A weighty issue
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.