Best feed for my hens to encourage laying

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Jules6hens, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. Jules6hens

    Jules6hens Out Of The Brooder

    Had my 6 rescue chickens for just 2 weeks now. I researched types of feed before getting them and set up an area to make my own feed for them. Now reading other posts not sure if I've done the right thing as not sure how to know if I'm keeping the minimum 18% protein that has been suggested for egg laying feed. My recipe is - 50lb layer feed, large canister oats, 2cups cracked corn, 4cups shelled sunflower seeds, 1cup Brewers yeast and garlic powder, 1cup DE, 1cup sea kelp and some mixed herbs. Was supposed to include 1/4 bag omega ultra egg but can't get that in Australia, so still looking for the ground flaxseed to replace it. Does anyone know the feed side of things and can help me? Is this good mix of protein or should I just go back to prepackaged hen mix for my girls? (I like making up there feed too, instead of tipping straight out of a bag). Ps. I put probiotic powder into their drinking water too, just a gram per litre...
    Appreciate any ideas on this please. Why? The first two days they laid 5 eggs between them which is average of an egg every second day for each hen, which I'm happy with...but over last 12 days only getting average 1 or 2 eggs a day at most. It could be just settling in, but wanted advice now in case I'm doing something wrong.
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    The bulk of my laying hens diet is commercial layer feed. They get a few handfuls of scratch each day, meal worms now and then, and they forage my pasture as well. But the layer feed is the main part of their diet. It is formulated and intended to be a complete feed for layers. If you mix in a lot of other stuff the birds are more likely to pick and choose their favorite things out of the mix, such as the corn, and they may then not be getting the nutrition and calcium they need for optimal laying.
     
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  3. PirocaKeeper

    PirocaKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds to me like you are giving them a great mix. By using the layer feed, you have the 18% and the other stuff you are adding, adds more goodies to their diet. Your girls must be very happy to get all that variety. I read you rescue the chickens. How old are they? do you know? There are a few things that can make chickens stop laying. Age, molting time, being re-located, stress when adding them to a bigger flock, not a proper nutrition (I don't think this is your problem). What breed they are also kind of dictates how often or how many eggs you should expect a week. If you post more information about them, it will give us a better picture of your chickens and if you have pictures of them, even better, so that we can enjoy them too.
     
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  4. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your hens world has been turned upside down. Moving is stressful, you've changed their diet, you've changed the dynamics of the flock. All things that impact laying. The first eggs you got were a result of them already being in the works. Now you just need to sit back, let them settle in and laying should resume in about another week. What you are adding isn't really changing anything. It amounts to about 4% extra added to the feed. I wouldn't mix it with the layer. As others point out, they are going to start picking through the feeder looking for the morsel they want and wasting the layer feed in the process. Just put the layer in the regular feeder and toss the treats in another pan You might need to mix it with some water to make a mash so all the bits are eaten and don't get left in the pan. Are the hens bebeaked or trimmed?
     
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  5. Jules6hens

    Jules6hens Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you all so much for your feedback. Much appreciated. The hens are 18mths old, but for hens bred for the cage they are only expected to live another 2 yrs...they are Rhode Island Reds, and beaks were trimmed as they normally do with caged hens here...typically good layers. and they re really at home now. So just wanted to make sure I do the best I can with feed to maximise egg qty. so I will separate the layer pellets now, from the other stuff (corn, sunflower seeds, DE, etc) and make that a scratch and throw out a handful each day as treat. Is it ok to throw the scratch not the ground or put into a bowl? I'll work out how to post photos now. Thanks again. Jules.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  6. Jules6hens

    Jules6hens Out Of The Brooder

    Oh my, I cannot see how to load photos here into the thread? It doesn't appear straight forward as with other social media pages. Will try later from my computer, it may be just html restrictions on ipad. Looking forward to sharing some photos of them. Cheers. Jules.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  7. Urban Flock

    Urban Flock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Separating the feed from the treats would be a good move. Have a friend that did exactly what you tried. She had 5 hens empty a 20lb feeder in a few days throwing out the good feed for the corn. What a mess she had. Giving them treats is fun but you want their main diet to be the layer feed. It is a balanced feed that covers the nutritional needs of your girls. Good luck with your new chickens.
     
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  8. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The problem with just throwing it on the ground is you have fine powders in the mix. Those will just end up on the ground. Depending upon the severity of the beak trimming, some hens will have trouble picking up their feed and eating. Pellets might work for some while others can only pick up crumbles. Keep an eye on their weight by picking them up and feeling their underside and breast area. They can't produce well if they can't eat properly.
     
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  9. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Can I ask why you are adding DE to their feed ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    A lot of your problem could be that their world has been turned upside down like Percheron said. Another problem could be that after laying practically every day for a year the hens naturally slow down laying. That’s probably why those hens are available, they have slowed down laying so much the business has to either replace them or force them to go through a molt to get back to a profitable rate of lay. It is quite possible you will not see a lot of egg production until they go through a molt, then they will probably lay really well. Not as well as they did during their peak, but still a lot better than they are doing now.

    When their beaks are trimmed they can have difficulty picking up certain foods. Some can manage pretty well but it is still difficult. The way the commercial operation probably fed them was to feed a wet mash. Their feed is ground to a powder, then wet with water to make a paste. That way the different ingredients don’t settle separate out by density so they get a more balanced diet. They have automatic machinery to do that for them. For you it will be more work. You have to mix it up so it is not separated before you make the paste and you don’t want to mix up so much it goes sour before they eat all of it. You might want to read up on fermented feed. You sound like a good candidate for that.

    I commend you for taking those hens but they may take more work from you to give them a good home. Good luck!
     
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