Wow, major weight gain during/after moult and non-laying period.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Denninmi, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,867
    13
    171
    Jul 26, 2009
    I have three RIR hens that are turned 2 in early June. In late July, they had a true, full moult, and looked really funny, all bare all over of major feathers and covered in porcupine quills. I felt sorry for them, they looked itchy.

    Anyway, they of course quit laying at that time, and today, I heard the egg song again for the first time. I also, coincidentally, moved them to a different run during their moult, in order to do some repairs and maintenance on their original coop and run.

    So, today, I said, "it's time to go back to the first coop, girls"

    Well, when I picked each of them up, I couldn't believe how FAT they are -- like the scene in Chicken Run when Mrs. Tweedy measures the one hen and says "Double their rations, I want them all as fat as this one!"

    I guess egg laying really does take a toll on their bodies, and being off of it for a while let them fatten up. They have constant access to Purina Layena pellets, and I also give them tons of fresh produce and household scraps, so it's not like they are ever underfed, they can eat all they want.

    It was just interesting to me that they would gain so much weight. While I obviously don't have quantitative data, I'd say their body mass has increased by something like 50-60%.
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I've never had that happen, not ever. In fact, they usually lose weight during a molt. Are you sure they're fat? What do you base that on? Keel bone? Big abdomen? A big abdomen is usually a sign that they have egg peritonitis or are laying internally. If their keel (breast) bone is sharp with no meat on it, they are not overweight, in fact, just the opposite.
     
  3. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,867
    13
    171
    Jul 26, 2009
    No, they're just very heavy, have put on a lot of padding, and I can't feel the bones any more. I always found them sort of "bony" feeling compared to how a meat chicken would be. I always thought they would be kind of scrawny to eat, not that I would ever eat them. If they WERE destined to make great soup, it would be right now, but they're not, they're more or less pets with eggs as a benefit, and will live out their lives as they do now, eggs or not.

    No, trust me, they're very healthy, just fat and sassy. They get a LOT of treats all the time, lately, it's been fruit, apples, peaches, pears, and melons by the bucketful, plus a lot of day old bread at 20 cents a loaf on clearance at the local store.

    It's quite the life, really, have all the food and drink you can eat put in front of you, have a cushy house, lots of fresh straw to root through all the time, a great big pan of warm sand out in the sun to take a dust bath in. They're just livin' large, that's all.

    I assume that this is all just a temporary physiological response to being free from the demands egg laying places on their bodies, and that they will lose some of the weight as they commence laying again AND as the temperatures drop here and they require more calories burnt to stay warm in the winter weather.
     
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    That's interesting. If they truly are fat, it would be in your (and their) best interest to get some of that off. Fat hens often become egg bound or have other laying issues. Lay off the fruit and bread for awhile. Mine rarely get anything other than their regular feed and on occasion, high protein supplements like eggs and fish and plain yogurt.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by