Beginner Questions

K0k0shka

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However, corn can raise their body temperatures and shouldn't be used when very warm outside.
This isn't actually true. It's an old wives' tale. Corn shouldn't be fed in large quantities because it's not good nutritionally, it has nothing to do with heat.

The DR is hot, the chickens are probably panting because they are hot. People have given you good answers.
 

K0k0shka

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Indeed, chickens have not become extinct here after 500 years, in spite of the heat, and most eat nothing but corn their entire lives . . .
Chickens have never been so pampered in their history as they are today in American backyards ;) Historically, nobody has cared about the percentage of protein they ate, or whether their feed was organic. Chickens were recyclers, eating food waste that people threw at them, and whatever they could scavenge. And they survived. BUT. The important difference here is that their lifespans weren't long. Nobody expected them to live for 10-15 years and be healthy pets that didn't rack up vet bills. They just had to make it for a couple of years before being turned into soup. That's a pretty low bar. Chickens can survive for a couple of years on very low quality crap. The problems of improper diet need time to catch up to them - time they didn't have, so it didn't matter. Today, people raising chickens as pets or as a backyard hobby, want to squeeze ever more out of them, so a healthy diet is more important. So they watch the protein percentages and the nutrition labels. That's why it really depends on what your own chickens' purpose is. Are you going to cycle them every year or two when their laying slows down, and eat the retirees? Or are you looking to extend their lives so they can be family pets for a decade? This, plus the availability of feeds, will guide your decision as to what to feed them. If you live in a poor area and are struggling to provide clean water, I'd say focus on your family. The chickens will be fine on whatever you can manage, and when they stop being fine, eat them and get new ones.
 

linuxusr

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This isn't actually true. It's an old wives' tale. Corn shouldn't be fed in large quantities because it's not good nutritionally, it has nothing to do with heat.

The DR is hot, the chickens are probably panting because they are hot. People have given you good answers.
Yes, I'm very pleased with the answers people have given me. And I've been observing the correlation between rate of respiration, extent of beaks open, and the heat. They do compensate when it is hot. They do have shade and plenty of clean water so that's the best one can do.
 

U_Stormcrow

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there's some literature, not a lot (and I'm not yet convinced of its veracity) which suggests thatr the normal metabolic processes for converting high carb feeds like corn into energy are exothermic (that is, the heat the chicken up), while the metabolic processes for converting fat into energy are not - and that, therefore, one should favor more fat in the diet (while maintaining the same total energy value by cutting carbs) to assist your birds in high heat environments/seasons.

Assuming that's true, eating corn makes them hotter is a true statement - but so does oats, barley, sorghum, wheat, etc... and even the higher fat diet one of the studies recommended was only a few more percent - nothing like what you find in BOSS or even mealworms. Its not a radical rethink, its a tweak that's likely only valuable at commercial scale.

So you could both be right, from a certain point of view. An answer which was just as disappointing when Obi Wan said it.
 

U_Stormcrow

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Chickens have never been so pampered in their history as they are today in American backyards ;) Historically, nobody has cared about the percentage of protein they ate, or whether their feed was organic. Chickens were recyclers, eating food waste that people threw at them, and whatever they could scavenge. And they survived. BUT. The important difference here is that their lifespans weren't long. Nobody expected them to live for 10-15 years and be healthy pets that didn't rack up vet bills. They just had to make it for a couple of years before being turned into soup. That's a pretty low bar. Chickens can survive for a couple of years on very low quality crap. The problems of improper diet need time to catch up to them - time they didn't have, so it didn't matter. Today, people raising chickens as pets or as a backyard hobby, want to squeeze ever more out of them, so a healthy diet is more important. So they watch the protein percentages and the nutrition labels. That's why it really depends on what your own chickens' purpose is. Are you going to cycle them every year or two when their laying slows down, and eat the retirees? Or are you looking to extend their lives so they can be family pets for a decade? This, plus the availability of feeds, will guide your decision as to what to feed them. If you live in a poor area and are struggling to provide clean water, I'd say focus on your family. The chickens will be fine on whatever you can manage, and when they stop being fine, eat them and get new ones.

First, I love this. as I am sometimes guilty of forgetting that the typical needs and desires of a backyard owner are not everyone's needs and desires as a backyard owner. Embarassing, as my needs differ, and I'm frequently recomending feeding practices I don't use myself.

Second, one addition. Be aware that the production breeds of even thirty years ago dramatically underperformed the expectations of today, and the heritage birds of a hundred years ago, before feed science, battery hens, and purpose built structures to optimize their econoic value dramatically underperformed those birds.

You *can* force birds to forage for near 100% of ther feed, supplimented by kitchen scraps, missed feed from other livestock, etc. What you cannot, (reasonably) do is expect those birds to lay large eggs five or six days out of seven, or gain five, six pounds in their first months of life, to provide a tender and substantial meat at table just four months after hatch.

