Changing chicken feed: a horror story

BuckeyeFoodie

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 29, 2013
368
1,146
256
Columbus, OH
First and foremost before I share my story, I am absolutely not complaining about the quality of, or trying to demonize Front View Feeds. My story was a very unfortunate set of circumstances I am sharing so hopefully no one else goes through what I did. The company is completely blameless, I genuinely like their products, and will continue to highly recommend them to people.



Back in February (ah, life pre-pandemic, how fondly I remember it...) I decided that if I was going to be serious about breeding and exhibiting my birds that I needed to be feeding them the best quality feed that I could. After doing some research, and in consultation with the feed dealer (a friend), I decided to switch my Silkies and Ayam Cemani to FVF Master Mix.

For those of you unfamiliar with Master Mix, it is a 18% feed that is a combination of whole/cracked grains, and a 30% nutrient pellet. It looks gorgeous, smells gorgeous, and sounded like it would be great for my needs. I was warned that because it's not a homogenized mix that the birds would likely pick out the grains first, and leave the pellet behind, so be sure to make sure they were eating it all before topping my feeders back up.

After a bit of time, about two months, I started to lose some of my birds to a mystery illness. They would be increasing lethargic, with bad color and weight loss. When I had a respiratory infection hit my flock, my pampered breeding birds were hit hard versus my free-ranging egg flock that had minor symptoms. According to endless desperate google searches as I lost a bird or two every few weeks, I was convinced that despite having been NPIP certified not too long before, we must now have parasites of some kind. There is no vet that will work with chickens near me, but my equine vet also googled, and confirmed that my line of thinking was probably correct.

So I treated for mites. And worms. And coccidiosis, and what felt like a hundred other things. I could navigate the Pigeon Supplies Plus website blind. I become adept at tube feeding birds that are too lethargic to eat, only to lose all but one. I power-washed the coops and treated them with high-strength permethrin twice a month on top of cleaning them weekly. Months go by, but I was still slowly losing birds, including so many of the grow-outs I had hand-raised in my laundry room, but had no where else to put but in the coop once they got bigger.

The end of September rolls around, and I haven't lost any birds in a few weeks, so I think we may have finally gotten this pest issue under control. As I'm inspecting my remaining birds to see who I might want to enter into the virtual show, I notice that even my strongest birds are still feeling thin, so when I go to order feed for that month I ask what I can switch my feed to to help them put weight back on. I switch them to a homogenized 22% feed, and slowly all but one start to recover.

That is when I realize the horrible truth: my birds had done exactly what I was warned about and had essentially done this to themselves, and I was their unwitting enabler. The pushy birds would eat first, picking out the lower nutrient grains from the feed mix, leaving nothing but the 30% nutrient pellet behind for the others. By doing this half my birds were not getting enough nutrition, and the other half were getting way too much protein, thus leaving me with birds that would drop sick with a myriad of symptoms, never to get better.

My surviving birds are still slowly but surely recovering. However my breeding flock has taken a major hit, including the loss of the mother and all but one of my first home-bred greys I was so excited about. After the experience I had over this year (could 2020 possibly have been MORE of a dumpster fire?!?!?) I don't think I will ever feed a non-homogenized feed again. And while I will continue to offer scratch grains like I always have, it will be in far smaller amounts than previously out of fear of a similar situation.

Again I say, I'm not sharing my story to flame the feed company - I actually kept feeding their other feeds until I ran out this week, and only decided to switch back to my previous brand because I can get it at the feed store 5 minutes away, instead of driving 45 for the nearest FVF dealer. I am sharing this story to warn people that this situation CAN happen, and when it does it looks a whole lot like a parasitic infection.

Edited because: spelling
 
Last edited:
Feb 28, 2020
1,676
8,563
456
Australia, QLD
First and foremost before I share my story, I am absolutely not complaining about the quality of, or trying to demonize Front View Feeds. My story was a very unfortunate set of circumstances I am sharing so hopefully no one else goes through what I did. The company is completely blameless, I genuinely like their products, and will continue to highly recommend them to people.



Back in February (ah, life pre-pandemic, how fondly I remember it...) I decided that if I was going to be serious about breeding and exhibiting my birds that I needed to be feeding them the best quality feed that I could. After doing some research, and in consultation with the feed dealer (a friend), I decided to switch my Silkies and Ayam Cemani to FVF Master Mix.

For those of you unfamiliar with Master Mix, it is a 18% feed that is a combination of whole/cracked grains, and a 30% nutrient pellet. It looks gorgeous, smells gorgeous, and sounded like it would be great for my needs. I was warned that because it's not a homogenized mix that the birds would likely pick out the grains first, and leave the pellet behind, so be sure to make sure they were eating it all before topping my feeders back up.

