Am I An Enabler?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ShelterFarm, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. ShelterFarm

    ShelterFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    I've been thinking about feeding - I have sixteen chickens that all free-range all day long on our 3 acre property which is surrounded by soybean fields and features apple, mulberry and other trees as well as a pond - so the flock has a relatively limitless source of foraging foods - I currently feed them a 25/75 cracked corn and layer feed blend that they have full access to during the day, and we give them table scraps and stale bread every few days. We also crush up used eggshells and blend that into the feed and put some of it in their bedding to dig for. We have solid egg production with very few "bad eggs".

    Have I been spoiling my flock by feeding them as much as they'll eat? Would it be better to restrict their feed access to only a few hours a day (in the evening, for example) and force them to forage the rest of the time? Will they naturally "step-up" their foraging in such a circumstance?

    Would love to hear what others think about this topic...

    R-
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    I fed my hens much the same and they free ranged on pastures, but I found when I leave extra food or feed a lot they lay less. As soon as I started rationing their food egg production went up by 30%. [​IMG] I fed them 3x a day, enough to fill their crops every time.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I've always given mine free access to feed and not had any problems. Do you feel you're going through an excessive amount of feed? I've read that 1/4-1/3 cup per layer per day is average.
     
  4. ShelterFarm

    ShelterFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2012
    Clayton, Ohio
    It's not as much about how much feed I'm using - it's more about what expectations should I have for them given the fact that they're free-rangers compared to being stuck in a run. Should I withhold the constant supply of feed and force them to forage more?
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Depends, do you mind seeing a drop in egg production? The expectations of modern layers are dependent on modern nutrition. They just can't lay an egg a day consistently, and be healthy, on free range.

    You can always try cutting back by 1/4 of the feed or so. See what happens. It's not like you're going to damage them, just keep an eye on production and overall health.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  6. Back on the Farm

    Back on the Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
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    Mine do both free range and are contained in the run... they get to free range in the fall, winter, and early spring. During the summer they are penned up in a large run because I can't have them tearing up and eating my veggie garden. With that being said, I make sure that the feed bucket is always full - whether they are free ranging or penned up. I have noticed that when they free range, they eat less feed. When they are in the run, they eat more feed and have to depend on me for scraps. In both situations, I've not noticed a drop in egg production. When they free range I hardly see them at the feed bin - early morning and then right before they roost in the coop at night. During the day they are feasting on whatever they find around the farm. In the summer they are running in and out of the coop to get to the feed bin and I have to fill it daily.

    I'm of the firm believer to leave feed for them - they'll know if they need it or not. Besides, we all like a little variety in what we eat and from what I've seen of my chickens, they do too.
     

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