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Grains, Corn and Scratch

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

im just curious, does anyone strictly feed  their chickens  natural Grains, corn and scratch?  I know that alot say if you just feed scratch Your chickens get fat, but heck, what did they eat 100 - 200 yrs ago?   They were free ranged  and  ate  grains, seeds and corn.


simplycreative


Edited by simplycreative - 3/1/10 at 10:00am
http://creativelywoven.com/

Artist/craftswoman, wife to a wonderfull man, mother to 3 amazing children, caregiver to 2 cats, 2 dogs, and starting flocks of chickens.
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http://creativelywoven.com/

Artist/craftswoman, wife to a wonderfull man, mother to 3 amazing children, caregiver to 2 cats, 2 dogs, and starting flocks of chickens.
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post #2 of 23

I don't see any reason why you can't feed chickens scratch only. Sure they'll live but they won't be in 100% top shape like they would be if you fed them layer crumbles/kitchen scraps/insects. Plus their eggs will be more healthy and might even taste a tad better. Chickens back then could careless about what they wanted to eat, they just wanted to live and reproduce. Chickens back then probably didn't live longer than 2-3 years.

Ducks rule, but so do chickens. Proud owner of one female pekin named Sunny.
3 RIR/PRs and 2 EEs. 5 hens 28+ weeks old and almost full size! Please visit my dragons
http://dragcave.net/user/Pet_Duck_Boy114
I'm the Cocky Cockeral of BYC!
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Ducks rule, but so do chickens. Proud owner of one female pekin named Sunny.
3 RIR/PRs and 2 EEs. 5 hens 28+ weeks old and almost full size! Please visit my dragons
http://dragcave.net/user/Pet_Duck_Boy114
I'm the Cocky Cockeral of BYC!
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post #3 of 23

Back in the day poultry was mostly a clean up crew.  In the spring and summer you got eggs when the range was good and maybe some fryers as well.  Come fall when the range began to play out so did the eggs and you'd eat the old hens and save the young ones.  Few to no eggs from late fall through to about mid-spring.  Whatever the birds could find to eat was needed just to stay alive on.

It'll work just as well today which is the problem.

If you have good range and enough of it then a free-ranging flock can usually find enough protein, vitamins, and most minerals to get by on and will only need a little grain for their carbohydrate calories.  If you have good range and enough of it.

But along about mid-summer to sometime in the fall (depends on where you live) the range begins to get poor.  Slim pickings for a hard working bird.  Just grain will keep them alive, but chances are you won't get a lot of eggs and you won't get good growth in young birds.

What I prefer to do is to hang a feeder of a complete ration, a second of whole grains (I'm using mostly corn with a bit of wheat now) and let the birds choose for themselves.  If the range is good and they're finding enough bugs, tender grasses, and that sort of thing they won't eat much of the complete ration and only moderately from the grain and I'll get lots of eggs.  If range is poor they'll eat more of the complete ration and grain and I'll still get lots of eggs.

.....Alan.

Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Chance favors the prepared mind.
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post #4 of 23

I think your question is based on the assumption that the agriculturist of 100 or 200 years ago knew nothing of nutrition or that the birds were just left to fend for themselves.  These animals have been domesticated for many thousands of years, meaning that people have been breeding and caring for these animals for a very, very long time.  Even to a farmer a few thousand years ago, it would be obvious that certain species eat certain things and animals that eat specific things tend to do better than others.

So what did these birds survive on 100-200 years ago?  Grains, legumes, vegetables, meat and slaughter scraps, dairy products, leftovers from the kitchen table, and whatever else they could scrounge in fair weather.  The bottom line is they were fed a variety of food stuffs that provided for their needs.  Perhaps it is only in our modern culture where people are so far removed from agricultural practices of the past and suspicious enough of prepared feed in a bag that one would even contemplate feeding grains only.

I have a large number of birds in organic production.  They are fed a freshly milled ration of expelled soybean, corn, wheat, field peas, and vitamin and mineral supplements.  What is missing from a ration of grains or scratch only?  The extra protein needed for good production and the vitamin and mineral supplements.  In the summertime, they could probably get the protein, vitamins, and minerals from eating bugs, plants, and earth, but in the wintertime, especially in northern climates, they would be hard pressed to get what they need and are reliant on us to supply them.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank You so much for the replies.  Im sory if i sounded simplistic.

I guess what i meant was,  are there those who feed a more natural organic based  diet of seeds, grains and corn to their chickens instead of useing alot of the pelleted proccessed  food for the chickens.  It seems  all the grains and such that go into that would loose alot of their vitamins and minerals due to the cooking, grinding, mashing and pelleting of them. 