After a bit of time, about two months, I started to lose some of my birds to a mystery illness. They would be increasing lethargic, with bad color and weight loss. When I had a respiratory infection hit my flock, my pampered breeding birds were hit hard versus my free-ranging egg flock that had minor symptoms. According to endless desperate google searches as I lost a bird or two every few weeks, I was convinced that despite having been NPIP certified not too long before, we must now have parasites of some kind. There is no vet that will work with chickens near me, but my equine vet also googled, and confirmed that my line of thinking was probably correct.

So I treated for mites. And worms. And coccidiosis, and what felt like a hundred other things. I could navigate the Pigeon Supplies Plus website blind. I become adept at tube feeding birds that are too lethargic to eat, only to lose all but one. I power-washed the coops and treated them with high-strength permethrin twice a month on top of cleaning them weekly. Months go by, but I was still slowly losing birds, including so many of the grow-outs I had hand-raised in my laundry room, but had no where else to put but in the coop once they got bigger.

The end of September rolls around, and I haven't lost any birds in a few weeks, so I think we may have finally gotten this pest issue under control. As I'm inspecting my remaining birds to see who I might want to enter into the virtual show, I notice that even my strongest birds are still feeling thin, so when I go to order feed for that month I ask what I can switch my feed to to help them put weight back on. I switch them to a homogenized 22% feed, and slowly all but one start to recover.

That is when I realize the horrible truth: my birds had done exactly what I was warned about and had essentially done this to themselves, and I was their unwitting enabler. The pushy birds would eat first, picking out the lower nutrient grains from the feed mix, leaving nothing but the 30% nutrient pellet behind for the others. By doing this half my birds were not getting enough nutrition, and the other half were getting way too much protein, thus leaving me with birds that would drop sick with a myriad of symptoms, never to get better.

My surviving birds are still slowly but surely recovering. However my breeding flock has taken a major hit, including the loss of the mother and all but one of my first home-bred greys I was so excited about. After the experience I had over this year (could 2020 possibly have been MORE of a dumpster fire?!?!?) I don't think I will ever feed a non-homogenized feed again. And while I will continue to offer scratch grains like I always have, it will be in far smaller amounts than previously out of fear of a similar situation.

Again I say, I'm not sharing my story to flame the feed company - I actually kept feeding their other feeds until I ran out this week, and only decided to switch back to my previous brand because I can get it at the feed store 5 minutes away, instead of driving 45 for the nearest FVF dealer. I am sharing this story to warn people that this situation CAN happen, and when it does it looks a whole lot like a parasitic infection.

Edited because: spelling
So sorry this happened - really unfortunate and really annoying. Hope you and your birds are on the mend. :hugs
 

TheMother

Songster
May 17, 2020
197
310
151
Washington
First and foremost before I share my story, I am absolutely not complaining about the quality of, or trying to demonize Front View Feeds. My story was a very unfortunate set of circumstances I am sharing so hopefully no one else goes through what I did. The company is completely blameless, I genuinely like their products, and will continue to highly recommend them to people.



Back in February (ah, life pre-pandemic, how fondly I remember it...) I decided that if I was going to be serious about breeding and exhibiting my birds that I needed to be feeding them the best quality feed that I could. After doing some research, and in consultation with the feed dealer (a friend), I decided to switch my Silkies and Ayam Cemani to FVF Master Mix.

For those of you unfamiliar with Master Mix, it is a 18% feed that is a combination of whole/cracked grains, and a 30% nutrient pellet. It looks gorgeous, smells gorgeous, and sounded like it would be great for my needs. I was warned that because it's not a homogenized mix that the birds would likely pick out the grains first, and leave the pellet behind, so be sure to make sure they were eating it all before topping my feeders back up.

After a bit of time, about two months, I started to lose some of my birds to a mystery illness. They would be increasing lethargic, with bad color and weight loss. When I had a respiratory infection hit my flock, my pampered breeding birds were hit hard versus my free-ranging egg flock that had minor symptoms. According to endless desperate google searches as I lost a bird or two every few weeks, I was convinced that despite having been NPIP certified not too long before, we must now have parasites of some kind. There is no vet that will work with chickens near me, but my equine vet also googled, and confirmed that my line of thinking was probably correct.

So I treated for mites. And worms. And coccidiosis, and what felt like a hundred other things. I could navigate the Pigeon Supplies Plus website blind. I become adept at tube feeding birds that are too lethargic to eat, only to lose all but one. I power-washed the coops and treated them with high-strength permethrin twice a month on top of cleaning them weekly. Months go by, but I was still slowly losing birds, including so many of the grow-outs I had hand-raised in my laundry room, but had no where else to put but in the coop once they got bigger.

