Fat little chickens? How much scratch grains is too much?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 6chickens in St. Charles, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. 6chickens in St. Charles

    6chickens in St. Charles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    St. Charles, IL
    Our chickens may be getting fat. They no longer fly and the ground shakes when they run past. We give them a scoop (about 1 to 2 measuring cups) in a little heap in the morning for the start of their day. We only have 6 bantam chickens and a few chipmunks take the leftovers. They have free range of our 100'X100' suburban lot, including hills to climb. We feed them laying feed, they are all 1 and a half years old and lay about 1 egg a day each. Actually, they dont eat much of the feed. Their gullets are full of greens and bugs by the end of the day. MUCHO CICADAS this week and those white grubbs that would be beetles next year, and a few big long katydids or grasshoppers. They cleaned out our blackberries. ALSO, they ate billions of those shiny green japanese beetles. With such an active lifestyle and a seemingly Atkin's style diet, I wonder if the corn/grain scratch could be making them fat? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. With this strange weather, I doubt this winter will be cold enough to withold greens and bugs from them, so I worry a little that they'll continue to get fatter for the next year.
  2. Camelot Farms

    Camelot Farms Chickenista

    LOL... what kind of bantams are they?
  3. 6chickens in St. Charles

    6chickens in St. Charles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    St. Charles, IL
    The fattest is an Americauna, the next fattest is our little rose comb black bantam, then her son the Silkie/Rosecomb mix, then his sister the Silkie/Americauna mix. We also have a Silkie hen and her brother the Silkie Roo, but they hardly eat the scratch and they look normal.
  4. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2008
    New Durham NH
    I wouldnt call an egg a day fat, thats just about perfect! If they stop laying that much, then you may want to consider changing thier diet!

    I do a keel bone test, when you pick them up, feel thier chest/breast muscles. If you feel the bone protruding, with no meat on either side, too skinny. If you dont feel a bone at all, and it is all plump and fatty... Well, thats a bit on the heavy side! You want to be able to feel the bone and the muscle, but not too much.

    Feel everybody, and compare them to each other. Some will be heavier than others, and you will get the hang of what your girls should weigh. It takes a little time and practice tho!

    I know your worry tho, I have the worlds fattest hen! She used to be this nice streamlined EE, a real forager and go getter! Now she is so plump that she doesnt lay at all, and even her face looks puffy! We thought she was sick and wisked her off to our vet (who spoils us) and he laughed and told us she was fine, Just FAT! But short of putting her in a cage by herself, we cant really stop her from foraging and running around with everyone else! So, we love her just the way she is.

    Good luck!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This comes from a Mississippi State article and is what I would be concerned about with fat hens. You might want to cut back on the scratch.

    Causes for Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome

    This problem is commonly referred to as Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome. It results when large amounts of fat is deposited in the hen's liver and abdomen. The liver becomes soft and easily damaged and is more prone to bleeding. The liver contains many blood vessels that rupture easily during egg laying, resulting in massive bleeding and death.

    When laying hens are fed diets containing high levels of dietary energy the hens tend to deposit excess energy as fat deposits in their bodies, especially the liver. The problem is more common when feeds containing high levels of corn or other high energy ingredients is fed. Therefore, it is not advisable to feed chopped corn as the sole feedstuff to laying hens.

    The condition is most often seen in birds that appear to be healthy and in a state of high egg production. Non-laying hens will not eat as much of the high-energy feed and therefore are not affected as much as high producing hens.

    The problem can be prevented by feeding complete layer diets that contain the proper amounts of all nutrients. Corn is an excellent ingredient for poultry diets, but should not be fed as the only feed for hens. Therefore, do not feed corn as the only feed or in combination with complete feeds.

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