Chicken in deep thought

How Much Do Chickens Weigh?

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Chickens vary in size depending on breed, age and gender. The average adult chicken weighs between 5 and 10 pounds. Roosters are usually larger than hens, and egg-laying chicken breeds are usually smaller than meat or mixed type breeds. 

Chickens often appear larger than they are thanks to their feathers. A broody hen may fluff out her feathers even more than usual to appear large and intimidating. You may be surprised at how light a bird is to pick up after seeing it in motion. 

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Roosters being larger than hens is an example of sexual dimorphism. The rooster’s comb and long tail feathers are other dimorphic traits. A rooster’s size helps him to protect a flock against predators and other threats, so this dimorphism served the ancestors of chickens well in the wild. 

White and black asil rooster

It takes about a year for a chicken to reach full size. Under this age, hens are called “pullets” and males are called “cockerels.” Chickens raised for meat are usually slaughtered at this age as the meat has a more tender texture and milder flavor than an older bird. A fryer, or meat chicken, will usually weigh 4.5 to 5 pounds at slaughter. Depending on the breed, this could be quite a bit smaller than the chicken’s natural full size. However, fryers do tend to grow at a faster rate than other chicken breeds. 

Meat-type chicken breeds are bigger than egg-type breeds because they are bred specifically to have a lot of muscle. The breast area is especially important due to the popularity of chicken breast meat. These large, muscular birds are also especially poor flyers. 

Because most backyard chicken owners keep their birds for eggs rather than meat production, popular chicken breeds for hobbyists tend to be smaller than those raised for commercial chicken farms. 

What Are the Largest Chicken Breeds?

The largest chicken breeds include the Jersey Giant, Brahma, Cochin, and Orpington. All of these birds average between 8 and 10 pounds in weight. They are also primarily known for being docile and easy to handle. Orpingtons are especially popular multi-purpose chickens that can be used for both meat and egg production. 

Other large dual-purpose or egg-laying chicken breeds you may encounter are the Rhode Island Red, Rock and Wyandotte chickens. These breeds all average between 6 and 8 pounds in weight. 

Chicken breed is orpington

What Are the Smallest Chicken Breeds in the World?

Some of the smaller popular chicken breeds include the Leghorn, Polish and Game Hen. All of these breeds have hens that tend to weigh less than 5 pounds and roosters averaging about 6 pounds in weight. 

However, you can get much smaller birds by raising bantams. A bantam chicken is essentially a miniature chicken, and many breeds come in both standard and bantam varieties. For example, an Ameraucana hen might weigh 5.5 pounds, but a bantam Ameraucana might weigh as little as 1.6 pounds. Most bantam breeds weigh under 2 pounds. 

Some bantam breeds do not have full-size or “large fowl” equivalents. These chicken breeds are all very small in stature and are called “true bantams” as there are no full-size varieties. The smallest of these chicken breeds is the Serama, a Malaysian bird bred from other Asian bantam stock. These birds weigh just 500 grams and are primarily kept as pets. Other popular “true bantam” breeds include the Seabright, Pekin and Rosecomb chicken. 

Bantam chickens obviously aren’t good for meat production, but they can be used for laying eggs. Bantam chicken eggs are smaller than regular eggs, but they are just as nutritious and taste the same as the eggs laid by larger hens. Bantams are also known for being broody, which can make them hard to keep for egg-laying. 

Why Are Bantam Chickens so Small?

Bantam chickens

Bantam chickens display a type of dwarfism that is responsible for small size. This trait is sex-linked, which is useful for breeding because it helps to control the outcome. Breeding a bantam hen with a full-size rooster will result in full-size offspring. 

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Knowing this, some chicken farmers save on costs by raising bantam hens and breeding them with regular roosters for chicks that can be sold as fryers. That keeps space needs and feeding costs low while still allowing for full-size meat chicken production. However, the small eggs laid by bantam hens can cause problems for the growing chicks, so there is some risk associated with that technique. 

Random Chicken Quote:

"People talk about fools counting chickens before they hatch. That's nothing. We name them." -- Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman

38 thoughts on “How to Easily Determine What Killed Your Chickens”

  1. Coyotes are the most cunning animals I’ve ever encountered and preventing them from getting your livestock is a full time job. Sadly, I’ve lost many chickens to them.

  2. Well my chickens have been dying recently and also one of our ducks … some had their head torn off and some the guts eaten out with a pretty good sized hole, and I don’t know what it could be. Cat, opossum I don’t know!?!?!?

    1. I’ve lost 3 ducks in last 2 days ! Same thing gut stomach)eaten out. I was thinking oppossum. Did you find out what it was?

