another newbie

old fashioned

In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 30, 2009
Tacoma, Washington
Hi all. We (myself, husband of 18 years, 2 sons at home ages 10 & 8) just recently (Sept 14) aquired 3 red sex link hens and 1 bantam rock rooster, all 1+ years old. I've read and researched alot of info on raising chickens for years, but hands on is a real learning curve!

Our intention in the begining was to get some eggs, maybe naturally hatched chicks and eventually soup. But within 48 hours, we were all in love and don't care much anymore if we even get eggs or not. It took that long only because the first day was getting them a temporary shelter set up until a more proper one built. By the second day we had more time to spend with them and learn their behaviors. By then, we broke the #1 cardinal rule of possibly processing and named them. So we now have "Road Runner" the roo, "Strip" who's bottom half looks stripped of feathers, "Popcorn" who has some skin and some feathers underneath-looks like popcorn stuck to her butt and then, last but not least, is "Nugget" who seems to have all her feathers. When I asked the previous owners about them molting, they said they weren't sure because they have 30+ chickens. They kept all their chickens within a large enclosed run with maybe occaisional free range of their yard.
The first 10 days we were getting one egg every day, two eggs every other day-1,2,1,2,1,2 etc. and were giving the feed that came with the chickens and I bought 10lb bag of layer crumble free choice. They didn't seem overly interested in any of it. Maybe because of the new environment and now had all day access to free range and only penned up at night.
From people I've talked too, or read here in forum or other research about chicken feed requirements/practices-seems to me there are as many differences as number of chicken owners. Yes I've seen the do/don't charts posted. So informed, I've tried formulating my own feed to ensure they get plenty of protein, calcium, vitamins and other nutrients. Grit can be obtained from ranging/foraging in the garden dirt/rocks/pebbles and even used coffee grounds. Protein and calcium can be obtained from the bugs (shelled kinds) and whatever in the dirt. Plus the grass, weeds, plants provide greens with vitamins. No, I don't rely on this as their only source of feed although I have known some people who have never "fed" their chickens and only let them forage.
But searching my cupboards, pantry, garden and grocery store shelves, below are some of the things I have mixed up for our "babies". I only pick a few of these at a time to mix together as a feed.

Sunflower seeds-grey stripe from garden(don't have BOSS yet)
Fruits & veggies-garden and kitchen scraps
Soy flour-35% protein, 1/4 c. or less
Scrambled eggs-just seems wrong, but is protein
Corn-corn on cob from garden, corn chex cereal
Cracked wheat-organic from grocery store
Pearl Barley-cooked
Black Beans-cooked
Garlic-was chopped fresh (heard was good for immune systems, but may flavor eggs) used sparingly
12 grain bread-good grain mix
Plain yogurt-calcium
Cottage cheese-calcium
Ground eggshells-grit, calcium
Used coffee grounds-about 1 Tbls for grit
Peanuts, Walnuts, Almonds-have in freezer, not used yet.
Wild bird seed-does have BOSS
Layer crumble-has been provided free choice, also mix some in homemade mix daily.

I figure as long as I pick something from protein, calcium, grit, grain, fruit/veggie choices they should be about covered in nutrition. Yesterday I went to feed store and read labels and came away unsure if even the organic feed ingredient list was comparable to hot dogs or twinkies. I'm not sure I like anything that says "by-products" or "processed" or "crude". I know in dog/cat and people food this really means something other than what it's describing. Even labels with "organic" really aren't what we're lead to believe.
Anyway, day 10 I started mixing my own stuff and since then have been getting 2 eggs per day (maybe coincidence). And all chickens look, act and behave normal and healthy. Nugget does have me wondering. She seems to be the outsider of the group. Acts more like an individual than following the crowd. I'm pretty sure she is the hold out on egg laying, strange since she is the only one with all feathers-but maybe hasn't yet molted. Her comb and wattle is bright red and perky, eyes are alert, walks, runs and dances (scratches in dirt) like the rest. Last night boys and I went to the pen to do a little chicken squeezin and vent inspection to see if she was egg bound-we checked all 3 hens to feel for comparison-all fine. Poop is normal (checked online chart). It's just that she does stay more to herself, and sleeps in nest (others on roost). Maybe she is just that way, kinda like my 8 yo-the day dreaming tag along always bringing up the rear-go figure. And I promise not to be soo long winded in future posts. Can you tell I'm excited about our birds? Thanks to all.
I'm new the the world of Chickens! I'll be getting 8 chicks mid October. 1 orpington, 1 easter egger, 1 dominique and 5 silkie bantams! Can't wait. I will be relying on all of your knowledge for help and advice.

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