Can I be sure my chickens aren't "starving" if they don't eat all their pellets off the ground?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by hannahransom, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. hannahransom

    hannahransom Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 15, 2012
    Lakeside, CA
    Sorry I ask so many questions, I am new to chickens, even though I'm already obsessed.

    Anyway, I have a few bowls of pellets I give to my chickens, along with bugs (and then five of them spend a good amount of time free ranging, the other 4 are still too afraid to come out of the coop for some reason). I feed them in the morning around 7 and then I feed them right before I go to work (around 2:30pm). I give them about 3 cups of pellets each time (9 chickens a little over 3 mo. old). They also always have fresh greens in their coop (not that that gives them many calories). Anyway, chickens being chickens they scratch half of the pellets out of their bowls and usually by the next time I feed them they have a bowl with a few pellets and lots of dirt. There are pellets ALL over the coop floor. They are always very enthusiastic when I feed them, though, so I wonder if they just don't get that they can eat the pellets off the ground and are hungry? I was thinking that maybe I should just feed them on the ground and/or try to figure out a different feeding situation so that it doesn't get all over the ground? Thanks!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I feel your pain.
    Feed in an open container will be scratched all over almost immediately in an effort to find some tasty morsel.
    They usually don't clean up their mess.
    I would make or buy something that limits what they can waste and provide feed for the entire day.
    That's the only way you will know you aren't starving them.
  3. CluckyJay

    CluckyJay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    Crossville, Tennessee
    Just check their weight. Pick them up and feel their fat reserves. If they are nice and filled out and are laying/molting well, they are probably fine.

    You'd be amazed at how little you have to feed a free-ranging chicken on good land. Often, you don't have to feed them at all.

    The way I prevented them messing their food up was to add water to the bowl and make it into a nice peckable dough. Right now I am not feeding them much because everyone is mostly freeranging. They get oats occasionally and I free-feed oystershell.
  4. Rte.66_chicks

    Rte.66_chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2008
    Kingman, AZ
    A feeder that you can hang at about chest high to the chickens works well-they can't get their feet in it, and you only need to refill it when they empty it That really cuts down on the waste, and there is food available all the time.
  5. CluckyJay

    CluckyJay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    Crossville, Tennessee
    Try tossing some good green weeds into the pen for the ones that are scared. They'd probably appreciate it. [​IMG]
  6. lolita117

    lolita117 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2011
    Hestand, KY
    I would use hanging feeders. That what I have in my coop. Before I hung them up, they would scratch the feed out and waste it. Now, though some does fall to the ground, it is a very small amount and most of that gets eat too. You can find a hanging feeder that fits your size flock. I think mine are 10 pound feeders and I have 2. They hang about chest high for my chickens, which are standard size.
    When I fill them it takes around 2-3 days before I need to refill them. They are eating a little more right now because of the cold and lack of grass and bugs.
    I recently changed the strings out for chains before the mice could figure out they could climb down them. Also, having so much waste food on the ground is an invitation for creatures to come get it.

  7. hannahransom

    hannahransom Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 15, 2012
    Lakeside, CA
    I do toss greens in for the others, for sure!

    Mine aren't full grown yet, so I can't go by laying. The thing is, they should be full grown by 18 weeks, right? Mine are 14 weeks today and I feel like they still have lots of growth left! My plymoth rock is about as big as a full grown white leghorn, but the rest are smaller. They don't have their combs or wattles yet, either. I figure they are just excited when I bring them food because it's new, and we all know chickens love new, but I rarely see any pecking off the ground so I wonder if they just don't associate that with food.
  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Quote: I'd stop feeding them until they clean up what's on the floor so it won't spoil and be wasted
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    At the high price of feed, wasting feed is a huge no no here. Clean up what's available first, before anything new is going to be provided.
  10. Black Cochin Bantams

    Black Cochin Bantams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2010
    That was good advice about using a hanging feeder. Extra feed on the floor will eventually bring unwanted pests (mice and or rats). To me that is even worse than the waste.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by