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3 failed attempts at FF with my hens. Should I give it another shot with my new chicks?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ChickenHawk12, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love the IDEA of FF, especially since I feed the Scratch and Peck which is a whole-grain unprocessed feed. But I have tried at least 3 times over the past year and a half, and no matter what I do, my hens refuse to eat it. It was nothing but a PITA just so that they would refuse. It would sit there for 2 days even if I didn't give them other food.

    So I've been feeding them the S&P feed dry, which has a ton of fines that they leave uneaten. Each day, I empty the fines from the feeder into a rubber bowl and wet it down and mix it up until it's sticking together, kind of like moist granola consistency. They will eat some of that, but not all of it, even if I don't give them more food. I switched to pellets and also tried crumbles but I just felt icky about it, it stunk, they stunk, the run stunk, and I didn't feel they were as healthy.

    I now have six 3-week-old chicks that I'm feeding S&P chick feed to, but I'm thinking about trying the FF with them. The feed is expensive, and I know FF will make it last a little longer, plus I thought maybe if I got them early I could get them to eat it before they got too picky and maybe the other 3 hens would follow their lead......

    Should I give it another shot? Any tips? I really wasn't pleased with the results from my other attempts, but I WANT it to work...
     
  2. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    S & P doesn't have the nutrients that layers or chicks need to thrive. Even if you successfully ferment it you will need to add a lot of supplements to bring it up nutritionally. I have to think that if your chickens wouldn't eat your ff, then there was something wrong with it. You might try one more time- this time go small, take a glass container and fill 1/2 way with the scratch, then fill with very warm water, adding water as the grain swells so there is about 1" of water over the top of the grain. Keep it in a warm place for 3 or 4 days or until bubbles when stirred. Add supplements (I use calf manna and brewers yeast, because I also feed layer) . Feed it before you offer other food, if they won't eat it I would give up on ff. If they will eat the ff, you are going to have to supplement by giving them at least 1 lb of 45% protein with vitamins & minerals for every 3 lbs of ff.
     
  3. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Why do you say that S&P doesn't have the nutrients they need?
     
  4. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scratch and Peck is a brand. I'm not feeding them scratch. I'm feeding the chicks chick feed and the hens layer feed
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The problem isn't with the feed. From what I've read, Scratch and Peck feed products are superior quality and chickens love them.

    However, getting chickens to make a big change in anything requires gradual introduction and patience.

    While continuing to feed the original form, try offering small amounts of the FF alongside it. Chickens are more likely to agree to a change if they have the familiar to rely on while they get used to the new.

    Also, it's a fallacy that FF has to have a layer of liquid over the top. I mix my FF on the dry side, more like the consistency of thick cooked oatmeal, and it never has any layer of water sitting on the top. It ferments just as quickly mixed either on the dry side or the sloppy wet side. It's strictly your choice and what your chickens prefer.

    If they don't seem to like their FF on the wet, sloppy side, try mixing it with less liquid. Also, I can get a full ferment quicker with subsequent batches by using two buckets. I feed out one bucket but I don't rinse it except for washing the residue down on the sides, retaining the rinse liquid in the bucket. Every time I feed out of the new bucket, I rinse the bowl that I carry to the feeders in the run and dump the rinse water into the empty bucket. This serves to encourage the culture in this rinse liquid so when I add dry feed to it, it's already well on the way to full ferment.

    The new bucket is then ready to feed within 24-30 hours.
     
  6. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't realize s &p was a brand name. And when you also stated it was made from whole grains, I assumed you were feeding scratch. The easiest way for a newbie to ferment is to cover the grain with water. I drain before feeding and just top off the new mix to keep it under water. It ferments in a day that way. Once you know what you are doing, you can make changes and be able to tell if it doesn't work as well. Without covering it with water, how do you keep the air from contaminating the feed? Fermentation is an anaerobic process. By covering the feed with water you prevent bacteria that causes spoilage.
     
  7. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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  8. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmmm...when I make a sourdough starter, it doesn't have a layer of water on top and ferments just fine. It should be the same process, no?

    Maybe I will try it on the dry siderase and give it one more shot....
     
  9. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I too was having the issue with Scratch & Peck and all the dang fines! Some of my girls took a long time to start laying and I wonder now if it was from not getting all the fines all the time. What worked for me was going from dry to slightly moistened to a little more moistened. I do what azygous does--I have a very large jar on the counter that I use but I don't overfill with water either. Without rinsing the jar in between, in 24 hours it will ferment. I fill to about an inch over with water setting and it absorbs all that within a few hours. Doesn't ever get sloppy wet.
     
  10. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I used to make FF wetter but found azygous (Going drier, thank you) is alot "cleaner" for chicks down & older ones like it. I have found different makes = different ratio. DuMor crumbles I've mixed 1:1 however Flock Raiser is 4:3 and Chick Starter I was doing 1:1 but next time will be mixing less water for sure.

    Not familiar with Scratch & Peck but doing FF (crumbes) the fines are not a problem at all, nothing wasted. Here in Hawaii we don't have much choice and no mills to select our grains :( We do the best we can. Any recommendations for "the best" Chick Starter? Flock or Multi Flock? Layer Feed?

    I raise mine on Purina Chick Starter, then switch to Layer (Home Grow, recently DuMor) but read Flock Raiser can be used with Oyster Shells on the side. My girls are 34wks (Blue Wynadottes, got them a month ago & weren't laying) still not laying. Had them on DuMor Layer (oyster shells on the side ) but put them on Flock Raiser for the protein, they'll lay when ready. Sorry didn't mean to hijack this thread....
     

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