Is it common for chickens to cut down on how much they eat in the fall

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by srfjeld, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. srfjeld

    srfjeld Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls are now 6 months and used to be little piglets getting bigger every day, now they rarely eat their feed. I have had to wet it down to get them to eat a bit. I'm not home with them all day and I rarely get home before the sun goes down but in the last week I've noticed that in the evenings, when I do get to see them, they seem a bit thinner and their crops don't seem full. I'm not even getting to free range them so they're not really eating anything. Is this common? Oh, and it's the same organic layer feed they've been on the past couple of months. It was hard to switch them from the chick crumbles, so I just mixed it in. Now it's all layer feed. Should I go buy more chick feed and mix that in? Is that messing with the nutrient ratio?
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    With the decreasing daylight hours, if your coop is dark, they will eat less. Chickens don't eat in the dark, they just roost. So that might be why your hens are getting thinner, and not eating as much.. I had to light my hen house because it's very dark in there since I had to close the shutters for winter time, and the windows are blocked.

    Here in Ohio, it's dark in the morning when I get up, and it gets dark by 7:30 now. Also, today, it's rainy, so it's kind of dark right now, and it's 9:30 in the morning. So I do light my coops, otherwise, my flock would just be sitting in a dark coop. That's no fun! LOL

    Another thing that causes chickens to "go light" is worms. Your gals might need a good worming. Valbazen kills just about every type of worm, and they would need 1/2 cc once, and then repeat in 10 days. You would have to throw away your eggs until two weeks after the last dose.

    You could also give them some extra treats. If you are going to throw away the eggs if you worm them, just cook those eggs up, and feed them back to your hens. They will enjoy the extra protein, and that might help them gain some weight.

    Good luck to you,
    Sharon
     
  3. kittycooks

    kittycooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    They could also be going into their first molt. I was really surprised the first time this happened to me - molting in November - but they were just fine. Are you seeing more feathers laying around?
     
  4. srfjeld

    srfjeld Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think it's worms, but I'll check this weekend. I rarely get to see them during the light hours... Life of a teacher, leave at 6 in the morning and home by 6 or 7 at night... but that's a whole other story.

    I put some cottage cheese out with some wetted down layer feed the other night and my boyfriend said they hadn't touched it. They used to LOVE cottage cheese. It's just so strange. A person at the feed store told me when they are hungry enough, they'll eat. When they are out free ranging, they are out living it up, pecking at everything. Maybe it's a hunger strike because they are stuck in their run more since we are busier?

    Thinking of getting some more bulk chick food and mixing it with their layer food. Hoping they'll eat that.
     
  5. srfjeld

    srfjeld Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2011
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    Oh, and I do see feathers around a lot, but it seems like they're always falling out... don't they just do that? Or could it they actually be slow molters?
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You might consider doing the feeding and the "chores" early in the morning. Using a timer, you could have a light come on at 5 am. Go off after sunrise at 9 am.
    This wouldn't be pushing them at all. By the light, you could make an early morning visit, feed them, check on their water and such. I find that the birds that eat well, early in the morning, simply lay batter throughout the winter. I do like to feed the hens at 4 pm, in order to fill their crops for the cold nights, but if it isn't possible for you to do so at that time, I'd just be sure they have a good supply of feed in the morning that supplies them well for the day.

    It isn't unusual at all to find the birds not wanting to eat a 5 pm. Dusk is falling, winter is coming, and they'll start going to the roost as early as 4:30.

    Just a suggestion.
     
  7. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    You don't always see the worms, but if their droppings are looser or watery they may have them. Mine had runny poo, ate a lot less and I lost one pullet so I wormed them all with Valbazen orally and they seem to be doing better. They still need their second dose but I am confident that worms were my issue.

    Hope your girls get their game back!
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  8. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lordy I hope not. These 8 I have are eating a pound a half a day of layer. And they roam all day too. When I pull out the meal worms you would think they're starving and the craws are bulging.
     

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