A weighty is­sue

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QWe feed our chick­ens reg­u­larly – and on sen­si­ble food… but is it pos­si­ble for a chicken to be­come over­weight and obese?

AJeremy Hob­son said: Tech­ni­cally, a chicken could be­come over­weight and even obese but, in the nor­mal run of things, it’s un­likely. Nat­u­rally, they would al­ways pre­fer feed high in pro­tein and fat but, pro­vided they are given plenty of room to ex­er­cise, for­age and scratch, they will burn off po­ten­tial fat through ex­er­cise.

Some of the more in­do­lent breeds might have a ten­dency to put on weight: you can make them work for their food (and en­ter­tain­ment) by, for in­stance, hang­ing up green feed­stuffs in such a way that they have to ex­ert them­selves to get at them. Some chicken-keep­ers pre­fer giv­ing their birds mash rather than pel­lets as mash takes longer to pick up than pel­lets.

Whilst an af­ter­noon ce­real feed is al­ways a good idea, I’ve men­tioned be­fore of the dan­gers of feed­ing too much maize – which will, in ex­cess, pro­duce fatty de­posits (maize is, though, a good ‘win­ter warmer’). If you are out at work all day there may be no al­ter­na­tive but to feed ‘ad-lib’ from a hop­per. In a per­fect world, one should, ar­guably, give just suf­fi­cient morn­ing feed of pel­lets or mash to last them un­til lunchtime (ex­actly how much is a mat­ter of trial and er­ror) and then give a later feed of ce­re­als (wheat etc.) sprin­kled in the run. Do­ing the lat­ter will both feed and ex­er­cise your birds.

Hen birds that be­come se­ri­ously over­weight may stop lay­ing – and breed­ing cock­erels suf­fer with fer­til­ity is­sues. How­ever, with sen­si­ble feed­ing and suf­fi­cient ex­er­cise, there should be no need to worry.

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