Feeding hens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by perryalana21404, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. perryalana21404

    perryalana21404 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 16, 2012
    We have a free range flock. Everyone is let out to free range all day long, also they have layer in feeders in all coops. Our problem is some of our hens are skinny...I feel very skinny. No Breast meat skinny. Our question is this: How do we feed our girls to put meat on them and not fat? Also what is it that we should feed on top of the layer they already get, the free range stuff they find, and any treats as in table scrapes, produce, and breads? Thank you.
  2. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    You should worm them if they look skinny.. That is a classic sign of an infestation. My girls are all very plump and free range all day. I feed them grower because I have roosters and juvenile birds that are not laying. Oyster shell on side. There is the same amount of protein I believe. You can get a higher protein layer feed as well. I would.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Layers are not supposed to have lots of breast meat. You should be able to feel the keel bone. I'd say actually weigh them and see if they're in the range for their breeds. They might be perfectly healthy and your expectations have been colored by grocery store chickens. Layers are built a lot different.
  4. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Didn't think of this. My birds are probably overweight :oops: Also, what types of layers are we talking about? Classic RSL layer? [​IMG] Here is my one grown RSL girl. The rest are young. I believe Penny above is about standard for weight/size for the hybrid, but she is molting as well - so she looks smaller.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  5. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    x2 what breeds do you have? Laying specific breeds like Leghorns, for example, are thin and are supposed to be thin - they look more like bird birds than the classic cartoon chicken body. Dual purpose breeds are rounder and fuller than laying hens but not nearly as full figured are the true meat birds. Chickens do a very good job of regulating food themselves. If they are free ranging and have access to feed at all times they may be the shape they are supposed to be.

    If they look like they are losing weight check for mites, worms, and other signs of disease/crop problems.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  6. perryalana21404

    perryalana21404 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thank you everybody for the replies.

    We are exploring roundworms as a possibility, the girls eat a fair amount of earthworms which looks like one of the primary vectors.

    We had originally thought that the older (2+ yrs) birds were 'spent' and thus naturally skinny from laying so many eggs. This all changed when we had an older Asian lady come buy out some of our older birds. Her and I hand-checked each bird that she was interested in, many were rejected as 'too skinny'. (I actually learned quite a bit from her even though the only English she seemed to know was 'too skinny'!)

    The 'too skinny' determination was used across the board and within each breed.

    One Barred Rock good, the next Barred Rock too skinny. One Buff Orpington good, the next Buff Orp too skinny. One SLW good, the next SLW too skinny. One Red Star/Red Sex-Link good, the next hybrid too skinny, and so on.

    This gave us concern. Something seems wrong in our flock. After discussing it with each other, we posted the question to all of you because we had no idea if the 'too skinny' and 'spent' birds could be plumped up, originally to be able to sell them to our customer at a later date.

    Now we are thinking that we might have a worm infestation sweeping through the flock, and it is time to focus on flock health.

    Worms aside, am I correct in reading this thread that yes, indeed, older birds that are 'too skinny' could be brought back up to a meatier status, or is it just adding fat, or maybe they will just always be skinny from here on out?

    Maybe it is just time to can up a bunch of cat food and focus on nursing back the young and important birds...

    Off to research homeopathic worm remedies in some other thread here. Garlic looks promising.

    Thanks all!
    ps. Just some of our kids below...
  7. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I'm going to say give them a bunch of pumpkins if you are doing something naturally. Apple Cider Vinegar as well in their water (get the unfiltered, unpasturized ACV with Mother - IE: Braggs).

    Old hens can put on weight. I have some very plump older girls.

    This is the season for molting as well, and hens lose weight when molting.
  8. perryalana21404

    perryalana21404 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thank you. So far I am seeing that 'naturals' are good preventatives but for an infestation I'm better off using Valbazen to kill 'em all.
  9. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Exactly. I use Piperzine every fall when they are molting. Very simple.

    They just had pumpkins today as our decorative ones were going soft :p

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