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Best feed for chickens to live a long time??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sara1226, May 5, 2016.

  1. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have only had chickens for a year now, and our chickens are pets. We eat the eggs, but we do not butcher them. When something is wrong with them I've learned to cure many different ailments using homeopathic remedies rather than just end their life. I've read a few articles lately that layer feed is used to speed up the egg laying process, and it's healthier for hens to lay less often and they might even live longer if fed a different feed. So my question is.. what is available to feed them other than layer feed?? It might be a dumb question, but I didn't know there were other options. When I go to a feed mill they always give me one option.

    I know most people butcher their chickens and don't really care about prolonging their lives, but I find it sad that chickens are one of the most commonly abused animals on the planet, and I just want the best for my flock.

    Does anyone out there use a healthier feed than layer feed?
     
  2. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess you could go organic layer feed but I'm not sure if that is healthier than regular layer feed. It's still layer feed but using organic products. As far as I know layer feed does not speed up production of eggs. It merely replaces the calcium a laying hen loses when she lays eggs, as well as providing the vitamins, minerals and nutrition a chicken needs to stay healthy. When people want to speed up egg laying they usually add hours of light in the winter so the hens will lay consistently when there isn't much daylight. Some hens have been bred to lay a lot and many of them burn out after they are 2 years old. Those are the red stars, black stars, amber stars or whatever name the hatchery has given their sex linked super layers.

    I feed my chickens All Flock. It has everything the chickens need except the calcium for the layers. I have roosters that do not need that extra calcium. I supply calcium to the layers by offering oyster shell on the side. I have also just recently bought ducklings and goslings. The ducklings and goslings will eventually also be on All Flock. The ducklings, of course, will get the added niacin they require. The chickens also get a daily treat in the morning. It's sometimes a bit of corn, or leftovers, or watermelon rind, or meal worms. It varies from day to day and they never get more than than can eat in a few minutes. Then they have their All Flock and whatever they can find for themselves. They keep the grass short in the areas they roam.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Because of the growth in backyard/pet flocks, Purina is considering a feed for older chickens, like they have for dogs.
    Basically it will be the same but with added vitamins and minerals that older poultry may have trouble utilizing from their feed.
     
  4. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for letting me know about that. It would be great if a feed like that was available.
     
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chillin' With My Peeps

    I do care about the long term health of my flock and their happiness! Even though I will be raising meaties (I am also appalled at the chicken industry as a whole), I still treat them well. Some are pets. And I will be breeding my own. So the parents must be healthy if I wish to maintain any sort of self sufficiency. And when we do eat some, I will know they weren't raised in terrible conditions after being debeaked as you say at the hands of abusers.

    I would say "all flock" with oyster shell available on the side at all times. I agree that layer feed basically adds calcium which your hens may not need while they are not laying, say during the winter. And I think winter lighting to increase egg production would be one of the worst offenders to decrease life span (IMHO).

    You might research "fermented feed". Many on here swear by the benefits proven by their own experience. I must think their info makes sense because I started doing it a while back. My birds are all young right now so I don't have long term results, but others do. They are also thriving. It's a little more work than dry feed but I don't mind. It's supposed to increase vitamins and absorption of nutrients. Since I started, the poo has been the most noted difference. It's only runny every 10th or so, but otherwise nicely formed!

    You could also check into apple cider vinegar with "mother" for their water. There are a lot of brands that will work, so you don't have to buy the expensive 1 if you do go that route. A lot of people on here also swear buy it. Search those 2 things to help improve your flocks longevity, and see if it makes sense for you. What works for some may not work for others.

    It's awesome that you are looking for ways to provide a healthy lifestyle for your flock. Hope this info helps point you in the right direction.

    Best wishes!
     
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Probably the biggest factor in terms of feed quality will be mill date. Each bag of feed should have a date on it when it was milled. I think the standard is to use feed no older than 6 months, but I personally wouldn't use it older than 3 months. The best would be fresher than that and the absolute best would be to mill your own. But milling your own is not as easy it might sound, especially with a small back yard flock.

    The second thing is to buy organic. Not all organic is equal, so do some research as to quality of the organic ingredients.
     
  7. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for the additional suggestions. I agree about adding light during the winter. I did provide a light last winter but honestly I was new at chicken keeping and didn't know much about it. I think next winter I won't be using one. I certainly don't need to push (no pun intended) the girls to keep laying every day we have 22 chickens and only 3 of us in our family. The eggs are piling up and I can't even find enough people to give them away to. I don't want to deal with any government bs rules or fees associated with SELLING eggs.

    I considered fermented feed, but I guess I'm afraid I will do it wrong and make them sick. I don't have good luck when it comes to chickens.. I've had them less than a year and I've dealt with lice, mites, multiple injuries, sudden death, respiratory infections, Mareks disease, egg binding... And more! It's kind of crazy. When I first started out my other chicken keeping friends said it was "So easy" and all I had to do was feed them. Um.. sure... Lol
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Same here. I try not to use feed over 3 months. Commercial poultry get feed the day after it is made.
    Milling one's own feed IMHO isn't feasible. It is much more expensive and people don't have the ability to do an analysis to determine if their feed contains all the nutrients chickens are known to need at the correct ratios.
    There's a Farm&Home store near me that has their organic feed in a different aisle as all their other feed. The last time I checked, it was over 2 years old.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I really don't think adding light in winter has any effect on longevity. They will still molt and take a break during which time their reproductive system rejuvenates.
    I usually start increasing light in December. I have hens as old as 7 laying regularly.
    Birds close to the equator will have an even amount of light year round. That doesn't make them live a shorter life.
    Chickens hatch with many more ovum than they could ever lay in a lifetime. Winter laying doesn't deplete that. It is general health that discontinues laying and eventual demise.
    I do believe nutrition is key to longevity.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chillin' With My Peeps

    I usually read the ingredients on the packaging and chose the 1 that sound like it has the best quality. My girls aren't laying yet, so I haven't checked it out, but Costco is carrying an organic (realizing not all thing are equal) layer feed for $20ish (their stuff goes fast, it won't be old, at least not on their shelf). That being said I think even arsenic is organic, so not ALL organic things are good for you. And there is a lot of labeling deception. And I agree that organic doesn't change the actual nutritional value.

    I was afraid to mess up fermenting also, but took the plunge and it is going well. I think you can tell if it's spoiled. I am doing small batches now while my flock grows. I think their poos are better because they are actually digesting the food instead of it going straight through.

    That being said, WOW! I have never had any of those issues you have dealt with. That would have been discouraging! I'm glad you didn't let it get you down.

    I actually use a game bird feed instead of chicken feed. That is what my LFS (local feed store) has available (i'm actually 2 hours from Costco). The difference is higher protein. The starter has 28%, grower has 21%, layer has 18%.
     

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