Size of broilers Are better foragers bigger

Curled toe chickenI was curious whether my
Light Sussex had been getting enough to eat on their
.  I
figured that if the combination of storebought feed and scavenged feed
were below the optimal levels, we’d have a wide variation in chicken
sizes — some big ones that were able to forage best (or hog the feed)
and some small ones who just couldn’t find their own food.

One pullet seemed to
support that hypothesis.  Even though we straightened out her foot
as best we could, the chick born with
curled toe stayed the runt, clocking in
at a final dressed weight of only 0.87 pounds.  But she’s not
really a fair data point since I can envision how having only one foot
to scratch with would slow a chicken down even under the best of
conditions.  How did the other chickens do?

The chart below compares
our poorly fed Light Sussex to our third batch of chicks, which were
overfed in my opinion.  In both cases, I split the birds up into
pullets and cockerels since the latter are naturally larger than the
former.  I
Chicken sizesalso deleted the curled toe
pullet since she unfairly skewed the results.

I was interested to see
that there was actually
variation in size among the Sussex than the Australorp cockerels. 
The pullets showed more variation, perhaps because they are smaller
than cockerels and thus got less of the storebought feed?  Or
maybe the pullet variation was because of three hybrid pullets who
clearly weren’t purebred Light Sussex (they had gray instead of black
neck markings) and who grew much faster than their sisters.

I was careful to select
only the largest pullets and cockerel to keep as the foundation of our
new flock, so hopefully that means I will have chosen the best
foragers.  Maybe the next generation will have a
conversion rate

better than 5.3:1 at 12 weeks.  Yes, that means my darling Light
Sussex didn’t quite beat my
, but
they came close.

Our chicken waterer kept the flock foraging with
plenty of clean water to wash down those worms.

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