Seemingly healthy chickens not eating and drinking much

Feeding issues

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Sezza2104

Hatching
Oct 2, 2021
1
1
6
Hi there
Im new to here, i have 3 cream legbar hens and they dont eat or drink much at all, i do have a massive garden and plenty of grass but they are also rarely laying eggs now either for about 2-3 month. They are 15 months old and ive had them since they were 6 weeks old, on checking how much chickens should drink and eat, they have never eaten or drank no where nearly as much as they should on average.
I did have 4 and one was quite poorly for awhile before she passed, she had all the symptoms of Coccidiosis, my other girls had no symptoms but i treated my whole flock just incase for 14 days as perscribed, my poorly girl though picked up for a few days later took a turn for the worst and on her last day showed symptoms of sour crop (is sour crop contagious?) and later passed :(. All my other girls seem fine and happy and always have done, have checked for mites and seem clear but not laying now in a while and there food and water has barely moved in their 3kg feeders in days, im really baffled as to whats wrong with them. Any help, insight and suggestions would be appreciated.

side note: they do get treats weekly but certianly not daily and i always give them treats in the aftenoon so as to make sure they eat there layers pellets first.

baffled :s
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Premium Feather Member
Jul 31, 2018
18,995
155,763
1,592
Catalonia, Spain & UK
My Coop
My Coop
Hi there
Im new to here, i have 3 cream legbar hens and they dont eat or drink much at all, i do have a massive garden and plenty of grass but they are also rarely laying eggs now either for about 2-3 month. They are 15 months old and ive had them since they were 6 weeks old, on checking how much chickens should drink and eat, they have never eaten or drank no where nearly as much as they should on average.
I did have 4 and one was quite poorly for awhile before she passed, she had all the symptoms of Coccidiosis, my other girls had no symptoms but i treated my whole flock just incase for 14 days as perscribed, my poorly girl though picked up for a few days later took a turn for the worst and on her last day showed symptoms of sour crop (is sour crop contagious?) and later passed :(. All my other girls seem fine and happy and always have done, have checked for mites and seem clear but not laying now in a while and there food and water has barely moved in their 3kg feeders in days, im really baffled as to whats wrong with them. Any help, insight and suggestions would be appreciated.

side note: they do get treats weekly but certianly not daily and i always give them treats in the aftenoon so as to make sure they eat there layers pellets first.

baffled :s
Hello Sezza2104
Welcome to BYC.
You may have read that the "average" hen should eat a particular quantity of feed for her body weight. Many people take around 100 to 120 grams a day as a rough guideline. Firstly you need to bear in mind that these guidelines are for contained laying hens, think battery conditions.
I've had hens who were free ranging eat less than 30 grams of commercial feed and were perfectly healthy.
Lets assume that your hens are getting a proportion of their nutrients from foraging in your garden for the moment.
If you are confident that none of them are sick (have you wormed them?) then one way to tell if they are eating sufficient volume is to check their crops once they've gone to roost. You can't miss their crops if you run your hand firmly down the front of the hen. The crop will be a bulge slightly to one side of their breatbone. If their crops feel full then they are getting the volume.
The next thing is making sure that volume contains the right balance of nutrients. A good quality feed 18% protein and around 3% to 4% calcium is what you should be feeding them.
There is the added problem that some chiickens are fussy about their food. Having to eat a vegan diet when you're dying for a rare steak can get pretty dull quickly. Try feeding them some cooked white fish a couple of times a week.
You could also try buying non pelllet feed, adding a litttle warm water (warm, not hot) and making a mash.
Lots of chickens, given a choice will prefer to eat what they can forage in preference to commercial feed providing the forage is plentiful and of the right kind. A beakfull of niice juicy bugs washed down with a beakfull of puddlle water is infinitely preferable to dry pellets and clean tap water.:)
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,328
27,019
932
Germany
i do have a massive garden and plenty of grass but they are also rarely laying eggs now either for about 2-3 month.
With a massive garden to forage in to their heart's content, they do not need much commercial layer feed, just like @Shadrach already explained.
But take into consideration, that with dwindling hours of daylight the amount of eggs subsides as well. Hens need at least 14 hours of daylight for egg production, better 16 hours. So depending on where you and your hens live, this can have a great influence on their laying activity.

And perhaps you would want to go on a bounty hunt, as they might have laid their eggs in a hidden nest somewhere, which happens quite often.

Please, let us know what you find!

And welcome to the BYC community! :frow
 

Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,122
1,503
271
Wilmington, NC
It's important that hens get a balanced diet for their health and good egg-laying. Commercial feed does that.

Allowing them to forage in a large garden area may cause them to miss some/many of the essential nutrients they need for both.
 

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