      1. Just recently our beautiful, sweet 8 month old rooster was attacked and killed. When we found him, his entire stomach/guts had been eaten, just the gizzard was left behind, so, I cut it up into small slices and froze them to use for bait. After setting up our large ‘humane’ wild animal trap upon the very spot we found him (for the added scent to lure him in,) I securely tied a fresh piece of gizzard inside at the end of the cage with strong twine. I wanted the creature to have to dig his heels in and tug away at it so that the trap was sure to spring. It worked! Next morning we had the guilty party–a possum!!!

  3. Get about 4 Great Pyrenees dogs, a few Guineas and put a goose in each pen. Coyote traps will catch coons, possums, etc. If a black bear comes around the great Pyrenees dogs will make quick work of the bear up to 600 lbs, believe me. As far as hawks and owls go, I hear farmers from the 1800’s would shoot them but that was back then.

    1. Black vultures will kill and eat livestock and pets. When they are done only a few big feathers remain and some larger bones that are picked clean and will look …old. lost a rooster and a pregnant cat. Black vultures often fly with wings flat. Turkey vultures have wings in a slight v shape.

  4. Had a friend of mine whose chicken was killed by a raccoon. Apparently the chicken was outside of the coop, although there was chicken wire around the coop so it seemed relatively safe. The next morning we saw that it had been sleeping next to the side of the wire and a raccoon had somehow reached its hands through the wire and ripped apart the chicken, taking only a small morsel of meat.
    I try not to use chicken wire for my chickens as the gaps between the grids it very large, allowing the animals to reach in and attack my chickens, and instead, use other sorts of wires.

  5. My chickens were free for the day and one was killed. The neck had all of the meat eaten off of it and there was a chunk out of the breast. What do you think did that? We have everything here, so refrain from telling me I am an idiot for letting them out. I already feel terrible.

  6. We had over 100 chickens killed in one night bodies scattered all over the yard feathers all over the coup and the yard. A few were still alive but appeared to have a broken back no puncture wounds or bite marks just a little blood around their beaks what could have done this???

    1. Wow, 100? I just lost 5 last night and I couldn’t imagine what could get all 5? But 100? I’m so sorry. I had no bodies with mine, just feathers. Hugs

      1. marianne brodrick

        Just read your post of just finding feathers. Did you ever determine what got to your chickens? My daughter lost three last night. It is her first time raising chickens and is so upset.

      2. Tammy in North Georgia Appalachain Mountains

        Lost 14 in one night . They were up in a tree. 1 hen five chicks in the shed. Nothing no feathers. I heard one cackle. Later found one body head and neck gone. Turned out to be Raccoons caught in the act later, 2 raccoons . They climb and ground kill. I imagine must have been several that night. I I don’t see an owl taking 14 and going into the shed. Weasels leave devastation and will kill until the they are tired or nothings left moving. They will kill fir sport sometimes feasting on one bird each or none at all. They leave bodies, feathers and their devastation behind. Coyotes would have had to climb high in the tree. Raccoons are natural born climbers of trees.

    2. Sounds like several dogs. They will sport kill, eating nothing. Lost 23 full-grown 8 – 10 lb birds to 3 dogs who scalled a 5 foot fence, killed them, then left a short trail of feathers. I found the 3 of them & sent them to another incarnation. No more dead birds.

    3. only one out of 4 chickens and 2 ducks was killed, the latch on the chicken coop was undone but the doors were closed. the body wasn’t found but its guts along with feathers were about 20 feet away from the coop next to our garage. and all the rest of the chickens feathers were on top of a cover for a huge dog kennel

  7. after all the stories etc.. why is no one using elec wire around their coops and pens? ive used it for horses, if you rig up the elec around the coop with insulators, and around the pen on step in posts , ground it well with three ground rods and put a gate handle on the strand across the door you use.. they wont mess with it, one hit and they take off

  8. Seems like raccoons like to go back to the scene of the crime a few times. One broke a screen to get into my barn and killed 8 birds. 2 nights later, I caught it coming back again and “relocated” it.

  9. Have a large metal trap caught something and it ate a large hole 8 inch by 6 inch Thur the wire what was that?

  10. Cheryl Mankin

    Something keeps getting our eggs. So far, they seem to leave the chickens alone, but eggs both go missing entirely and are left empty shells. We know we have squirrels and raccoons and possums. We free range our girls in the yard, with the nesting boxes in the coop; we think while the girls are out the critters get the eggs. We leave the door open so the hens can get to the nesting boxes; I don’t know how to protect them as we can’t be outside with them all day every day. We have a dog and were hoping that she would be enough to scare them away, but nope. Looking for a cat, but also concerned that a cat would see the chickens as prey too, so want to find kittens we can raise around them. It’s so frustrating, they not only get the eggs but all of our hard work in the garden, eating plants at every stage of growth. I just don’t know what to do.

