As with all animals, it’s important for your chickens to not be too fat or too thin. Being underweight or overweight can be a sign of, or can cause serious illness. Keeping them at the right weight will ensure they stay healthy and happy, and that you’ll never be short of delicious eggs.
But how do you know what a healthy weight is for your birds?
How much does a hen weigh?
No two chickens are the same of course, and average weights vary between breeds.
Typically, standard adult hens should be between 2.5kg and 4kg. Bantams (smaller chickens) are usually around 1kg.
We’ve included a handy breakdown below of the most common UK breeds and their expected weights to give you a better idea.
|Standard (min weight)||Bantam (max weight)|
Rhode Island Red
How to weigh a chicken
Now you know how much your chicken should weigh. But how do you find out how much they actually weigh? You can invest in some specially designed animal scales if you like, but there is a simple way if you have your own accurate bathroom scales:
- First, take your scale out to your chicken run and find a flat, stable surface
- Stand on the scale and make a note of the weight.
- Don’t panic! Remember, you’re wearing clothes and shoes (we assume) so your actual weight will be lower.
- Next, grab your chicken and get back on the scale and make a note of the new weight.
- Finally, subtract the first reading from the second reading and you have your chicken’s weight!
What if my chicken is underweight?
If any of your birds are underweight, try supplementing their feed with a growth or layer ration for extra carbs and protein. You can also throw them a handful of scratch or cracked corn as these will provide a boost of calories to help them gain weight fast.
And make sure your chickens always have access to food whilst they’re awake. They’re not used to just eating a meal once or twice a day – they much prefer to graze throughout the day as they please.
An underweight chicken may just be going through a growth spurt, in which case they should soon regain weight if you follow these steps. However if they are unable to reach a healthy weight they may be suffering from parasites or a serious illness and you should consult your vet.
What if my chicken is overweight?
You might think an overweight chicken is just living a good life, but it can be very bad for their health, give them difficulty laying eggs, and sometimes cause a prolapse (WARNING – not pretty and very unpleasant for your chicken!).
If you have an overweight chicken you’ll need to reduce the number of treats they get and ensure they always have access to a proper layer feed. You can still give them fruit and vegetables, but calorie heavy foods like scratch or cracked corn should be kept well away from them.
Exercise is important too. Make sure they get plenty of time outside their coop during the day, and as much space as possible to roam around and burn off excess calories. Our automatic door openers mean they can get out and about whilst you’re still in bed.
And if you’re still struggling to get their weight down, speak to your vet before they develop a serious problem.
Happy chickens are healthy chickens
Remember, chickens are very sensitive individuals. Over or under eating may just be because they are unhappy with something in their environment. As well as giving them the right food, be sure to follow our tips for helping them to live their best, most eggcellent life, and that will prevent many problems from happening in the first place!