One of my hens is at least 1/3 the size of the others

Colorado Chick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 27, 2014
277
171
146
Hi,
this isnt an emergency, but this is the only thread that i could find that may address this. I have three five month old red sex links hens. One of them is at least 1/3 smaller than the other two. I will post pics as soon as i can take some to show their size differences. they really dont like the camera. But they have food available all the time, their run is approximately 275 sq ft where they have access to the compost pile and three raised vegetable beds. Their feather condition is excellent, as well as their legs and feet. The only noticeable difference i can see (Aside from size difference) is that her butt feathers are not nearly as developed as the others. The other two have big ol' fluffy butts, where hers still looks like a scrawny little kid butt. Then personality wise, if she gets separated from the other two, it takes her a little bit longer to figure out how to go through the right gates than if one of the other two were to get separated and figure it out.
all that to say this. should i be concerned about her size. if so, what should i look for, and what should i do? if i have pics on the computer already that show what i am talking about, i will post them. otherwise i will have to wait and take some good ones tomorrow. I am first time chicken owner, that is why i am asking about her size so late in her life.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
It's fairly normal to have runts among chooks as well. Normally they're culled.

Sometimes it's due to harmless genetics, sometimes due to harmful ones. Could be genes affecting the legs, or the pituitary or thyroid; the causes are legion, seriously. Could be a scarred bowel preventing her absorbing nutrients the same as the others. There's just so many potential causes for her smaller size.

There's also a possibility you just got slipped a younger hen with some older ones. Since she doesn't sound overly bright, I would think there's likely a physical underlying condition, since that's by far the most common cause of stunting. There are also diseases that cause stunting.

Best wishes with her. You're not tardy in addressing the situation, don't feel bad about it, even in purebred animals you still get differing sizes between siblings. There's a fairly decent chance it's nothing much to worry about.
 

Colorado Chick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 27, 2014
277
171
146
thank you both for the info. I am thinking she is just a runt. I read the link you posted Chooks4life, and none of the symptoms are there. i have seen occasional diarrhea, but nothing that is consistent. But, none the less i will keep watching for those symptoms none the less. I am going to try and go get some pictures now!
 

appps

Crowing
8 Years
Aug 29, 2012
4,784
647
321
Australia
Did you hatch or buy them all as day olds? I ask as we bought some of ours as hatch mates at 5 weeks but the older they got the more obvious it became that there were a few different ages going on, they developed at different rates but eventually all ended up the same size.

We also have one who has a beak that is slightly out of alignment and it affects her eating to a mild degree. She started off the same size as her three sisters but is definatly smaller than them as an adult, I didn't even notice the beak to start with but think the less food while growing may have contributed to her size.
 

Colorado Chick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 27, 2014
277
171
146
Did you hatch or buy them all as day olds? I ask as we bought some of ours as hatch mates at 5 weeks but the older they got the more obvious it became that there were a few different ages going on, they developed at different rates but eventually all ended up the same size.

We also have one who has a beak that is slightly out of alignment and it affects her eating to a mild degree. She started off the same size as her three sisters but is definatly smaller than them as an adult, I didn't even notice the beak to start with but think the less food while growing may have contributed to her size.
they were purchased. I am unsure of exact age they were chicks though. I will post pics of them as chicks as well.
 

Colorado Chick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 27, 2014
277
171
146
the day i got them. unsure of age and who is who

they were treated with a shot of mite spray

Pixie, the chicken in question is on the left

on the left again

on the right, you can see the lack of butt feathers here

on the right again

on the right again

in the center next to the wood
 

casportpony

Spreadsheet Queen
BYC Staff
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 24, 2012
107,430
286,696
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The Golden State
Last year I had a peachick that was quite small and also had the occasional diarrhea. Turns out she had a bacterial infection. She got better on her own and did finally mature to a normal size.

-Kathy
 

casportpony

Spreadsheet Queen
BYC Staff
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 24, 2012
107,430
286,696
2,062
The Golden State
It's fairly normal to have runts among chooks as well. Normally they're culled.

Sometimes it's due to harmless genetics, sometimes due to harmful ones. Could be genes affecting the legs, or the pituitary or thyroid; the causes are legion, seriously. Could be a scarred bowel preventing her absorbing nutrients the same as the others. There's just so many potential causes for her smaller size.

There's also a possibility you just got slipped a younger hen with some older ones. Since she doesn't sound overly bright, I would think there's likely a physical underlying condition, since that's by far the most common cause of stunting. There are also diseases that cause stunting.

Best wishes with her. You're not tardy in addressing the situation, don't feel bad about it, even in purebred animals you still get differing sizes between siblings. There's a fairly decent chance it's nothing much to worry about.


True... We have two mare that are full sisters, but there's an 8" difference in height.

-Kathy
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
True... We have two mare that are full sisters, but there's an 8" difference in height.

-Kathy

What Kathy said... I believe the OP is seeing this sibling size/type discrepancy in action in these chooks.

The photos don't show any obvious problems. There isn't a drastic size difference, certainly I don't see the typical signs of stunting or thyroid/endocrine disorders.

I notice all the babies in the earlier pics seem the same age, but one has droopy wings; it's very possible, likely even since it's so common an occurrence, that it had a mild illness or problem that set it back a little developmentally, making it lag behind its siblings. In babies, even being chilled, overheated, or sick or hurt, even mildly and temporarily, can set them back visibly all the way into adulthood.

As for the lack of the fluffy butt, I have hens of varying degrees of fully feathered or fluffy butt types, related and all, it's just genetics; as long as the chook graduates from actual down to normal type feathers, (which can still look downy but are proportionately sized), then all is well. Some of my hens and roosters have that fluffy butt, others have complete feathering all the way under the tail area, no fluffy butt visible at all. It's just genetic variability.

On that note, I saw some Wyandottes being sold by a breeder near me recently that had the rather common fluffy butt trait overblown, extending all the way to the front of their thighs and lower breast, over their flanks as well. Quite a severe expression of this normal trait, lol.

Best wishes.
 
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