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Worried Im starving my chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Roogirl, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Roogirl

    Roogirl In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2011
    All of my chickens have stopped laying! Its still summer here so they are yet to start the moult and usually dont go off the lay until around April.
    They slowed right down when my 1st hen went broody and then I introduced a treadle feeder.
    To date (2weeks after introduction) only a couple of the chickens seem to be using the feeder with the others just plain refusing to go near the thing. I have to leave it open still for the others to use it.
    I read the previous article on "my chickens arent laying" and I figure the sudden reduction of food is the most likely cause of the ceasation of egg laying.
    My questions is this:
    How long before I just give up and remove the treadle feeder and go back to what I was doing? My husband insists if they get hungry enough they will use it but Im worried now its been so long. I dont have the confidence they will use it out of pure hunger.
    Having said this they still seem healthy enough so I also ponder if maybe they are using it and I havent been lucky enough to see it. Although I have spent HOURS observing them so cant imagine Ive missed it.

    Would love to hear any suggestions and advice, I hate to think I am starving them

  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    When they go roost at night feel their crops. A chicken needs too fill her crop before bedtime, so if their crops are not at least half full it may be a good idea to put their food in something else, like the previous feeder you used. Do you feed them scratch grains at all? I was just thinking putting the scratch in the new feeder may help. Bribe them.
  3. Roogirl

    Roogirl In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2011
    Thanks, I wasnt aware of that.
    Just researched the crop and where to find it etc so will give that a try tomorrow night and see what it feels like - may take me a few tries to feel what full and empty actually feels like though.
    I have bribed them with all sorts of treats - mealworms, their favourite pasta, all to no avail! I will do what you suggest and wont hesitate to get them back to "normal" feeding if thats what I have to do.

    Thanks for your help
  4. RWise

    RWise Songster

    Dec 25, 2012
    Oakhurst Oklahoma
    Is the feed disappearing from the new feeder? If not feed them!
  5. Chambertin

    Chambertin Songster

    Jul 6, 2012
    Funabashi Japan
    My Coop
    A crop feels like a good sized lump on the left side of the neck, as you look at the chicken, at or just above where the neck meets the breast. (on the chickens right side)
    An empty one will feel like nothing, just chicken and neck.
    A full one will be almost visually seen and easily felt.
    A half full one might feel like a baloon with some oatmeal in it.
    A recently emptied one feels like a strange loose patch of skin.

    Hope that helps.
    1 person likes this.
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    The other thing to check is see how pronounced their keel bone is. That's the bone that runs down the center of their chest. If it sticks out extremely sharply, they are losing weight.

    I once tried to stop my girls from wasting feed by putting some chicken wire over the top of the feeder. Thought that the birds would easily get their beaks in there, but wouldn't be able to shake their heads from side to side and waste feed. Those hens never did adjust to that, and I had to take the wire off once I figured out that the poor babies were starving. It was difficult to figure out at first, because I was going through less feed, which is what I wanted. But it wasn't due to less waste, it was due to the hens not eating it.
    1 person likes this.

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