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The Atlanta Backyard Poultry Meetup Group Message Board Chicken Problems and Illnesses › Boney Breast plates - skinny chickens?

Boney Breast plates - skinny chickens?

Roni M.
user 11217848
Bethpage, TN
Post #: 81
Why are my most of my chickens have boney breast plates and have no weight to them? I'm soley feeding them good layer pellets instead of just 11-way. If I just feed them the 11-way and the good layer pellets - they would leave the pellets - so no 11-way for now - I have given them dewormer, DE in their pellets - what kills the darn worms if they have them? I give them fresh veggies, some fruits, used egg shells, when I cook - I throw them over the back deck to them, whole eggs - when some lay under the rabbit cage - yuck! They get rice, pasta and bread, not a lot because I assume it turns into sugar. They have been free roaming for a month now. I'm going to get into raising meal worms for them. I give them Tylan when they are sick - stuff is a miracle drug. I feed and feed and feed - why skinny - makes me feel that I'm not a good chicken owner.

Sincerely - Roni McLennan

Please help - any suggestions please.
Rick B.
user 12834618
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 119
Weight gain can be a component of the breed, some breeds do not pack on meat while others get very meaty. In the hot months I have noticed that they eat a whole lot less, than the winter months. Corn will add LBs if that is what you are looking for. I would not worry about it as long as they have access to fresh food and water all the time, they will eat what they need. If you are looking for birds that are primarily for meat, there are lots of different breeds that get very chubby... and used for meat.
A former member
Post #: 283
You should cut out everything except the primary layer pellets for awhile. If it's a quality balanced brand, they don't need supplementing. Being free range means they already eat a variety of things, but in order to eat specifically what they need for healthy weight and growth, they need what's in the pellets. Or you can go completely the other way and design your own diet from what you are currently supplementing. There are books that help you do this, I'm sure (I've seen a few, but haven't read them) As long as they have the option to choose to eat what they want over what they need, they will do so. Almost all of my birds free roam 24 hours a day. But they all get the feeds they require, offered freely. Some of them do go down in weight, but pick back up as they starting eating more of the feed.
I have a couple roos in cages that were doing very poorly when they got here. The keel bone (your breast plate) was painfully apparent. Now they are putting on weight and looking like they should for their breed, but they don't have the stamina and muscle development to hold their own with the rest of the birds. So, they'll be moved into their own pen, while I work on that and their weight.

It's like my macaw, he'll eat peanuts all day without touching pellets, if he's allowed. He's 25 years old with health problems because of this. For years, his original owner fed seed mix, meaning all the nutritious stuff got tossed in favor of the "treats". So birds are like that.
There are different expectations to weight and "plumpness" depending on breed, but no bird should be so skinny that the keel sticks out like a knife blade
A former member
Post #: 284
Also the 11-way? I'm guessing it's a type of scratch? They don't need it. Like you observed, that's one thing they'll eat themselves sick on, with very little nutritious value. During the winter they can use it to help generate body heat.
Jason M.
user 13185677
Conyers, GA
Post #: 377
Carla is right, they don't need scratch, but even a diet of nothing but scratch shouldn't cause them to be that skinny. It is not good especially in the summer, while it isn't very nutritious it is high in calories and shouldn't cause the weight loss, especially when they are free ranging.

I would check for mites and lice, they will really drain a bird if they get bad and can leave them skin and bones and looking anemic

Have you wormed recently? And if so what did you use. The most common wormer for chickens is Wazine (piperazine), it is only effective for roundworms, it will not treat the numerous other species of worms that affect chickens. I usually use fenbendazole (Safe Guard), it may be off label for chickens, the type I use is listed for goats, but it will treat cecal worms, round worms, gape worms, as well as others.

I noticed you said you treat with tylan when sick, how often is that? Mycoplasmas wil cause weight loss and unthrifty birds. If they get "colds" repeatedly then there is probably something running around. MG is the worst and is often called CRD, it will remain for the life of the bird and pop up during times of stress. Chickens do not get colds like we do. There are other mycoplasmas, most of which are much less of a problem tham MG, and they often never show symptoms
Roni M.
user 11217848
Bethpage, TN
Post #: 82
Why are my most of my chickens have boney breast plates and have no weight to them? I'm soley feeding them good layer pellets instead of just 11-way. If I just feed them the 11-way and the good layer pellets - they would leave the pellets - so no 11-way for now - I have given them dewormer, DE in their pellets - what kills the darn worms if they have them? I give them fresh veggies, some fruits, used egg shells, when I cook - I throw them over the back deck to them, whole eggs - when some lay under the rabbit cage - yuck! They get rice, pasta and bread, not a lot because I assume it turns into sugar. They have been free roaming for a month now. I'm going to get into raising meal worms for them. I give them Tylan when they are sick - stuff is a miracle drug. I feed and feed and feed - why skinny - makes me feel that I'm not a good chicken owner.

