Plumping up an underweight hen

Equiem

Chirping
Oct 28, 2018
55
89
61
Hertfordshire, UK
Took my poorly to the vets yesterday and she confirmed what I thought - she is too thin, despite going to sleep with a full crop every night

The vet queried a metabolic problem but encouraged me to feed her to help her get to an acceptable weight

I was wondering what the best foods are to plump her up a little, especially with winter rearing its ugly head
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
23,838
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Colorado Rockies
Have you checked her crop in the morning before she is given access to food and water? You need to do that. A crop that is full isn't a good thing if it's that way first thing in the morning, even though your vet may not have talked about it.

A sour crop or impacted crop will cause the chicken to feel full and they won't want to eat anything, and they can end up starving to death in spite of a full crop.

If her crop is flat and empty come morning, the problem could be worms. Did your vet bring that up? A fecal float test, done by your vet on a sample of her poop can either rule out worms or diagnose them and tell you want species to treat for.

If you rule out crop disorders and worms, then I would accept a diagnosis of a metabolic disorder. Mackerel or other oily fish, black sunflower seeds, and feeding fermented feed can all help to put meat on your skinny-minnie.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,041
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391
North-Central IL
The best plan would have been for the vet to run a fecal so you'd know what sort of worm burden you may or may not have. Personally, if I had a hen that was underweight despite eating enough, my first course of action would be a full course of Valbazen, ie two doses ten days apart. Then my high protein feed should take care of the rest. I might supplement some cheap canned fish like sardines if I were really worried.
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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Full crop ok at night make sure empty in am. You need good feed with high protein for maximum growth. You might consider bumping to something near you that is 18-20% protein and see how she does for a little bit. They may need extra protein through the molting/winter season anyway. If giving treats limit to 10% or less of intake so not diluting the nutrition and make sure protein source like dried mealworms. I would add some sav-a-chick electrolytes to water. Feed ad lib with poultry grit if greater than 8 weeks of age and oyster shell free choice if 15 weeks or greater. Otherwise follow vet advice.
 
Last edited:

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,041
4,924
391
North-Central IL
Also, what are you feeding? I mean everything over the day, not just feed. And how many other chickens do you have, what sort of body condition would you say they are?

Just one thin one could be worms, could be some sort of inherent issue with that one bird, could be her guts were damaged by cocci when young and although she recovered, she doesn't process feed efficiently. There are a number of possible causes. She could even be being bullied away from the feed, so while she has a full crop at night, she might not be getting enough throughout the day and is just gorging in the evening when the others lose interest in guarding the feeder(s).
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
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Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
Took my poorly to the vets yesterday and she confirmed what I thought - she is too thin, despite going to sleep with a full crop every night.... I was wondering what the best foods are to plump her up a little, especially with winter rearing its ugly head

Chickens tote most of their extra weight around their vents. This is the good news. The bad news is that too much fat around a hens' vent can and will lead to serious chances of death. This is true if a fat hen can no longer force her eggs pass that big old gob of fat in her backside and gets egg Peritonitis.
 

Equiem

Chirping
Oct 28, 2018
55
89
61
Hertfordshire, UK
Have you checked her crop in the morning before she is given access to food and water? You need to do that. A crop that is full isn't a good thing if it's that way first thing in the morning, even though your vet may not have talked about it.

A sour crop or impacted crop will cause the chicken to feel full and they won't want to eat anything, and they can end up starving to death in spite of a full crop.

If her crop is flat and empty come morning, the problem could be worms. Did your vet bring that up? A fecal float test, done by your vet on a sample of her poop can either rule out worms or diagnose them and tell you want species to treat for.

If you rule out crop disorders and worms, then I would accept a diagnosis of a metabolic disorder. Mackerel or other oily fish, black sunflower seeds, and feeding fermented feed can all help to put meat on your skinny-minnie.

I'm well aware of all crop issues as have dealt with them all at various times in the 7 months I've owned chickens!

She's had sour crop once but no other crop issues since. It's always been flat when she wakes in the morning. I took her to the vet as she's experiencing some crop issues again - not impacted, not sour - but nothing that fits into any category so she is currently on metaclopromide to stimulate her crop to move food through.

Once she's starting to eat more solid foods again, she's on recovery formula at the moment to make sure it's all moving properly, I just wanted to know what's the best foods to plump her chest area up only a little.
 

Equiem

Chirping
Oct 28, 2018
55
89
61
Hertfordshire, UK
Chickens tote most of their extra weight around their vents. This is the good news. The bad news is that too much fat around a hens' vent can and will lead to serious chances of death. This is true if a fat hen can no longer force her eggs pass that big old gob of fat in her backside and gets egg Peritonitis.

She is thin in the breast area. She is nowhere near fat. I don't want her fat, I just want her breast area to be less concave and a more healthy size.
 

Equiem

Chirping
Oct 28, 2018
55
89
61
Hertfordshire, UK
Also, what are you feeding? I mean everything over the day, not just feed. And how many other chickens do you have, what sort of body condition would you say they are?

Just one thin one could be worms, could be some sort of inherent issue with that one bird, could be her guts were damaged by cocci when young and although she recovered, she doesn't process feed efficiently. There are a number of possible causes. She could even be being bullied away from the feed, so while she has a full crop at night, she might not be getting enough throughout the day and is just gorging in the evening when the others lose interest in guarding the feeder(s).

She is an ex battery hen so came to me with lots of problems, like all of my girls! The vet said it may just be because she has never been a healthy hen and she is top of the pecking order regardless and is often the one doing the bullying! I have 2 other hens that are in good condition

She has layers pellets, I throw a couple of handfuls of corn during the day and a handful or two of fresh greens. The occasional small bowl of live yogurt with crushed calcium tablets and egg shell.
 

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