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Need the real skinny on skinny laying hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by queenofspades, May 31, 2010.

  1. queenofspades

    queenofspades Hatching

    Aug 26, 2009
    Hi all. I have been searching high and low for answers to my question, but nothing so far, so I'm posting here.

    I have 2 Amerucauna's and 2 Buff Orpingtons. They are fed a mix of pellets and scratch and also are able to freerange at least a couple of afternoons a week, often longer, depending on my roommate's availbility to let them out and put them back in. (this is in urban Los Angeles and I'm currently on assignment working in India). The area where they are freeranging includes grass and many edibles including sorrel, collard greens, arugula, blueberries, strawberres, raspberries, etc....weeds, bugs, you name it.

    The Blondes (Buff Orps) are skinny. They aren't sick.

    Per my roommate: "It is Louisa and Lavinia who are the skinny chicks. Penny and Dotty are noticeable fatter. Still a little thin, but not Skinny. The way I was told you can ctell ist to feel the breast bone. In skinny chickens, the breast bone will be real sharp with little padding. In regular chicks there is more of a V feel, not as sharp and pointy. The padding makes it feel less intense. I think maybe the skinny chiks are just skinny breeds as both of them are noticeably different than the other two. As I felt everybody today with time and the light of day, I realized they were probably exact examples of what the lady was saying. 2 Skinny, 2 Regular-thin."

    So....is it dangerous for my hens to be skinny?

    I'm not intending to eat them, they are layers only, and they are now 1 year, 3 months old. One of the two, Louisa, is a broody hen, to which I originally attributed her skinnier status. But now I'm confused.

    Should we be worried or just pushing the greens? We are supplementing their feed with grazing as well as cut greens from the raised beds - beets, collards, spinaches, broccoli, etc...

    These are not unhappy birds. Just skinny.

    Advice appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I've wormed my girls more than once in 18 months and some are still SKINNY..
    Seems the skinny ones (leghorns) are the best layers.
  3. queenofspades

    queenofspades Hatching

    Aug 26, 2009
    So do you think I have worms? How to deworm chickens?
  4. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    There are lots of wormers for chickens available from your vet and from many animal food outlets.
    Worm them just in case (check what period of time needs to elapse before it is safe to eat the eggs.)
    Your skinny hens may be constitutionally skinny i.e no disease, they are just that way. I have skinny and fat hens, both young and old. They are all fed on the same diet and are free rangers who are regularly wormed. They skinny ones lay just as well as the fatties, so I do not worry about them,

  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Normally, BOs are decidedly NOT skinny! [​IMG] They were the fattest and piggiest chickens I ever owned, so I culled them.

    It's true, I find that the skinnier chickens lay better but yours may need some additional grit to better digest their foods, may need a de-worming agent(not necessarily chemical in nature) or they may just need more rations. Do they have plenty of fresh water? They won't eat much if water isn't available...will even have smaller eggs. Check for lice or mites, this can deplete their nutrition also.
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Weeds and most veggies, especially greens, are high fiber/low calorie foods.

    A chicken's digestive system doesn't do a real good job with fiber to start with. And, you have to consider their capacity.

    Leaf lettuce has about 15 calories per 1/4 pound.

    Layer feed has over 300 calories per 1/4 pound.

    On a diet of only leafy greens, a chicken would soon starve.

  7. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Songster

    Dec 27, 2009
    Most of the time my chickens are free range and although layer feed is always available in the run (which they always have access to) they definitely would rather eat out in the yard than go back to the run during the day. So I started putting layer crumbles out in the yard to give them more choice and still they seem to eat more in the yard. I think this does make them skinnier than if they are strictly eating layer feed because there have been times when I have had to lock them up in the run for a time and they definitely pigged out on the feed and seemed to get heavier. While I do think free ranging makes them skinnier I do not think they are unhealthy at all and in fact seem very healthy and most happy when they are allowed to roam around all day. (perhaps this also has something to do with it?) I do however notice when they are free ranging they go through more oyster shell than when they are eating strictly layer feed. They are all good layers!
  8. fancbrd4me02

    fancbrd4me02 Songster

    Buff Orpingtons are a solid bird. When you pick them up, they should feel heavy for thier size. Maybe you should worm your flock as a precaution.

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