    1. Try a new nesting box. We did this and it was an absolute game changer for us. Was only getting 5-6 eggs a day, then once I got a new nesting box, I started getting a dozen a day. Had no idea?!

  11. Kathy Hachlica

    I have a totally enclosed coop and something is getting in. It completely eats the bird it kills. Nothing is left but the bones and the skeleton is intact. The head is gone. There are NO feathers so they eat all but the bones. Does anyone have any idea what this could be

  12. I have had one chicken just to disappear, no feathers, bones, nothing. I had one today to die, it had been nibbled on around the neck. They are in a dog kennel wrapped with chicken wire all around and dog wire on the top and it’s lined on the bottom. Any thoughts? We have had an issue with rat snakes this year.

  13. We found a dead chicken today just outside of our fence. First, we found a pile of under feathers. Then some on the other side of the road in the thicket. We went around to the other side and in the field found the hen! The wing feathers still on the body and it was picked clean! We think it was also during the day.
    Wondering what killed it?

  14. Our 4 chicks are more like pets. Well we had to send one away to the farm down the toad as it HE found his voice and we can’t really have roosters. Now, I went out yesterday and found Fluff ripped apart, foot missing feathers everywhere. The two remaining are very traumatized.

    Whatever got in had to climb up wire mesh mesh 8 feet and squeeze through a 3 inch by 8 inch area that I neglected to close off up where the sides meet the roof.

    I’m feeling like a very bad parent!

  15. Hello! I live on the outskirts of Nashville and I am trying to figure out what might be getting my chickens. We live on 3 acres, with the front acre being open to our house and a yard. The back two acres are wooded and separated by a stream. We have lost two chickens. Both attacks were during the day and both times the entire chicken disappeared. The only evidence that it had been killed was a giant pile of feathers on the back side of our woods. It looks as if something is killing it instantly and then carrying it off to eat it. We haven’t found any bones or anything else left behind except feathers. We have recently spotted both coyotes and bobcats in the area, but I thought they hunted at night. Any idea on what it could be? Based on this post, my best guess would be either a bobcat, a coyote or a fox.

  16. my chickens were killed at night, it got in the coupe (locked ) took look off and eat the bird i n the water

  17. I lost all my 25 chickens last night .i have no idea what it is , no blood no feathers laying around all the bodies were there .some where in piles . I got five more chickens two days later and locked them in the inside coop at night. he busted the door down climbed over an 8 foot wall inside the chicken coop and killed all the chickens, dragged them over a 8 foot wall and put them in the corner . eat a couple of their heads off I have no idea what it is. Did put a hole in my chicken wire too.

  18. We lost a chicken. We think at night, found later in the day and ALL the meat had been striped from the rib cage, head and guts were missing. The feet were still in tact but even the leg meat was gone. The next day the rest of the carcass was gone. Any Ideas as to what might have been the culprit ?

  19. We lost a chicken last night right after dark. I was late going out to close the door on the coop. This girl must have been the unlucky one near the door. Our favorite of course. We heard a chicken scream and went running out. We didn’t see anything. Just feathers in a scattered trail for about 50 feet, then a couple her and there. Our dog tracked the scent to the back of our property where it must have gone under our fence. We never found our girl. What do you think it could be? Our chicken friends say raccoon, but will a raccoon really carry the chicken that far? The other 9 are traumatized, but doing ok and did not get hurt. This is the second time this has happened in the past 5 months. The other chicken was taken in the same manner during the day. Just a trail of feathers, then no trace.

  20. We live by the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Lost 7 out of 12 in our flock (rooster gone too) to what we think is a habituated bear. Has taken out birds on 5 other properties in our area in the past three weeks. All property owners are seasoned in chicken keeping (including protection of the flock). We live in bear country, but till this year, never had problem with them feasting on our birds. Made a destructive mess including tearing out the side of the coop (2 by 4’s and all). What we can’t figure out is… there was no blood…at all?? Last two to die were rooster (only back eaten) and one hen(only head taken). All other victims just vanished. If anyone has an idea, would love a response.

  21. We’ve had one fairly large but young rooster (no spurs yet) disappear a little bit ago and a full grown but young red hen last night. No traces of anything. We have a fence around our coop but no netting over top of the yard. We have owls, hawks, foxes, skunks, possoms, coyotes, cats, and dogs.
    There is no body. No feathers, some cat tracks, no smell and it’s winter. There’s no damage to the coop or fence. I can’t figure it out. Our chickens have been able to jump the fence but they always come back in the evening ( we’re working on it) . I’ve never seen our house rooster jump the fence.

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