I know they need protein and green grasses.  Ive been doing a little researching about fish meal and sprouting the seeds and grains for them.  These seem it would be more natural and nutrusious to their little bodies.   i do love to grow things and was thinking of growing some of the things they could eat, sunflower seeds, soy beans and try some grains.  They will be able to free range here and there when i can supervise them and make sure they are safe and sound.  We need to fence in the property, 8 acres,  and there are alot of loose and roaming packs of dogs out here where we live. 

By no means did i wish to imply that the the farmers of a couple hundred yrs ago were ignorant to the diet needs of their chickens.  I dont think its something i can do right off the bat, but im hoping it is something i can work up to.


simplycreative

http://creativelywoven.com/

Artist/craftswoman, wife to a wonderfull man, mother to 3 amazing children, caregiver to 2 cats, 2 dogs, and starting flocks of chickens.
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http://creativelywoven.com/

Artist/craftswoman, wife to a wonderfull man, mother to 3 amazing children, caregiver to 2 cats, 2 dogs, and starting flocks of chickens.
Reply
post #6 of 23

Farmers of a couple hundred years ago were ignorant of their chickens dietary needs as anyone who reads poultry books from the nineteenth and earliest twentieth centuries could tell you.  Not completely ignorant, but there was a lot they did not know and did not find out until after the turn of the twentieth century.  They didn't really figure it all out until the mid-fifties or so which conincidentally is when large scale confinement operations became technically possible.  Before then they simply had to raise their birds on grass for at least a significant part of their lives because it was the only way they could provide the known and unknown necessary nutrients.  They still fed grains and prepared mash feeds because the birds could not get everything they needed from pasture alone.  They had to use them both together.

And that can and still does work today.  Feed your birds a complete ration and give them access to fresh grass every day.  You'll find a tremendous improvement over even the best of what you can buy in the grocery store.

I have a lot of predator pressure myself and a lack of strong fencing.  So what I do is keep my birds in tractors which I move every day.  When I'm home to keep an eye on things I can let them out for some real free-ranging.  When I'm not they stay in the tractors, but as they are moved daily they're still get access to fresh pasture every day.  It's been over three years now since I built the first real tractor (as opposed to merely a portable coop) and I haven't lost a bird to a predator in one yet.  I have to let them out for that to happen!

.....Alan.

Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Chance favors the prepared mind.
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post #7 of 23

I mix my feed from these ingredients, 500 pounds cracked corn, 100 pounds wheat, 100 pounds oats, 100-200 pounds pelleted layer feed, and sometimes 100 pounds milo.  I feed this year around and my flock does great.  I do allow my flock to free range during the summer, but they are locked up all winter and I still get very good egg amounts.  In addition they get all the table scraps that we have.

Live life to the fullest everyday!!!!
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Live life to the fullest everyday!!!!
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post #8 of 23

I feed my RIR hen pure scratch and oyster shells and she also free-ranged all day and she lays 6 days out of the week and she about 5 years old and still going strong. Waiting for my 22 chicks to reach 10 weeks then their going to be given scratch. It's way cheaper to feed scratch and I haven't seen a draw back. People have other opinions and would disagree to what i fed.

post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliRooster 

I feed my RIR hen pure scratch and oyster shells and she also free-ranged all day and she lays 6 days out of the week and she about 5 years old and still going strong. Waiting for my 22 chicks to reach 10 weeks then their going to be given scratch. It's way cheaper to feed scratch and I haven't seen a draw back. People have other opinions and would disagree to what i fed.


Being able to free range all day will make a difference. Especially around here--lots of good stuff for them year-round. Looks like you're just across the Valley from me big_smile

I live on 10 acres in beautiful Central California with my DH, pets, & chickens
22 Barnevelder chicks in my coop!
My fireworks stand converted to coop project:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=5043185#p5043185
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I live on 10 acres in beautiful Central California with my DH, pets, & chickens
22 Barnevelder chicks in my coop!
My fireworks stand converted to coop project:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=5043185#p5043185
Reply
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliRooster 

I feed my RIR hen pure scratch and oyster shells and she also free-ranged all day and she lays 6 days out of the week and she about 5 years old and still going strong. Waiting for my 22 chicks to reach 10 weeks then their going to be given scratch. It's way cheaper to feed scratch and I haven't seen a draw back. People have other opinions and would disagree to what i fed.


Free-ranging is what saves your feeding program smile Otherwise it probably wouldn't work well for you.

Wife to a wonderful chicken tolerant husband, mommy to a 4 year old princess and a brand new baby girl, owner of too many dogs, one mean bunny, lots of guineas, and not enough chickens!
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Wife to a wonderful chicken tolerant husband, mommy to a 4 year old princess and a brand new baby girl, owner of too many dogs, one mean bunny, lots of guineas, and not enough chickens!
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