Feed to make chicken fatter

by Ahli
(Va)

Question

Feed to make chicken fatter: I think my chickens are a little under weight, my friends and family say they are fine.

The first chicken I had was much larger than these, and I'm worried they aren't getting the right kind of food.

I give them more than enough food a day but they won't get any bigger. What can I give them to make them fatter?

Answer
My suggestion is to always buy the best foods and supplements you can afford for your chickens, appropriate for their age and purpose of their life.

Check labels for content. You haven’t said what you are feeding or what breed your past chicken was and what these are.

There are differences in body “style” from breed to breed. Some are specifically designed to produce a lot of muscle (meat) in a short amount of time.

Some breeds are slower growing and maturing than others. Some are tall and slender, some short and round.

Even within the same breed, like Rhode Island Reds, there are production bred birds (mass produced for lots of eggs and meat quickly) and the more standard Heritage blood lines (living longer and growing slower).

I’m guessing you don’t really want to make them fat, as that’s not healthy.

A chicken that is under weight will usually have its “keel” breast bone protruding from the breast muscles.

If you place your hand below the neck at the front of the bird, you should feel well rounded breast muscles right down near the legs.

If you feel a bone with a long narrow edge running down the center of the breast muscles, that bird is underweight.

The solution isn’t to fatten them, though having some body fat is healthy for them, especially before winter.

What helps build healthy muscle tissue is good exercise and a diet rich in good fats and proteins, which good quality feeds will provide.

Access to fresh vegetation and some fruit is good for a balanced diet as well.

I like to keep a constant feed supply for my chickens so they never go hungry and get them out free ranging every day.

I watch their activity levels and note anyone that isn’t acting right. If I’m concerned, I will pick them up when they come in to roost for the night and check that keel bone and look them over for any problems.

If you decide your chickens need better nutrition for better weight and muscle development I would recommend using a conditioning feed.

If you really just want to “fatten” them up for market, most people feed corn. It’s a high sugar/starch grain that when fed in volume can actually “fatten” chickens up, but that’s kind of cheating and not healthy for the birds.

There is always the possibility of intestinal parasites that can rob chickens of nutrients in the foods they eat.

You could get a stool sample checked at the vet for signs of worms or eggs of worms. The vet can identify the type and prescribe the right medication.

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