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Treats ~ advice on quantity & frequency please! For new ex-batts

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hiya!

Yesterday i brought home my 5 ex-bats, v exciting! They are in a bit of a bad way in that their tail and wing feathers are just sticks, but i know this will improve.

We got them home 3 hours before dusk so i just put them in the coop with food and water. My coop has a small window and I could see them tuck into the food, perk up and look inquisitive, one even had its comb pink up already! Anyway, I left them in the coop to settle.

Today, Ill open the pophole to the run. One of the hens at least is very curious and desparate to explore (even wanting to escape the travel box on the way home while the others just sat all shellshocked)...anyway, today Ill be giving treats partly for distraction and partly because I want to give them nice things.

Ive read that corn should be max 10% of their daily rations. But as they are helping themselves from feeders (rather than weighing and measuring it for them) how much is that? Would a cup between the 5 of them, scattered through the run, be about right?

I also have a bunch of greens that I'll hang up (I'm hoping string is OK if there are no trailing ends that they might try to eat?) and mealworm. Are mealworm limited, like corn is? Should I just take a cup of that and scatter it too?

Finally, cat food seems to provoke polarised opinions. Am I right in thinking that some crushed dry cat food will be a help in the first few days, but isnt good long term? Again if I do feed it, do I let them free feed or carefully measure and limit it?

(I have other treats for future but don't want to overwhelm their senses all at once. So now I just want things to hang up / scatter as distraction while they settle in and establish a pecking order, rather than providing a buffet. I'm taking this week one day at a time!)

Thanks so much for reading. It's a very exciting time here!
post #2 of 5
Yoi can roughly calculate a consumption of 1/4-1/3# of feed per day per chicken. I would use the lower end of that to calculate for the maximum amount of treats.

If their main diet already contains corn, I would skip it as a treat mostly in favor of other things. A fresh ear of corn rather than a handful of dried does make a nice boredom buster on occasion though.

Hanging greens, especially a variety, is a nice treat.

I would favor insect treats over cat food any day. It more closely mimics a natural diet. I find them to be the treats that my pullets get the most excited about. They are not only a good treat, but also great for taming and training.

For feeding grains as treats, you may consider offering them as sprouts to up the useable nutrition. Even more fun for the chickens is to grow them into fodder, but it can mean more work on your part.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Great, thanks! Their food is layers crumbles... When I opened the bag I had to double check that it was food and not sand or something. It looks very dull. That said, they tucked into it last night... So there aren't any recognisable bits of anything in it.

I was advised about the cat food with them being ex-batts - they've put all their energy and resources into laying, so the first thing for them is to strengthen their bones (especially legs - right now they're too weak to perch) and refeather. So they need extra protein and calcium (obv I've got grit for them and I've been recommended to feed a little natural yogurt for the calcium and probiotics). But I'd seen a few people say not to do the cat food thing.

Thanks for the tip with the mealworms! So it sounds like I could hand feed those to get the hens used to me smile.png

Also - great idea with sprouts. I'm planning to sprout some seeds and beans for myself so when they grow I'll offer some to the hens. I don't have space to grow them as fodder tho hmm.png

Thank you for your replies. smile.png
post #4 of 5
Wonder if a ration such as Nutrena's Feather Fixer wouldn't be a good idea? From what I can tell, it has equivalent calcium level to a layer formula, but higher protein.
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by techiebabe View Post

Great, thanks! Their food is layers crumbles... When I opened the bag I had to double check that it was food and not sand or something. It looks very dull.
They won't mind. It might be more fun to peck and scratch about, but the boring-looking stuff is a reliable source of food. Kinda like Weetabix.

Clean and finely crush some eggshells and leave them in a pot, free choice. The layer feed does have calcium in it, but the chickens might want more while they're building their bones back up.
Quote:
I was advised about the cat food with them being ex-batts - they've put all their energy and resources into laying, so the first thing for them is to strengthen their bones (especially legs - right now they're too weak to perch) and refeather. So they need extra protein and calcium (obv I've got grit for them and I've been recommended to feed a little natural yogurt for the calcium and probiotics). But I'd seen a few people say not to do the cat food thing.
I would skip the corn, if you're looking to increase the protein in their diet. I would also skip the dry cat food, because you can do better than processed meat-infused biscuits.

Liver is a good meat, even if it does pong a bit when you're preparing it (probably not much worse than cat food though). I'm going to recommend against feeding it raw, at least until your chickens have had a chance to adjust their immune systems to the outside world. Cook it gently, cut it into beak-sized pieces, and feed each chicken individually, out of sight and reach of the others. They will probably go absolutely bonkers over it, and you don't want them having an opportunity to injure each other in the excitement.
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