Some farmers believe they are just unlucky having birds that bring out feathers just too often and instead of seeing the fleshy muscles what you see is feathers. If you have taken your birds to the market to market yourself, you will understand that buyers are very selective when it comes to buying chickens.
Buyers would pay #1500 in Nigerian Currency for a chicken they see full-fleshed but refuse to pay the same amount for a full feathered bird of the same age and weight. If you ask me, I may not be able to correctly tell why they do that but, I think it is just normal consumers behavior. And, do not always feel bad seeing that they behave such way everybody want to see and admire what they are paying for.
It is a fact that some birds are full-feathered birds especially the female species. Don’t be surprised to keep the same birds of same species and see some grow more feathers than the others. A careful observation will reveal the full-feathered birds as the female birds. While the male birds do not grow feathers very fast and they often give more value in the market.
The question is why do the male chicks slow down their feather growth while the female grow much feathers? And why do the male chicks even with few feathers add more weight than the females and price higher? The simple reason is male chicks conserve much heat than the females.
Now from day 1 you will notice the male chicks eats more, sleeps more and delays growing of feather. The reason is, they digest their food faster and generate more internal heat while digesting their feeds. This is also the reason why too much heat affects the male chicks most even though the females have more feathers.
While the female chicks will always be seen picking on feeds and sleeps less, they just do not eat as much as the male chicks and they generate less internal heat. The amount of heat generated within the body of chicks determines how fast they grow feathers as a defensive mechanism against cold at the early stage. For example, birds given the required amount of brooding heat will delay growing of feathers as they are always comfortable with the external environment creating a balance with their internal heat.
You will see them adding more visible muscles and weight but less feathers. No wonder the male chicks which eat more and always generate more internal heat from food digestion tends to delay feather growth.The female chicks on the other hand eat less and often generate less internal heat from digestion.
This in turn makes them grow feathers very fast to create a balance between their internal and external environments. It still remains a fact that the female chicks often grow feathers faster owning to the fact that their natural body mechanism supports that since they are the brooding species. If you notice that all your birds including the males and females are growing feathers very fast at the same rate, your brooder need to be checked.
It means the amount of heat supplied to them is not enough and they try to build a defensive mechanism (feather growth) to create the balance in their internal and environment.
Note: at maturity, the male and female birds may grow the same amount of feathers in some cases and you may find it had to differentiate them except the well-formed bright colored wattle and comb, this is because they are already matured and they have both develop the same mechanism to cool down their body when there is a change in the internal and external environments.
I will not ignore the fact that genetic makeup contributes to slow feather growth in birds especially the male species, heat helps a great deal in dealing with how fast our birds grows their feathers. To get your normal brooding temperature at any stage especially day old, use a good thermometer to measure your brooder temperature or use your sense of feelings.You brooder needs to be warm not hot.
How to Balance Your Brooder’s Temperature without a Thermometer
Understand that the normal brooder temperature for DOC should not be more than 40*c. This means the temperature should be a bit higher than your normal body temperature· Then light your heat source and go out of your brooder· Come back after 5 minutes and stay inside your brooder for about 3 minutes to see if you feel sweet inside the brooder.
If yes, reduce the heat source. If you just feel warm then it is perfectly okay. Feeling warm means the temperature of the room is slightly higher than your normal body temperature so you can feel it. However, feeling some sweet means your internal environment is becoming higher than normal then trying to lose some heat through sweating.
By Marshal Agrovet consultancy