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thin hens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by aafairchild, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. aafairchild

    aafairchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey All,

    I guess I'm feeling paranoid. I've been at this about 3 years now. My birds just feel thin whenever I put hands on them. How does one tell if they are too thin? I had a RIR just basically drop dead in the yard. I was recovering from arm surgery and thus a necropsy was out of the question. When I went to remove the body, she felt stick thin to me. I know I don't want fat laying hens. I get an avg of 20 eggs daily from 32 hens of assorted breeds/ages. I currently have 3 roosters but #3 is heading for the freezer next week. I don't actually need him and he's turning into a butt plus I am starting to see a bit of feather wear on a few hens. I feel like my ladies are pretty healthy, but would like to know how to determine if they are in fact too thin. I worm in the winter, not during peak egg laying.

    Thanks
    Alice
     
  2. XxMingirlxX

    XxMingirlxX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have photos of them?
    What percentage protein is your feed?
     
  3. aafairchild

    aafairchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Pics I can work on. They eat fermented 18 percent layer although when it's hot I mix in some game bird. Grit and oyster shell are freely available

    Alice
     
  4. aafairchild

    aafairchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Pics suck. These birds all have full crops and act like they are always hungry. These are not super friendly birds so they don't get handled a lot but 1st pic is my oldest hen

    Thanks
    [​IMG][/IMG][/IMG]
     
  5. XxMingirlxX

    XxMingirlxX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What is the pecking order like? Is there much bullying? If so, the weaker hens might not be getting enough to eat.

    Aside from that idea, I can see no reason why your birds would be thin. They look healthy on the photo and you are giving them good food.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    When rigor mortis has set in, they feel thinner to me, when I pick them up.

    I don't get this perfectly, but I try and feed just enough for the day, if there is a lot left over, then I feed less the next day, if there is nothing left, I feed a little more. In an established flock, that should be meeting their needs. You are feeding good feed, that should be fine.

    If the hen was in fact too thin, it might also have been because she was getting ready to die. But even though the picture is small, those look like healthy hens to me, and I would not worry about it. You state that you have multi-ages, I have over the years, frequently had one just drop dead, when they get past 3 years of age. I have never had a necropsy done. Unless you get a pattern of hens dying off and lose several birds within days, I would just assume that it was just a normal end of life death.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Your flock certainly appears sleek and healthy. If they were suffering from malnutrition, they would have a much more motley appearance, a "ruffled" look. Layers are not meat birds where you want a meaty breast.

    I suggest you weigh your birds. If they are averaging under three pounds, then you may have a problem, but those birds all look to be the average weight of three to five pounds for layers.

    I doubt you really have the problem you may believe you have.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Weigh them.

    Most of your hens look like breeds that should be in the 4-6lb range. If they're there, you're good.

    Most folks don't really know what a laying hen should feel like. They see those massive breasted grocery store birds and think their hens should feel like that. Layers should have a keel bone you can feel, not rounded out with all that excess meat.

    If your birds are productive, active, feathers are in good condition, things like that, then they're healthy.
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    "If your birds are productive, active, feathers are in good condition, things like that, then they're healthy. "

    Excellent point - if they are laying regularly, they are fine.
     

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