Sincerely - Roni McLennan

Please help - any suggestions please.


Thanks everyone - the 11-way is supposed to have vitamin pellets and other healthy stuff besides the bird seed and grain - have now switched the to the layer pellets with 22% protein and I put different feeding stations all over the yard in different places so they can stuff themselves - I know that is working because the flock to it - stuff themselves leave a bunch and go back later in the evening - I give them tons of water all over the yead also. I will continue to add more and more veggies to their diet and I love them free ranging - the breast plates are skinny, but they look healthy and the plates or not so skinny that they are sharp - I only give Tylan to the really sick birds - who I know have a fever - sneeze and discusting eyes and I bring them in the basement to seperate them and feed and water for them so they can rest by themselves and not have competion. Yes thank for the suggestion about the medicated goat pellets I have to female goats and the farm down the street I have those pellets - now I will give that to the skinny chickens - I'm giving the goats ivermectin because once that farm's goats got lung worms and died. Wazine did not seem to work well - but I can try that again too. I don't eat my chickens and we are freaks about our roos cause their cool - we just eat the eggs I was just concerned about all of them keeping weight and being healthy for them. Going to get into the meal worms too for treats. Growing some lettuces too so they can help themselves and some herbs.

I feel so much better now - this is such an awesome site full of good advice and friendly helpful people - really appreciate everyone's help.

Sincerely - Roni McLennan
Roni M.
user 11217848
Bethpage, TN
Post #: 83
Carla is right, they don't need scratch, but even a diet of nothing but scratch shouldn't cause them to be that skinny. It is not good especially in the summer, while it isn't very nutritious it is high in calories and shouldn't cause the weight loss, especially when they are free ranging.

I would check for mites and lice, they will really drain a bird if they get bad and can leave them skin and bones and looking anemic

Have you wormed recently? And if so what did you use. The most common wormer for chickens is Wazine (piperazine), it is only effective for roundworms, it will not treat the numerous other species of worms that affect chickens. I usually use fenbendazole (Safe Guard), it may be off label for chickens, the type I use is listed for goats, but it will treat cecal worms, round worms, gape worms, as well as others.

I noticed you said you treat with tylan when sick, how often is that? Mycoplasmas wil cause weight loss and unthrifty birds. If they get "colds" repeatedly then there is probably something running around. MG is the worst and is often called CRD, it will remain for the life of the bird and pop up during times of stress. Chickens do not get colds like we do. There are other mycoplasmas, most of which are much less of a problem tham MG, and they often never show symptoms


YES WE HAD A HUGE LICE PROBLEM WHEN I HAD MY CHICKENS AT A FRIENDS FARM - I HAVE NEVER SEEN LICE THAT BAD - SO WE TOOK CARE OF EVERYTHING IN THEIR COOP AND TREATED EACH AND EVERY CHICKEN WE HAD - IMMIDIATELY THEY STOP SCRATCHING AND I BROUGHT THEM HOME TO MY BACKYARD TO FREE RANGE AND NO ONES CALLED ON MY ROOS FOR ABOUT A MONTH NOW - SO I'M KEEPING THEM HERE UNTIL SOMEONE CALLS ON ME - I THINK IT WAS OUR FRIENDS NEXT DOOR THAT WANTED TO LIVE ON lAKE ALATOONA WITH THEIR BOAT SO THEY RENTED OUT THERE HOUSE AND THOSE PEOPLE LOVE OUR ROOS AND THE NOISE - BUT THANKS I TOTALLY FORGOT THEY DID HAVE MITES, I USED ADAMS FLEA AND TICK FIRST - THEN THE NEXT DAY WE DUSTED THEM WITH 5% SEVIN DUST AND MOVED THEM TO THE YARD - I SPRAYED THE WHOLE COOP AND METAL NESTING BOXES WITH BLEACH - RINSED - SPRAYED WITH ADAMS FLEA AND TICK - RAKED OUT THE DIRT AND THEN PUT DE IN THEIR NESTING BOXES - THEY WERE HAPPY - THANK YOU - I GUESS I NEED TO WAIT A FEW WEEKS TO SEE SOME IMPROVEMENT - THANKS FOR YOUR HELP. SINCERELY - RONI
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