Overeating or just an older chick?

swansonfamilycircus

In the Brooder
Aug 2, 2020
9
34
28
Suburban NE Ohio
Hello! So, we're new to raising chickens and we've had our little flock for a little over a month. When we purchased the chicks, they were all relatively the same size, one (named Beeg Egg lol) was a little larger than the others (also not this was a random selection process including multiple breeds). One month later and Beeg Egg is now roughly three times larger than her sisters. She is always found with her head in the feeder or foraging. Other than nighttime when food is removed, she is eating. She seems to walk okay, when she actually walks, and can fly out of the brooder to go to the coop during the daytime. Her landings, however, look awkward and usually are quite hard. Could she be overeating? Or is she just older than the others, or maybe a significantly larger breed? Pics show the drastic difference in her size. Trust me, you'll know which one I'm talking about immediately!) Thanks so much!
 

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Jun 29, 2018
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That looks like a Cornish cross. So sorry if you are keeping them as pets. Cornish cross are used for meat and often have heart problems and heart failure if they live much longer than the processing date. This is because of their high food consumption. Their bodies can't handle it very well. They are also very vuenerable to heat so make sure they always have shade and water available. You will probably have to ration food and free range continuously if you want to keep them as a pet.
 

swansonfamilycircus

In the Brooder
Aug 2, 2020
9
34
28
Suburban NE Ohio
Thanks, ChickenCanoe! I actually joked about that with a friend yesterday. Said I told them we wanted layers and I think they gave me a poultry chick! What would we do if we didn't plan on slaughtering her (as we don't, my 6 year old has claimed her as his own!) Can she live a healthy life?
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
7 Years
Jul 29, 2013
3,935
10,977
517
Cleveland OH
You have a CX as the others have said.

First things first is you need to limit their diet immediately. No more 24/7 food. She needs to get no more than 30 minutes of food access per day. You can do this by giving food once a day or once in the morning then at night for 15 minutes. Wet food can also help like fermented feed or mash. She's welcome to forage with the flock the rest of the day.

By managing her growth you reduce the risk of serious complications for a while. HOWEVER. Know that like all giant breed animals she's gonna have a VERY short lifespan. Mine lived for a bit over two years before waking up to her dead in the nest box one day. This may be uncomfortable, but have a plan for WHEN her organs or legs fail, not IF, and have it asap. If that doesn't look like a vet you've already got a rapport with for you you're going to have to get awfully cozy with the idea of how to assess quality of life and confidently euthanize this bird yourself pretty quickly. And because of her size, options like CO2 will be very limited and not humane.

Your CX will also need a ground-level location to sleep. They cannot jump on or off of roosts as they reach full size. She may or may not ever lay eggs. Mine would lay 1-2 a week that first year then stopped.

They are very personable and very easily can live past butchering age. But they aren't really compatible with long term care.

Another question worth looking at - if you have a meat bird and they were randomly selected.... How many roosters do you have in your chicks? Because you can only keep one of those in a small flock, if they're even legal where you live. And vent sexing is only about 90% accurate. Roosters can become aggressive to children very easily. You may want to make a rooster plan as well.
 

swansonfamilycircus

In the Brooder
Aug 2, 2020
9
34
28
Suburban NE Ohio
ChocolateMouse, thank you. They haven't had 24 hour access to food since week 2. I have already sent my oldest to remove the feeder from the coop. I will definitely make sure that she slows her intake and will look into the fermented feed, and we will continue letting the roam the yard during the day. We have multiple pets, and have lost many over the years, so even the youngest is no stranger to saying goodbye to our animal friends. I also, obviously, have a great vet (although I'm not sure they work with farm animals, I will check in the am) we are literally a block from "rural" life so I'm so I'll have no trouble finding one if needed. Thank you so much for all the information.

Also, they are all hens. The law in my city allow no more than 6 chickens, no roosters. The distributor had the hens separated from the roosters, we just requested a colorful variety of egg layers.... Not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed and upset, but those little fluffy things are probably easy to mix up. We will love her and care for her as long as she can happily stay with us...
 

aday1308

Hatching
Aug 2, 2020
8
6
8
Kingston, WA
Also, they are all hens. The law in my city allow no more than 6 chickens, no roosters. The distributor had the hens separated from the roosters, we just requested a colorful variety of egg layers.... Not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed and upset, but those little fluffy things are probably easy to mix up. We will love her and care for her as long as she can happily stay with us...
If it's any solace, they do lay eggs if you can keep them alive and healthy. They are quite friendly little beasts and they are so very hungry.
 

Oncoming Storm

Songster
Jun 3, 2019
866
1,240
176
ChocolateMouse, thank you. They haven't had 24 hour access to food since week 2. I have already sent my oldest to remove the feeder from the coop. I will definitely make sure that she slows her intake and will look into the fermented feed, and we will continue letting the roam the yard during the day. We have multiple pets, and have lost many over the years, so even the youngest is no stranger to saying goodbye to our animal friends. I also, obviously, have a great vet (although I'm not sure they work with farm animals, I will check in the am) we are literally a block from "rural" life so I'm so I'll have no trouble finding one if needed. Thank you so much for all the information.

Also, they are all hens. The law in my city allow no more than 6 chickens, no roosters. The distributor had the hens separated from the roosters, we just requested a colorful variety of egg layers.... Not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed and upset, but those little fluffy things are probably easy to mix up. We will love her and care for her as long as she can happily stay with us...
Just some tips I’ve learned. I have a meat hen that’s over a year old. She is free ranged so That is one factor. When you feed, don’t pour it into a pile. Throw it so it spreads out. This way she can’t overeat and will actually have to work for her food. Give her full access to the yard so she can get plenty of exercise. It’s good to let them scratch around that way their legs stay in use since that’s the first thing to fail most of the time. You may also be able to coax her into a little exercise by trotting around with a treat. And make sure she has pleeeeenty of water. I do know of cases of these birds lasting over two years and it’s quite rewarding seeing them run around having a good life instead of in the back of a truck. Even if they don’t make it, at least she was loved and cared for :)
 

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