But the more we know about your circumstances and expectations @linuxusr , the better we will be able to either provide useful knowledge and experience, or know to bow out of the conversation.

There is no "one right way". There are, unfortunately thousands of wrong ways.
 
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3KillerBs

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You *can* force birds to forage for near 100% of ther feed, supplimented by kitchen scraps, missed feed from other livestock, etc. What you cannot, (reasonably) do is expect those birds to lay large eggs five or six days out of seven, or gain five, six pounds in their first month of life, to provide a tender and substantial meat at table just four months after hatch.

Yes.

When a member posted a chicken-keeping book from 1921 -- a book of up-to-date Ag Science aimed at serious farmers looking to make chickens profitable -- I was stunned to read that the target for the carefully-selected and managed flock was 100 eggs per hen per year ...

from LEGHORNS!

I expect that from my Brahma -- who is not a particularly good layer even for that breed.
 

K0k0shka

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Second, one addition. Be aware that the production breeds of even thirty years ago dramatically underperformed the expectations of today, and the heritage birds of a hundred years ago, before feed science, battery hens, and purpose built structures to optimize their econoic value dramatically underperformed those birds.
Oh absolutely! Expectations are high nowadays - not only that they live long, but that they produce staggering amounts of eggs. You need a good diet for that.


When a member posted a chicken-keeping book from 1921 -- a book of up-to-date Ag Science aimed at serious farmers looking to make chickens profitable -- I was stunned to read that the target for the carefully-selected and managed flock was 100 eggs per hen per year ...
I visited my late grandparents’ house this summer, and while nostalgically rummaging through a bookshelf, I found a poultry guide from 1961. I was shocked to read that RIRs were considered high production hens at 150 eggs per year! Made me feel so sorry for present day production animals. We are sucking the life out of them ☹️ When I came back, I went and hugged my very pampered, spoiled backyard princesses who have hatched under a lucky star.
 

3KillerBs

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Oh absolutely! Expectations are high nowadays - not only that they live long, but that they produce staggering amounts of eggs. You need a good diet for that.



I visited my late grandparents’ house this summer, and while nostalgically rummaging through a bookshelf, I found a poultry guide from 1961. I was shocked to read that RIRs were considered high production hens at 150 eggs per year! Made me feel so sorry for present day production animals. We are sucking the life out of them ☹️ When I came back, I went and hugged my very pampered, spoiled backyard princesses who have hatched under a lucky star.

I would sooooo love to read that book!
 

linuxusr

Chirping
Jan 1, 2021
62
120
78
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Chickens have never been so pampered in their history as they are today in American backyards ;) Historically, nobody has cared about the percentage of protein they ate, or whether their feed was organic. Chickens were recyclers, eating food waste that people threw at them, and whatever they could scavenge. And they survived. BUT. The important difference here is that their lifespans weren't long. Nobody expected them to live for 10-15 years and be healthy pets that didn't rack up vet bills. They just had to make it for a couple of years before being turned into soup. That's a pretty low bar. Chickens can survive for a couple of years on very low quality crap. The problems of improper diet need time to catch up to them - time they didn't have, so it didn't matter. Today, people raising chickens as pets or as a backyard hobby, want to squeeze ever more out of them, so a healthy diet is more important. So they watch the protein percentages and the nutrition labels. That's why it really depends on what your own chickens' purpose is. Are you going to cycle them every year or two when their laying slows down, and eat the retirees? Or are you looking to extend their lives so they can be family pets for a decade? This, plus the availability of feeds, will guide your decision as to what to feed them. If you live in a poor area and are struggling to provide clean water, I'd say focus on your family. The chickens will be fine on whatever you can manage, and when they stop being fine, eat them and get new ones.
Thanks for this. Back to the question of diet and the fact that here in the Dominican Republic the diet consists entirely of corn. which lacks sufficient protein, I have having success augmenting with a moistened dog food that has crude protein of 22%. At first, they wouldn't touch it. I thought I'd give them 24 hours without any other food and then cross that bridge. After a few hours, they ate all! And the next day, today, they quickly ate all! So I'm very happy about that.

In one of the lectures I listened to on the chicken digestive system I was informed that chickens do not have taste, at least now when they ingest. Mammals, of course, have a gag/vomit reflex which allows them/us to regurgitate, or just spit out, anything with a bad taste. If what I heard is true that chickens do not have taste, then I wonder how they distinguish good from bad, what to eat and what not to eat.

Meanwhile, I have tried five or six different vegetables--beets, cucumber, egg plant, carrots, bananas--so far they won't touch anything, and these things are still uneaten the next day. I'm wondering how I can vary their diets if they are rejecting all the vegetables I offer. Just keep trying?
 

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