "froze" in place after only about 2 steps... when I encouraged her to follow me, she "cried"... (forgive the mimic
... a slow, but repeated low voice "bwock".... "bwock"...

I picked her up and toted her out to the pen, and gently placed her down in front of the feeder. She ate for a while, and when she was finished... she simply sat... she didn't try to walk anywhere else.
Needless to say... when it was time to round the three up to put them back inside, Barley got a lift back to the cage.

What a "heart-tugging" experience! Barley is so sweet! Always slow and docile and never has been a problem! 'Lord, please let her heal soon!

Our NEXT issue will be about "what will happen"... when we move them into the coop (under construction) and allow them to be "in view" of Buddy, our 10 month old rooster (game cock).

We know that we should keep them "separated" from Buddy for some time, but how old should they be before they might share the same space? We will need your HELP on how to make this transition as smooth as possible. "Buddy"... free ranges all day, and only goes inside at night. We've managed to lure him into his roost early enough each day to allow the "kids" to have some late afternoon playtime. He has only "seen" them once... and that was only for about 2 seconds when they were only about 6 weeks old. He was "shocked"... however... and bristled up immediately! So... over the last month, Buddy has only "heard" occasional peeps from outside his roosting barn... but HE KNOWS something is up!

Again... thanks SO much for your concern. BYC'ers are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO helpful. We truly feel "over our heads" at times.
Vick... of "VicknChucknChicks"


My Patronus is a Chicken
11 Years
Apr 22, 2008
All three of those birds look like cornish x. I have a chicken tractor out in my backyard that's full of cornish roasters that look just like that. The leg problem you are describing is most likely due to excessive weight. 8 to 10wks is normal processing age for cornish and many will have leg or heart issues even at that age.


8 Years
Mar 10, 2011
Northern Illinois
This thread makes me sad. Cornish x's arent bred to live very long. They tend to develop enlarged hearts and have leg problems, to the point that some are completely immobile. They were my first 4-H project. Mine only lasted about 9 months, if even that long. So is the case with most animals bred to grow quickly for meat.


11 Years
Apr 26, 2008
Cypress, Texas
Some people on here have been able to keep them alive for a while. I think its alot of work though, you really have to baby them and watch their food intake. They looke really cute sitting on his lap though!


9 Years
Jun 21, 2010
Okarche Oklahoma
Alot of us meat Bird projectors if you will Condition Cornish X Rocks to live longer then there year average life spands this consist of alot of exercise and special Dieting. and even the best of the best lose birds in the attempt to keep them till breeding age. This might not be the best advice you want to hear. But if it were me I would Finish growing them out and count them as a blessing on the table. If not you only have them suffer (or him at least) until his little legs give out at the weight it is probably to late for dieting you got to start this early. Perhaps you could try to slow down feed but if he is already showing leg problems its probably beyond that time.
I also went back and looked at the pics. you have 3 Cornish X Rock pullets there btw.

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