Hens don't overeat: true or false?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by deacons, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I've always heard that hens should be fed free choice layer pellets, as they won't overeat like some other animals (people included, I suppose ;))

    However, I recently read a couple of threads about "overweight chickens," which struck me as odd since I've always assumed they eat what they need-even if offered treats like table scraps or scatch- but don't eat more than they need.

    So...true or false that chickens don't overeat?
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  2. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    A hen that is fed a nutritionally balanced diet should not become obese. In general (there are exceptions to everything), i would assume that obesity in a chicken is a sign of a need for a change in what is offered, nutritionally. She might not be eating too much - just the wrong stuff.
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I agree. I feed layer feed free choice, I've never had fat hens. I feed very little in the way of treats, a little scratch, occasional greens, meal worms, that's about it. My hens do spend most of their day foraging in their pasture so they do get plenty of exercise. I suppose if hens are kept only in a run and are bored they may eat more then they need but, as mentioned, if they are mostly eating a good commercial feed even then they shouldn't get to overweight. I think if they are fed to many extra's, treats, scraps etc. then you may have a higher risk of overweight birds.
  4. memphis

    memphis Chicken Obsessed

    Aug 6, 2012
    My hens always have free choice feed. They do get out during the day to free range. My Speckled Sussex are consistant foragers and first in line for treats!! They are little eating machines! But not fat. Big...but not fat. On the other hand my Barnevelders spend the majority of their day at the chicken spa. (Dust bathing or sun bathing!) And they aren't skinney. It is funny how one breed runs around eating all day and the other would rather lounge most of the day but both are in good weight. Guess they are self-regulating. Wish I was!!
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've free fed for 20 years and never had a problem. I usually feed a 18% all in one. From June to December, my birds got that feed cut 50% with cracked corn. All healthy looking, glossy feathers, active, alert, and if they laid any more eggs I don't know WHAT I'd do!

    I do feed all my kitchen/garden scraps to my flock, that varies quite a bit from day to day and by the season. Late summer my birds get several pounds of tomato and pepper trimmings during salsa canning season. In the fall they get lots of apple trimmings, things like that.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I don't know...you tell me.....









    Just like with people it depends on the breed(for us humans it's race/nationality), the individual bird, the age and the sex. Some breeds are heavier eaters than others, some birds within a breed are heavier eaters than others, older birds tend to hold more weight and store more fat and hens will store more fat than males. Just like in us humans and just like any other animal...any creature that is an opportunistic eater that is given a constant opportunity is going to take that opportunity...some more than others.

    Those that say their hens are not fat are often not those people who kill their own birds for eating, they just go by look and feel but have nothing with which to compare it. When you compare carcasses you are seeing beneath the feathers and skin to the real picture.

    I watch feed thrift carefully in my flocks and will cull vigorously for it, because who needs a bird that eats twice as much as the next bird but lays the same amount~or fewer~eggs?
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