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Can I just get a basic rundown of proper diet, for a total newbie?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SmittenChickens, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. SmittenChickens

    SmittenChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I've been researching diets for chickens and I'm so overwhelmed!

    Do they need pellets or crumbles AND corn? What about "scratch", and what IS scratch exactly?

    Do you feed them ad lib, as much as they want? Or will they overeat, so you have to give them set portions?

    Do they have to be weaned from one food to another gradually, can chickens get upset stomachs like other animals if switched food abruptly?

    Can you just give them human food leftovers whenever, is it good for them?

    What about calcium or giving them eggshells or something? Do I buy that in a store or how does that work?

    Help! LOL!
     
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Visit the learning center for good information on feeding chickens throughout their life.
     
  3. SmittenChickens

    SmittenChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm not seeing an answer to any of my questions in the Learning Center, am I missing something? [​IMG]
     
  4. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have week-olds to about 16 weeks you need to be feeding starter crumbles either medicated or non-medicated. Starter is known as a "complete feed" as in, they don't need anything but starter for 16 weeks and water of course.

    Scratch is another name for "cracked corn" and sometimes may have other grain mixed in. It should only be used as a treat as it has little to no nutritional value.

    Chicks and young chickens should be given as much as they want and food should be available at all times. As jthey get older you can start putting them on more of a schedule and only feeding a certain amount at a time, to conserve on wasting feed.

    If you are raising hens for eggs, at 16+ weeks you need to switch them over to layer feed, again, a complete feed. You may feed them non-layer but you MUST have an available source of calcium free choice at all times. Oyster shell is the best supplement. Most people I know just feed layer, but as I have 2 three month old ducks, I have everyone on Flock Raiser a tthe moment which is a complete feed that is approved for all poultry, and my laying hens have acccess to the oyster shell. This makes their egg-shells strong. You can find all these feeds and oyster shells at a feed store.

    Treats, mealworms and kitchen scraps are okay for chickens that are 4 weeks and older who also have access to grit. Chickens have crop-type digestive systems and MUST have access to small stones of course sand that they can ingest which will help them digest their food. Grit can also be obtained at feed stores. Popular treats include yogurt, mealworms, greens, fruits and veggies....chickens will eat almost ANYTHING but there are things that aren't very good for them and also poisonous. Do not feed raw beans, potatoes, or apple cores or peach pits. Do not feed anything that is high in starch or fat. Hope this helps. There is a complete list of chicken treats on here somewhere....I think in the learning center.
     
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  6. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup, I agree with all that.....I do feed layer pellets I forgot to say that, it does help them not waste so much. And, yes corn and scratch is good when i starts to get cold but as we said, not a complete feed.
    An addendum to when they get older and you know about how much they eat...if you continuously fill the feeders full all the time, the chickens will begin to realize this. Not kidding, so they will scratch A LOT of the food out of the feeder and pick out their favorite pieces, knowing that you will fill it up again. If you don't feed as much at a time and put them on more of a schedule they will clean the feed up WAY better and not scratch or waste as much on the ground.
    *Confined chickens are less prone to wasting than part or full-time free rangers.
     
  7. Yeah, my dad got crumbles once. Oh wow, I've never seen such a mess lol. [​IMG]

    And about them scratching out their favorite pieces. I totally agree, I tried doing a free choice system, and layer was all over the floor, and their was absolutely no corn, anywhere. [​IMG]

    Oh and BTW, mine are full time free rangers, so I don't worry about providing grit, since they pick it all up from our gravel driveway and the sand pit and such.
     
  8. SmittenChickens

    SmittenChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the input guys, great info! Making things much clearer. :)

    My hens won't be free range, but their run is going to be sand flooring. So I still need to provide something else for grit?
     
  9. That should be good on the grit. :). If your going to just have sand though you should probably provide a box of dirt too so they can properly dust bathe.

    ~~~Ms.B. :)
     
  10. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, my run is all sand too so my girls don't need extra even if they weren't part time free range. Sand is also a good floor because it acts as a giant cat litter box and there is way less messy slick poo everywhere because it gets covered and then disintegrates.
    Are you sure you don't want to consider part-time free ranging? I live in the city and it's totally manageable. It's better on your hens and feed bill. If you can't swing it, make sure that your girls have PLENTY of room in the run, it's completely fenced and protected and that they get plenty of green scraps and things to entertain them. Confined hens will easily get bored and can lead to a slew of other problems if there isn't enough room or things to do.
     

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