As much as we would love to see our chickens happy and healthy, there are times when we unintentionally cause their untimely demise. We give them so much attention, making sure we provide what they need to ensure they live long, not knowing that they are already getting too fat.
Just like humans, chickens consume more calories than they actually use. Considering their unique body composition, these animals first keep all the excess weight in the form of fat and store them in the liver and the abdomen. As they continue to eat, fats become more evident. By the time we notice it, serious damage has already struck the liver.
So what happens next? Actually, the possibilities are endless. They can continue living their lives or they end up suffering. It basically depends on how you handle the situation. If prevented at an early stage, then great. You can escape obesity issues in no time. But if not, do not worry as you can still do something about it.
But before anything else, what is obesity and how does it affect your flock’s health?
Obesity is a term used to describe a being that is overweight. According to Wikipedia, “It is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health.”
The above definition still applies to chickens. The same as to humans, obesity may lead to various health complications. However, it is more often linked to multiple-yolked eggs, poor fertility, prolapsed vent, and egg-binding. If not prevented, it can also result in grave problems like death. Since the liver is already filled with fat, it becomes fragile. So at any time, internal bleeding may happen.
Fortunately, obesity in chickens can be controlled and prevented. Here are some lifestyle changes you might want to take into account.
1. Feeding a well-balanced diet.
A well-balanced diet filled with choline and vitamin B is essential in the growth of hens as these vitamins help metabolize fat. Hence, it is wise to provide a commercially prepared ration since they have been carefully manufactured and formulated to meet the needs and nutritional requirements of your birds.
While poultry nutrition may sound very complicated, you can surely enjoy more benefits when you get the ingredients right. Here are some foods you can add to your flock’s diet:
2. Keep track of their weight.
A fully-grown bird must keep its weight consistent. Abrupt changes in weight may mean there’s an underlying issue that needs to be given attention to. So to be able to figure it out quickly, if possible, weigh your chickens regularly. It is best to get their weight when it’s dark, particularly at the time when they have gone to roost. At that time, their vision is poor so they won’t object to handling.
The results should be well-documented. Every now and then, make comparisons to previous records you have. If you notice that weight is lost, consult the vet immediately. Your chicken might be stressed. On the other hand, if they’re gaining weight fast, they are eating too much. That being said, you know what to do.
3. Treats should be given in limited quantities.
Of course, we all love to spoil our chickens with treats. However, it should not be used to substitute their daily rations. Take note that excessive treats may only lead to obesity and some other health complications. You don’t want that to happen, right?
Although it’s tempting to feed them such treats, moderation should be practiced. Limit the quantity of treats you offer to keep their weight at a normal. That way, you can help preserve their health.
4. Encourage exercise.
Compared to chickens that are confined in chicken coops, free-range chickens are less prone to obesity. The reason is very simple. They are able to exercise by walking, which means all those calories are easily burned.
But then again, not all backyard chicken owners can allow their flock to freely roam. If that is your case, you must ensure that your birds should be given a bigger space to encourage and promote exercise. Ideally, each chicken should have at least 10 square feet of space.
If you love and adore your chickens and you want only what’s best for them, it is important that you let them live the life they deserve. Feed them a well-balanced diet and give them sufficient space to stretch their legs and wings. In return, they will give you things only chickens are capable of giving.
Bonus. With the right nutrition, you can definitely reap lots of perks from chickens. That includes fresh and organic eggs every morning. But if you want to enjoy more of these eggs regardless of the season, grab a copy of the eBook below. It should give you an idea on how you can keep your chickens laying good-quality eggs the whole year.