Why is my chicken not growing? What causes this stunted growth process? Am I not feeding my chickens enough?
You may be plagued with multiple questions like these if you don’t see enough growth in your poultry flock. Read on for an analysis of the possible causes and what you can do to make them grow faster.
Why is my Chicken Not Growing?
Chickens are of many types and varieties. Some grow fast and some gain weight slowly. Many factors play into the growth rate of chicks.
Generally, the growth rate of broilers is much faster than a free-range chicken or a layer chicken. If your chickens are not growing as expected, then you can blame it on two main causes;
- Poor welfare
- The genetic make-up of the chickens
Normally, chicken farmers, especially those who farm broilers, expect their chickens to grow at a uniform speed. When some chickens are runts, it means that they are significantly smaller than their mates. This will affect the return on investment of the farmer and minimize profit.
Chicken Not Growing Due to Poor Welfare
Not taking care of chickens well will result in stunted growth in many cases. Not caring for the welfare of chickens include disease outbreak, feed poisoning, accident, or even high temperature.
Here are some of the causes of stunted growth in chickens due to poor welfare and what you can do to minimize them.
Lack of good quality feed
The quality of feed contributes greatly to the chickens’ rate of growth. When a feed is formulated with low-quality ingredients, the chickens will not get the necessary nourishment for growth. Feed that is formulated with spoilt corn grains or moldy fish meal will cause food poisoning in chickens and affect their health.
Broiler chickens rely solely on their feed as a source of nutrition. So their feed has to be of good quality. If your concern is about free-range chickens, then you might have to worry less about the feed you give them. their primary source of nourishment will come from the pastures and protein-rich insects.
To avoid the problem of low-quality feed, always buy from a trusted miller and test the quality of the feed before buying. Avoid buying in bulk, because they can get moldy in a matter of weeks and cause food poisoning for your chickens. If your chicken feed is infected with bugs, you might still be able to feed it to your chickens. Read this for more information.
It could be a case of parasites.
Yes, even chickens can be affected by parasites. Parasites are organisms that live and feed off other organisms either internally or externally. Types of parasites that affect the health of poultry include roundworms, cecal worms, tapeworms, protozoa, mites, and lice.
Parasites are responsible for poor growth in chickens. They also make poultry more susceptible to disease by weakening them and disrupting their immune systems.
You can treat a worm infection by getting a prescription from a veterinarian or even using an over-the-counter dewormer. I normally use Diatomaceous Earth to treat parasites effectively.
It’s always a good idea to let your chickens dust bathe. This reduces the chances of worm infections. Keep the coop clean and make sure rodents are kept away. They can be bearers of mites and lice too.
Broiler chickens and chickens that are kept too close together with little fresh air are more likely to fall ill than free-range chickens. A sick bird will typically not eat or drink anything, and thus it will grow less. Read this article for more disadvantages of broiler farming.
To prevent the spread of diseases among your flock, make sure that you vaccinate them against major diseases like Newcastle disease, Marek disease, Infectious Bursal Disease, and more.
Make sure that your chicken farm has a good biosecurity system in place. Keep your water supply clean and keep the coops well-ventilated.
Lack of food
This could likely be the problem if you are raising a large flock of chickens. The number of feeders and drinkers may be insufficient. When feeding your chickens make sure that you separate the runts and smaller-sized chickens from the flock and treat them with better quality food, so avoid them being stamped. This way, they will easily catch up with the rest for their expected weight. In addition, make sure that you place the drinkers close to the feeders.
Chicken Not Growing Due to Genetic Makeup
If you are taking care of your chickens well, giving them the best quality food and health care and they still don’t grow well, then it could be an issue with their genetic makeup. Some strains of chicken or breeds do not grow that fast. They will have stunted growth if they have the RSS syndrome too.
That is why it is important to buy chicks from a trusted or reputed hatchery. If you are having a small homestead, then it would be better to hatch your chicks by yourself providing them with the best conditions for growth.
Runting and Stunting Syndrome (RSS)
This is a syndrome that affects a number of birds in a flock causing them to be slower in growth and smaller than the rest. This is believed to be caused by a mutation of the growth hormone receptor (GHR) gene and in most cases is untreatable.
Clinical symptoms of this disease include low body weight, pale skin pigmentation, morbidity, few feathering, and curled wingtips or weak legs.
To avoid this syndrome you can practice a good brooding method, good litter management, and better biro security measures.
Chicken not growing: Summary
There could be many reasons why your chicken is not growing fast enough. These include overcrowding, low-quality feed, parasites, disease or it could be stunted growth due to their genetics.
Also read: How do chickens lay eggs without a male?