I think my chickens are underweight- HELP?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by coldinnh, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. coldinnh

    coldinnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2010
    My girls seem llight when I pick them up - but their tummies (crop) are always full. They have access 24/7 to food and water. My cochin was attacked by a dog so was brought in and babied until she/he could not stand it anymore (the constant pacing wasn't doing any good) and lost alot of feathers - when I picked Fuzz up the she/he was light as a feather and almost Clarissa Flockheart. (I know stress and trauma and feathers can effect weight) Lastnight Fuzz was shivering like mad - how can I get bulk on my babies?
    They get grower feed as not all are laying (hence the he/she for Fuzz) with plenty of salad greens- they no longer range over 2 acres due to the dog and have scratch and black oil seeds twice a day.
    I am worried - how can I help put some meat on their bones. I think I feel a breastbone on some, know I do on Fuzz and it is getting COLD.

  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    This should really be a sticky. Ok, here we go...

    Feeling the "breastbone", called the keel, is not an indication of an underweight chicken. The prominence of the keel is genetic, in a chicken where it is prominent genetically no amount of food will change that. The chicken does not naturally store a significant amount of fat in that area and the amount of meat they grow there is, again, genetic. You cannot force them to produce more breast meat with food -- not significantly enough to overcome genetics, anyway. That's why Cornish X are bred because they have the genetic predisposition to produce ample breast meat. If we could force that on any chicken with any genetics dual purpose meat flocks wouldn't be such a project.

    Likewise, feeling "light" is not an indicator that there is a problem. Most chickens will feel "light" compared to what they look like they should weigh. Much of their mass is feathers. Feathers are light. Only very compact, meaty type chickens will weigh what they look like they should weigh.

    Now, all that said, shivering is not normal. However, without feathers it is to be expected. Feathers are what insulate the chicken against outside temperatures. Without them, cold sets in. It would be best to keep that particular chicken either inside where the climate can be controlled or under a heat lamp outside until those feathers regrow.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:Good post, good advice. I would only add that you might cut back on the quantity of greens a bit, depending how much they are eating. Treats should total no more than 10% of their diet, even healthy ones.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2010
  4. coldinnh

    coldinnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2010
    so hold the small pumpkin? Is it wise to give bread? with jam? Empty calories I know but I am looking to add a little more to their diet - I have put a heat lamp in their roost area and it is 50 in there right now (up from 39 last night).

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010

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