Should our chickens be on a diet?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bernice13, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. bernice13

    bernice13 Hatching

    Nov 20, 2010
    OK, here's the background - once, many years ago, we had 2 pet chickens, and we didn't know what breeds they were. One was probably a rhode island red, or something related, and the other one was a commercial meat bird, genetically bred to gain weight. We fed them chicken feed and they also ate bugs and grass and cheerios and leftovers and anything on the compost pile. The RIR remained skinny and energetic. The commercial meat breed got VERY fat. We read online about them getting so fat that they can't walk. We actually made her "excercise" and she seemed happy. This was long ago.

    Now, we have 2 beautiful Buff Orpingtons who are about 16 months old. I buy them a good commercial chicken feed (which they actually don't eat much of), but they also eat bugs, grass, and I give them black oil sunflower seeds and all of our household leftovers EXCEPT for anything with meat in it. So, I give them everything from our watermelon rinds, to half of a peanut butter sandwich, leftover rice, veggies about to go bad, lettuce from the garden that went bitter, leftover pancakes, etc.

    One of our Buff Orpingtons is chunkier than the other. Not fat like the meat bird was, but we are wondering it is possible to overfeed them? They don't get a whole lot of exercise. Unfortunately we have a bad hawk problem here, so while we do let them out of the coop to eat grass every day, we put them in a pen which we move around the yard.

    So, should I worry about their weight? Can they get too fat? Should I not give them leftovers?


  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I'm wondering why you avoid leftovers with meat in them? Those are always the favorites among mine! Chickens are omnivores and bugs are basically meat, so meat in leftovers is a good source of protein for them. Regarding your other question, chickens don't often overeat so I wouldn't worry too much.
  3. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    You guys really scrape your plates for the chickens? Wow, and here I was cutting up fruit for them and ripping up spinach, etc. I guess I was treating them like pet parrots. LOL
  4. karlamaria

    karlamaria Songster

    Jan 30, 2011
    Western montana
    We give them everything lol, todays treats were brown rice and veggies, watermelon and grapes .last night was spagetti and oh man what a hay day that was lol, my chicken love treats leftovers etc and we love giving them to them.
  5. I would cut back on high calorie/low nutrition stuff like pancakes, white rice, bread and the like and give them meat scraps and any veggies they like. Chickens need a lot of protein as opposed to high carbohydrate foods like breads and even excess corn in their feed or scratch can make them an unhealthy fat. Buff orpingtons are a naturally big, plump, heavy chicken, so don't just assume that they are getting fat. If they are free ranging and eating bugs, grass and weeds, they are probably healthy.

  6. saladin

    saladin Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    I generally agree with the above post: especially concerning meat. Chickens need meat! Just watch them catch a mouse and choke the whole thing down like it was the finest steak in town!!

    Chickens can, like any animal, get too fat. 4 oz of good quality feed per day is all that is needed for a standard size bird.

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