Pretty sure my girls are underweight....

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by michellepagan, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. michellepagan

    michellepagan Out Of The Brooder

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    I figured this would be the best place to stick my question. I live in northern MN....its been COLD here. I have 3 heat lamps plus a space heater in my coop. I switched from 16% layer to 21% all flock. Plus BOSS, fresh greens (3-4 times a week), squirell corn on the cob, plus a tray of calcium/ grit. They also go through 3 gallons of water in a day...sometimes more.

    I have 15 hens and am going through a 40 pound bag of feed (divided into 2 feeders), a 10 pound bag of BOSS, plus the greens in two weeks. However when I did my biweekly chicken feel up tonight I noticed that at least 5 of my girls have a pretty pronounced breast bone hiding in thier feathers. They are not nearly as plump as I think they should be. My egg production has been down, but I thought it was a) winter, b) the cold, and c) most of them are young having just started to lay around Thanksgiving.

    Today we switched them back to layer feed that is made here locally it has crumbles, cracked corn, oats and a few other goodies in it.

    What else could be causing this or what else should I feed them. This is a new flock this year as predators got last years flock, but we didn't have this issue last year. I am thinking about fodder but would that help? And what would be the best thing for them? I don't feed any meat products as I have heard different things about that....should I and if so what?

    Would a second round of deworming be in order? I haven't seen any parasites but that doesn't mean squat really.

    Should I move the girls into may basement for 2-3 weeks after. Giving everyone a good bath with puppy flea shampoo and deworming again.

    Thanks for any input. Like I said they just to seem to be right to me....However they do appear to be eating and drinking okay.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Most parasites are not prevalent this time of year. If you have checked them for lice/mites, I would take a fecal sample to a vet and look for worms. Don't guess.
    The variety of worms will tell you what type of wormer to use. Worms is possibly the fault.

    If it were me, I would stay with the all flock feed since they don't need (and shouldn't have) the extra calcium when they're not all laying. A grower or all flock feed with oyster shell in a separate container is the best method of feeding a flock when all aren't actively laying.
    I would also give a little more wheat and/or barley along with the BOSS. They are high energy but don't have the high protein the BOSS has. Your all flock feed is already high in protein.
    Cold weather birds need energy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  3. michellepagan

    michellepagan Out Of The Brooder

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    Awesome thanks! I'll get in touxh with my vet in the AM. Would you do the barley as a grain or fodder? I just want to make sure they have what they need.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I usually sprout the barley but the grain itself will still provide the energy.
    I'm just starting a fodder programs and working out the kinks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. michellepagan

    michellepagan Out Of The Brooder

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    So one more question....how prominent should thier breast bone be. From everything I have read they are getting enough feed 1.5 - 2.0 pounds of feed per bird everyweek if not more. I am waiting on my vet to open to see if she can do birds. I know she does farm animals( rabbits, dogs, cats, goats, etc.) just not sure if she does chicks!
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Good avian vets are rare. Those with poultry experience are rare as hen's teeth.
    pun intended
    Worms are worms and regardless of the species, ay vet should be able to identify them and select an appropriate medication.
    Chickens that forage will always have worms but a healthy hen can take a light load without any problems.
    IMO the keel bone shouldn't be extremely prominent. I don't know another way of saying it.
     
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    The lack of meat by products in your chicken feed is likely the cause of your hens distress. Meat products are the most expensive component in a well balanced chicken feed because it is the most complete source of protein, A vitamins, B vitamins, and D vitamins, especially vitamin D3. Somewhere in the last month or two a situation like yours was discussed here and the cause was a lack of proper nutrition.

    http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/avian/feedingchickens.pdf

    I wish to call your attention to the last page of the above link. It is the recommendations from the University of California at Davis concerning the best feed for a small flock of back yard laying hens. They recommend any where from 3% to 5% of your hens daily diet be derived from animal by products, and that means animal flesh and organs or fish flesh and organs. THIS IS BESIDES the milk by products, bone meal etc. that goes into a well balanced chicken feed. The University of California also recommends a lower protein level than what you are currently feeding.

    I would question how much salt your local feed mill is mixing in with your layers' feed. Excess salt results in wet droppings. Your local feed mill's salt dispensing equipment may be stuck on the “Cow” setting. Anyway your hens sure seem to drink a lot of water. Or maybe there is not enough salt in your hens' diet and the water they do drink goes right through them making them crave more water. Not intending to disparage your local feed mill, but all that to many local feed mills know about animal nutrition is which end of a corn scoop to use when loading the ingredients into the mill's equipment.

    Sorry for the quality of the link below from the University of Florida's Poultry Science Department, it looks like it was scanned into the computer by a 4 year old and then no one took the time to proof read the resulting document. How many times do you see the word "balanced" in it? And please notice how they avoided telling you that animal protein is good for a chicken without telling you that animal protein is bad for a chicken. However the University of Florida does tell us, and in no uncertain terms, that a whole grain or a plant only diet is bad. And then they go back to recommending a BALLANCED diet. Is this PC mumbo-jumbo run wild or what? I believe that it is, and that all to many hens suffer or meet an early end because of a diet devoid of animal protein.

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps029

    You birds may also have picked up a touch coccidiosis from your last years flock. The effect of coccidiosis can be mistaken for worms, because both are internal parasites. I am unsure if most vets can test for cocci. Don't treat just the thin birds, treat them all. Do a search here for how to treat for occidiosis. Coccidiosis damages the digestive tracks ability to pick up nutrients from food.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  8. michellepagan

    michellepagan Out Of The Brooder

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    I just treated my whole flock for coccidosis. And we don't have funky poop any more (thank goodness) Michael Apple gave me lots of good info on getting rid of it that seemed to do the trick. I do have well water with a pretty high mineral content ( read brown water due to iron :D ). I switched from Nutrena brand food to local feed store with just this last bag of feed I bought yesterday. My local pet store closed down so jo crickets for this group anymore. I will look into meal worms and I think they just might get scrambled eggs for dinner. I am running errands right now but will read that article when I get home. Thanks for the link.

    The vet did say we are parasite free so hopefully some diet changes will fix them all up.

    Thank you guys so much for the help




    My girls seem to REALLY like the new feed they gave me 5 eggs today (8 so far for the week). More than I have seen in a week since I switched to the all flock.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

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