How fat is too fat? Or is this just a genetic thing?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Jrose, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2013
    I never thought I'd ask this; but I'm doubting myself on my bird's health today! I found one of my 1.5y/o hens dead this morning. A necropsy revealed that her entire abdomen was packed tightly with solid yellow fat, her entire neck was wrapped in a scarf of fat, her crop was empty. Her organs were very healthy and robust looking, her liver was beautiful. Her intestines were woefully empty though. I did not check inside her fat-encased gizzard. She had no bugs on her. Alas, I am feeding her to the cats. She was a great hen, I'm a little bummed.

    So, upon picking her up, alive or dead, there were no indications of being 'too fat'. Heavy, yes, but she was a large meat cross. I've have 'fatty' hens before, with big squishy fat-laden breasts. She didn't have that. Most of the fat was inside her abdomen. Aside from her neck being wrung with fatty cords, her actual external body didn't have 'excess' or 'abnormal quantities of' fat on it.

    I've been feeling the breast bones of random chickens at night on the roost, just to keep an eye on them, make sure no one's going hungry in this cold snap. No boney breasts, and no big fat squishy ones either. All feel healthy; but... this girl felt healthy too.

    I am feeding extra feed in this cold; about 25% extra. Not only is there no forage to be had with the frozen snow, but with 100+ birds running around I want to make sure no one goes hungry.

    So I guess I'm stressing a bit because I don't know if this was a genetic thing or if I've put my flock in danger. The dead hen was a red ranger X marans, a cross I breed for myself that gets big fast and lays abundant dark speckly eggs. I know the red rangers can have genetic issues so that's why I'm hoping maybe it was isolated. I didn't take photos, but the fat ball inside her abdomen/body cavity was much lager than a baseball!

    Any thoughts would be appreciated :)
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    About the only thing I would rule out is that you caused this by overfeeding your chickens. I feed my chickens with feed being available at abundance. That means that there is always dry feed in a container, and more is added when level drops. I think this is probably an isolated case since you keep this (your) breed and the rest (100+) still going strong. I HAVE NO IDEA AS TO THE CAUSE..
  3. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I agree , I don't believe anything you did caused this. For genetic or other reasons , she wasn't utilizing her food properly.
  4. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2013
    Well, that's a little reassuring! I've never seen a chicken with this much fat on it, not even cornishX's. I'm serious; the entire breastbone and abdominal cavity were PACKED with solid fat. I imagine it hurt and she stopped eating and died in the cold. Her comb was flush red and she was laying just days prior. I thought at first glance it was internal laying, but indeed the offensive mass was fat, not yolk. I've got some other hens from the same cross, hopefully I don't loose them too :/ I might just faze out my red rangers and replace them with another meat bird that's hardier...
  5. henny1129

    henny1129 Crazy Livestock Gal

    I agree, nothing you did. :) It was most likely genetic or a defect the hen had since birth that was just not evident until she died. Best of luck on forwards! :D

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by