Am I feeding them enough?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by shegeekster, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. shegeekster

    shegeekster Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2012
    Northern Michigan
    Hi...Since we're in the midst of winter here, the hens seem to have changed their minds about what tastes good.

    No more fruit and veggies for them, they seem manic about birdseed, now.

    I think that I give my hens a good diet, but...I am not sure if I am giving them enough food, because it's very cold out, and because they seem to always be STARVING, or if it's the right things?

    So here is what I give them, like I said I think it's pretty healthy, but please let me know the amounts and such, in case I'm underfeeding? They seem skinny, not plump like I think they should be esp. in winter. I have four young adult hens, still laying almost daily even tho it's midwinter.

    Daily, in the a.m.:
    • Layer crumbles. Always available in a automatic dispensing feeder, I just keep it full.
    • water (duh) [​IMG]
    • A "scratch" grain which in my case is "homemade" consisting of: wild bird food blended with dried mealworms, cracked corn, grass seed, and poultry grit. 2 cups a day at least.
    • A small amount (1/2 cup) of hamburger/brown rice/veggie mix that I make for my dogs. They used to act like they would kill each other getting at this treat but now, not so much.
    • Corn on the cob (very lucky a local grocer still stocks this so late in the season!) One ear.
    • dried alfalfa or timothy hay, from the pet store. A handful or two tossed on the ground.
    • beyond that, it varies. I might scramble them an egg, or chop up some veggies or other meat that is available. Anything I think they might like. they love chicken legs for instance. I make them sprouts and they have those for a week at a time about every 3 weeks. I make them from a cup or so of my pigeon grain.

    They seem to be going for the dried mealworms, now. They also seem to be famished at all times...and I can refill that grain several times a day, they will eat it all. Should I just let them have as much as they want, or is there a limit? I generally feed them in the morning everything listed above, and then check later in the day a couple times to make sure their water is OK, and usually I have to give them more grains. They go wild when they see me coming and beg like mad. These are my first chickens, I don't want to be under or overfeeding or giving them the wrong balance. So any suggestions to make sure I am giving them the right amounts and the right things would be great! Thanks, all...
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  2. stevetone

    stevetone Chicken Advocate

    That's a pretty complex diet. A lot of the food choices cancel or dilute others, so it would be difficult to figure out if they are getting a balanced diet or not. Generally, the layer feed has the proper amount of everything, and too much supplementation simply throws off the nutrient ratios. Often they will just eat the "junk food" over the proper food.

    Having said that, all in our flock act like we never feed them, even though food is always available. When they decide to eat, they do so with gusto [​IMG]

    EDIT: That's a lot of extra protein you are giving them...
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  3. shegeekster

    shegeekster Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2012
    Northern Michigan
    Thanks for responding.

    See, I was wondering if I was overdoing or underdoing anything. The variety is just because I'm kind of guessing at what they should have. I feel like an unchanging diet would be inadequate, so I go for variety and hope, lol. Extra protein..you mean all the meat? It's cuz it's winter, and I was trying to make up for the absence of bugs. They are out in their yard all day long, and during the other seasons eat as many bugs as they can find. In fear of underfeeding, I may be over feeding and doing more harm than good....which is why I've asked for direction :(
     
  4. taftfarm

    taftfarm New Egg

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    Jan 4, 2013
    We have about 40 hens and 2 ducks, each evening they get 16 cups each; laying mash, cracked corn, and scratch grain. Also 4 cups of wild bird food. They get what ever scraps from the day and dinner prep. 2 times a week I put in 1 cup oyster shell, when ever I see that area of feed box is out (I always keep it in same spot). When its time to mow grass they get fresh grass clippings. The Treat for my birds are Flock Blocks, when I have some extra cash I'll get 1 or 2. They can eat 1 in about 2weeks. 15 gallons fresh water.

    I make sure my coop stays around 70 degrees in winter with heat lamps. It is also cleaned out every saturday. I fan for summer.
    I get an avarage of 2 doz eggs a day, getting 1 duck egg every other day in winter. In summer I just give up counting eggs everyday.

    The more I fuss with them the less eggs I get. When I left feed down all the time it was to costly and I didnt get that many eggs!

    Its always a science to getting your feed right, thats why I keep my chicks seperate until they are laying good then I put them in the big coop just adding that amout of feed to the bucket. Some times I have a few less eggs for a week then everything calms down and I have to many eggs again.
     
  5. shegeekster

    shegeekster Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2012
    Northern Michigan
    Thank you Taftfarm that is great info...but...16 cups each plus 4 of bird seed? Did I read that right? Or was that for your whole flock?

    Wait...am reading it differently now, I think you mean 16 cups each of mash, cracked corn, and scratch? Not 16 cups per bird. LOL I had a mild heart attack ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If they have the layer feed available all the time they're eating enough.
    Look at it this way......my kids have fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese and chicken available all the time to eat as they want. But, open a bag of chips or carton of ice cream and they're going to tell you they're starving to death!!!
     
  7. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I was wondering the exact same thing as shegeekster: am I underfeeding my chickens? Out of four hens, I often only get one or two eggs. How much should I be feeding per chicken? Keeping in mind that some eat more than their fair share.
     
  8. shegeekster

    shegeekster Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2012
    Northern Michigan
    This is my first time with chickens so every day is something new. I have found that as they are maturing, they are establishing that "pecking order." Dear Ethyl is apparently the lowest and she gets chased away from food etc. So now I have to put the food down in more than one spot, or dish, etc., to make sure they all get a fair chance at it for the reason you state - some will dominate the food bowl :( It makes it even harder to know if you are giving them enough to eat.
     
  9. shegeekster

    shegeekster Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2012
    Northern Michigan
    I hear you. But then again, the same old same old day in, day out...in warmer weather as they range about, they'd be getting quite a variety of food stuff along with the crumbles, so now in winter I hope to "fake it" for them with the right amounts, and choices. Alas I am guessing, and using something of the shotgun approach. hence the thread :)
     

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