Waste free feeders - chickens losing weight

SunKissed13

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2019
12
22
29
SW Michigan
We made the switch to the pvc elbow style waste free feeders a few weeks ago. we have 4 elbows, started with all 3” pvc, but changed one out for a 4” for our rooster. We have 14 chickens.

a couple hens and my rooster seem to be losing weight. The feeders are always full, located in the run and we don’t shut them in the coop at night as the run is secure, so they have access literally as soon as they wake up. I have cameras on the run and no one is chasing others away, and I’ve witnessed every bird using the ports. No hens are parking in front of feeders eating all day long, so there’s plenty of time when the ports are open (I was originally concerned with only having 4 ports). I even added back the old 8 gallon hanging feeder and that has food left in it at night so they seem to have ample access to feed. Everyone seems healthy, and I’ve checked repeatedly and no mites. Any ideas?!
 
Mar 9, 2014
16,493
65,394
1,412
Northern Colorado
What feed are you using?
What is the protein content of that feed?
What is the mill date on the bag?
Is the feeder protected from moisture getting in there?
How did you check for mites? After dark with a flashlight or headlamp?
What treats and in what quantity are you giving if any?
How many birds total in the flock?

I would rule out internal parasites with having a vet run a fecal float test.

If that is negative i would serve some wet mash every morning.
Wet mash is their regular feed mixed with water to make an oatmeal consistency mash. Super easy and mine go for it like it is a great treat.
 

SunKissed13

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2019
12
22
29
SW Michigan
Lots of good questions!

they are on a 21% feed from our local mill, I never end up with bags older than 10 ish days as I buy one at a time. We have a couple young pullets not yet laying, hence the higher protein for now (thought I would just leave them on higher protein until spring). They also get free choice oyster shell and 1/4 cup of 5 grain scratch thrown daily. We do not free range as the area has a high predator threat, but they are in a large hardware cloth run with plenty of space. 14 birds total, including one rooster.

the feeder is protected from moisture and I don’t just dump new feed on top of old feed, I clean it out every few days and toss the bottom 1/2 inch of feed they can’t reach into the run to give them something to scratch at. I’ve had horses my entire life and they will colic over next to nothing so we have fairly detailed feed and feed storage practices.

I did check every single bird after dark with a flash light for mites about a week ago, but I may do that again tonight.

Poops all look normal. I wondered if there was a fecal parasite option as there is for horses. We don’t have a vet within 50 miles that treats poultry, but perhaps I can talk a local farm vet into running a fecal for me. Any suggestions on treatment if I do find something? Ivermectin?

I will give the wet mash a try. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Greek yogurt as well as an extra protein source.


What feed are you using?
What is the protein content of that feed?
What is the mill date on the bag?
Is the feeder protected from moisture getting in there?
How did you check for mites? After dark with a flashlight or headlamp?
What treats and in what quantity are you giving if any?
How many birds total in the flock?

I would rule out internal parasites with having a vet run a fecal float test.

If that is negative i would serve some wet mash every morning.
Wet mash is their regular feed mixed with water to make an oatmeal consistency mash. Super easy and mine go for it like it is a great treat.
 

TooCheep

Songster
Feb 23, 2019
248
1,242
154
Indiana
Sounds like you are using good practices overall. I wouldn't worry about extra protein. You are well above the minimum necessary. The only problem I've ever run into with mine is that rarely my single-head feeder gets clogged somehow, so I've made it a habit to feel in the opening to insure I can feel pellets, but that shouldn't be a real problem with four openings.

Can you post a picture or two of your feeder and the larger setup?
 
Mar 9, 2014
16,493
65,394
1,412
Northern Colorado
Lots of good questions!

they are on a 21% feed from our local mill, I never end up with bags older than 10 ish days as I buy one at a time. We have a couple young pullets not yet laying, hence the higher protein for now (thought I would just leave them on higher protein until spring). They also get free choice oyster shell and 1/4 cup of 5 grain scratch thrown daily. We do not free range as the area has a high predator threat, but they are in a large hardware cloth run with plenty of space. 14 birds total, including one rooster.

the feeder is protected from moisture and I don’t just dump new feed on top of old feed, I clean it out every few days and toss the bottom 1/2 inch of feed they can’t reach into the run to give them something to scratch at. I’ve had horses my entire life and they will colic over next to nothing so we have fairly detailed feed and feed storage practices.

I did check every single bird after dark with a flash light for mites about a week ago, but I may do that again tonight.

Poops all look normal. I wondered if there was a fecal parasite option as there is for horses. We don’t have a vet within 50 miles that treats poultry, but perhaps I can talk a local farm vet into running a fecal for me. Any suggestions on treatment if I do find something? Ivermectin?

I will give the wet mash a try. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Greek yogurt as well as an extra protein source.
Thank you for answering the questions.

So it is less than 1/3rd of the flock seeming thin. :hmm

Any vet that treats dogs CAN run a fecal float test on chicken poo. Whether they will or not depends on the vet.
What to treat with will depend on what if anything is found.
When I get a float done I collect fresh droppings from several birds and mix well in a zip bag. One test with results giving a whole flock read. ;)

I would also check crops at night for a while to make sure they are going to bed full. You will have to close the pop door to be able to check in the morning to make sure they are emptying overnight. It is worth knowing. It will help rule out any possible crop issues.
 
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