Mistake in food? Birds seem thin.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Kes, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Kes

    Kes Chirping

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    I was hoping to get some feedback on my birds' nutrition to see if need to make any adjustments.
    My oldest seven consist of 4 EEs and 3 Welsummers and they'll be 9 months old soon. I know neither are large or meaty birds but some of them feel very bony to me and I want to be sure I'm not overlooking something.

    They have constant access to their feed during the day- I give them a layer feed from Blue Seal and mix it with a 22% mixed flock feed that a local feed mill creates. Instead of giving them a premade scratch, I give them a blend of treats in the morning. I mix together chopped sunflower seeds, cracked corn, whole oats (with hulls), and mealworms. I've never seen any evidence of worms but just in case I've started to mix in a little garlic and oregano too- I don't have pumpkin seeds yet. All total it equals about 1/2-3/4 cup between the seven of them (too much? too little?).
    They don't have access to grass most of the time so I also try to give them kale, romaine or cabbage regularly. I don't create much in table scraps, so it's rare they get anything in that department aside from their own cooked eggs if they're cracked.

    They're laying very well- most days I get 5 eggs, yesterday I had 7/7. Their combs aren't the brightest red but they look pretty normal for their breed (I think). I've been checking a lot for parasites and have never seen anything.

    They all seem healthy, they just feel underweight and I don't know anyone else in the area with these breeds to compare them. They're all pretty chill and I don't think anyone is being bullied out of resources.

    I know it's hard to tell from pictures, but I've included a few. Most of my birds have that little overlapping cowlick thing on their chest that you can see on the one EE- does that indicate anything?

    ApplicationFrameHost_2018-03-21_13-36-03.jpg ApplicationFrameHost_2018-03-21_13-31-52.png

    I recently added six chicks to my flock so I'd like to get this figured out before putting them in the run.:hmm
     
  2. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

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    Too many treats IMO.
    Limit the treats to once a week.

    None of the things you mentioned will get rid of worms if they have them.
    Either collect some fresh poop and have it tested by a vet (most all state vet labs will accept a mailed in sample..if you tell me what state you are in I will send you a direct link to your state vet lab.) for worms or go ahead and worm them...which I really shouldn't be suggesting because I don't think it is a good thing to do.

    I think you should read this too:
    http://articles.extension.org/pages/69065/feeding-chickens-for-egg-production
     
  3. Kes

    Kes Chirping

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    Thanks for the quick reply! I live in PA. I did have some doubts about the amount of treats since they seemed like they were consuming their food very slowly (it was hard to tell before I suspended it since they usually dumped it). I'll definitely check out that link.
    I didn't want to jump into treating them for worms because I really don't think they have them but I'll look into getting them tested anyway.
     
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  4. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

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    Animal Diagnostic Laboratory — Penn State University

    http://vbs.psu.edu/adl/services/current-fee-schedulea
     
    Kes likes this.
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I would not worm them unless a fecal float indicated a need to do so. Your birds look fine to me. To what are you comparing them? EE are on the small side, as are Welsummers. A quick google search indicates that a Welsummer pullet would weigh 5# and a full grown hen should weigh around 6#. You could weigh them, but IMO, that information will not provide much useful information. Your birds may naturally be above or below the standard for the breed. When it comes to EE, there is not even a breed standard. And your Welsummer wt. may vary according to the parent stock.

    ETA: Fat chickens are chickens that are prone to reproductive issues.
     
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  6. Kes

    Kes Chirping

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  7. Chickens_4Life

    Chickens_4Life Chirping

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    The chickens are probably malnourished. Not enough of the nutrients they need. I would recommend the brand Manna Pro. I have chickens too, and they are perfectly healthy with what they have. Also, remember to add oyster shell and grit to their food.
     
    Kes likes this.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    How old is your feed? What is the mill date? You say they are eating the feed slowly. If it's over 6 weeks past mill date, it could be that the feed is rancid, so they are not willing to eat it. Just a thought, but your birds look fine to me.
     
    Stephine likes this.
  9. Kes

    Kes Chirping

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    Thank you, I'm glad they at least look healthy.
    I know it's hard to compare them, even by breed standard, so I was going by the feel of their chest. There's some variation between them but I can feel ribs on some of them and a pronounced keel bone on most others. I'm going to try reducing their treats to see if it'll increase their appetite for their feed and probably have their feces tested, just in case.

    Their feed is pretty new, I don't buy a lot of it at a time.

    Like I mentioned, everything else about them seems healthy. They just feel skinny and I don't want it to become an issue.

    @Chickens_4Life - Thank you! I looked up a comparison chart of different feeds earlier and was planning to see what else was available here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  10. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Crowing

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    I would agree with LG that the photos strike me as healthy birds and they likely don't have a significant parasite load or and serious nutritional deficiencies. Also, pullets are still putting on weight and tend to feel a little smaller than an older hen because they are. When chickens (especially layers) put on extra weight, they don't tend to put on a lot of muscle, instead they will put on fat around their organs and you'll never know how overweight they really are. Every time I butcher an older hen I am shocked by just how fat she is on the inside compared to her muscle mass.
    Some other ways to tell if they're malnourished might be looking at external factors. (table 7-3) https://www.nap.edu/read/2114/chapter/9#48
    Feather quality is generally a good indicator, since if a bird is not getting enough nutrition it won't be putting many oils into it's feathers and they will become weak and brittle and poorly colored. Scabbiness on the skin, face, legs or feet is another good sign.
    Activity levels can also be a good indicator. Are your chickens active, robust, vigorous? If they are, they are likely healthy and well-fed.
    Generally treats should be 10% or less of food intake... BUT that depends also in part on what kind of treats you give. If you're giving what you described mixed in equal proportions by weight, that's a fairly healthy treat mix, which gives you some wiggle room. I don't think the treats you describe would cause a significant nutritional deficiency except possibly in calcium levels.
    My guess is you probably just have young, healthy chickens. But if you want to take extra steps to be safe, go right ahead. It won't hurt. But bear in mind, they are still growing a little bit of muscle.
     
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