A Little Experiment with Food

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by homesteadmomma, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. homesteadmomma

    homesteadmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since I rescued the last set of chickens, I thought I would try a little food experiment. Since I have the quarantined birds on the opposite side of the property that my original flock is on, I think I can pull this off fairly easily. So the plan is to take my original flock and keep them on the same diet they are currently on. They are free ranged daily and then they also get feed, which I believe is 18% protein. They get free choice and they also have a flock block and get some leftovers from the house.

    Group two are the birds in quarantine. They get the exact same diet as stated above, except they are, what I consider, restricted range. They have a lot less area to roam because it is fenced, and they aren't out but a few hours each night. They do have a very large run with lots of grass, weeds, flowers, and bugs. They also get more garden scraps and leftovers. When they reach their 30 day quarantine date, they will be able to free range as well. Approx. 2 weeks from now.

    So the plan is when the quarantine period is up, I will weigh each and every bird. They are all approx the same age +/- 2 weeks.

    Group one will continue on their diet they are on, but I will measure out the amount of scraps they get, and keep note of what they are given. I will not weigh out feed, leaving them to eat what they want.

    Group two will be left out to free range and will not be given a supplemental feed, but will get more nutritious treats that are higher in protein, and will also have use of the food plot, which contains peas, wheat, clover, sorghum, and brassicas.

    I will weigh each bird twice per week to make sure that group two is not being underfed, and will also note if any are acting different. I will keep this up for one month unless weight loss or overall health is an issue.

    Does anyone have any issues that they see here, or anyone have any guesses on outcomes? Any way that I could make this more scientific?
     
  2. kera!

    kera! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let Us Know When Your Done... Are You Trying To See Who Gains The Best, Lay The Best, Cost The Least?
     
  3. homesteadmomma

    homesteadmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When dealing with a flock of 80, cost was definitely my first thinking, but it's not necessity, meaning that I can afford to feed all of them around the clock with a decent feed all year. But all of mine seem to prefer the easiest way to eat, and will free range better if they are on a limited feed diet, so if they each get say 1/4 per bird each morning and then run out, the will free range longer and farther from the coop. I do have a few that blow off food in efforts to be the first out of the run in the morning, and rarely see them eat feed. So I thought if they weren't given the quick easy meal, that they would possibly eat more of what they needed vs what they wanted. Does that make sense? I would like to see who lays the best out of the two groups, but the majority are all about 2 to 6 weeks from laying if I had to guess, so I might have to take my experiment dates out a bit farther if the weather and greenery allow me to do so. Since I have a ton of roosters, weight gain is also important. To me the less I have to feed to get a plump chicken sooner is better. Most important obviously is the health of both flocks, so I will be watching for pale combs, lethargic birds, any signs of stress, weight loss, etc.
     
  4. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member

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    It often will depend on breed and ratio of hens to roos.
    My free range birds (8 acres) have very few roos in the flock (3 roos for 60 hens), are free choice fed layer mash and table scraps but are bred for high egg yields. These birds are a mix of breeds that are often from my breeder pens and not up to snuff for the breeding program. However, I also have sex links.
    My breeder birds are penned in tractors we move quite often, are fed a diet of layer and starter mix and are given only bread as snacks a few times a week, which they seem to gorge themselves on so I limit the amount. I also will add more whole grains to their diet since they cannot free range as much.
    I have 10 breeds in pens and they vary in weight depending on the breeds. I have to watch my bantam Cochins because they will get too fat, whereas my Marans can consume all I give them with little weight gain.
    My free range roos are a lot less weighty because they are constantly watching over all those hens and running to keep them all in line or help find goodies. My breeder birds lounge a good bit. However, those Marans are big hefty birds and I know because I have one I have to lift up every night to the roosting board. His weight is monitored daily obviously. However, the free range Marans roo isn't very hefty at all. Weighing in a lot less but still gorgeous in his plumage.

    Have fun with your experiment. So many factors can change things. It will be fun to discover the ever changing ways of your flocks.
     
  5. homesteadmomma

    homesteadmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So perhaps I should split my groups into four, say group one is half of my pullets plus one rooster, group two, the other half with one rooster, and say group 3 with half of the rest of the roosters and group 4 with the remaining roosters? Keep one group of pullets and roosters on their current diet, the others with no supplemental feed, and keep them all separated? I think I might be able to do that if I can whip up some temp. coops for the free range birds that will not need a large run.
     
  6. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    You might get better information if you divided the "rescue" group into two roughly matched flocks and controlled for other factors (ie: same general environment, space per bird, initial size, age, gender - obviously) than to try to compare your own well- cared-for existing flock with this new one which perhaps came from less than ideal beginnings (since you had to rescue them) and may have some catching up to do. It would be good to know, though - hope you post your results.
     

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