The end of September rolls around, and I haven't lost any birds in a few weeks, so I think we may have finally gotten this pest issue under control. As I'm inspecting my remaining birds to see who I might want to enter into the virtual show, I notice that even my strongest birds are still feeling thin, so when I go to order feed for that month I ask what I can switch my feed to to help them put weight back on. I switch them to a homogenized 22% feed, and slowly all but one start to recover.

That is when I realize the horrible truth: my birds had done exactly what I was warned about and had essentially done this to themselves, and I was their unwitting enabler. The pushy birds would eat first, picking out the lower nutrient grains from the feed mix, leaving nothing but the 30% nutrient pellet behind for the others. By doing this half my birds were not getting enough nutrition, and the other half were getting way too much protein, thus leaving me with birds that would drop sick with a myriad of symptoms, never to get better.

My surviving birds are still slowly but surely recovering. However my breeding flock has taken a major hit, including the loss of the mother and all but one of my first home-bred greys I was so excited about. After the experience I had over this year (could 2020 possibly have been MORE of a dumpster fire?!?!?) I don't think I will ever feed a non-homogenized feed again. And while I will continue to offer scratch grains like I always have, it will be in far smaller amounts than previously out of fear of a similar situation.

Again I say, I'm not sharing my story to flame the feed company - I actually kept feeding their other feeds until I ran out this week, and only decided to switch back to my previous brand because I can get it at the feed store 5 minutes away, instead of driving 45 for the nearest FVF dealer. I am sharing this story to warn people that this situation CAN happen, and when it does it looks a whole lot like a parasitic infection.

Edited because: spelling

What a nightmare!
I can imagine the gut wrenching you went through. I know what it's like to throw Corid, Permethrin, Poultry powder, Essential oil spray, ACV, Garlic etc etc at them, hoping to eradicate the problem. My brother finally told me "Dude feed and water the birds and leave them the heck alone". Meanwhile I'm over here pampering with the "better" feeds and worrying about every sneeze and tail that is down.
Happy to hear about the clutch and hopefully things will relax a bit.
 

Sleigh

Songster
May 13, 2019
41
91
109
Washington
I really appreciate your post. For the last week or so I have considered switching my girls to a similar feed. As you said, I was warned before even buying a bag. The concern about them potentially not eating the pellet was weighing on me. Your post is the confirmation that I needed.
 

Chicken_loverXx

Songster
Mar 11, 2020
346
1,093
206
Northern Ireland
First and foremost before I share my story, I am absolutely not complaining about the quality of, or trying to demonize Front View Feeds. My story was a very unfortunate set of circumstances I am sharing so hopefully no one else goes through what I did. The company is completely blameless, I genuinely like their products, and will continue to highly recommend them to people.



Back in February (ah, life pre-pandemic, how fondly I remember it...) I decided that if I was going to be serious about breeding and exhibiting my birds that I needed to be feeding them the best quality feed that I could. After doing some research, and in consultation with the feed dealer (a friend), I decided to switch my Silkies and Ayam Cemani to FVF Master Mix.

For those of you unfamiliar with Master Mix, it is a 18% feed that is a combination of whole/cracked grains, and a 30% nutrient pellet. It looks gorgeous, smells gorgeous, and sounded like it would be great for my needs. I was warned that because it's not a homogenized mix that the birds would likely pick out the grains first, and leave the pellet behind, so be sure to make sure they were eating it all before topping my feeders back up.

After a bit of time, about two months, I started to lose some of my birds to a mystery illness. They would be increasing lethargic, with bad color and weight loss. When I had a respiratory infection hit my flock, my pampered breeding birds were hit hard versus my free-ranging egg flock that had minor symptoms. According to endless desperate google searches as I lost a bird or two every few weeks, I was convinced that despite having been NPIP certified not too long before, we must now have parasites of some kind. There is no vet that will work with chickens near me, but my equine vet also googled, and confirmed that my line of thinking was probably correct.

So I treated for mites. And worms. And coccidiosis, and what felt like a hundred other things. I could navigate the Pigeon Supplies Plus website blind. I become adept at tube feeding birds that are too lethargic to eat, only to lose all but one. I power-washed the coops and treated them with high-strength permethrin twice a month on top of cleaning them weekly. Months go by, but I was still slowly losing birds, including so many of the grow-outs I had hand-raised in my laundry room, but had no where else to put but in the coop once they got bigger.

The end of September rolls around, and I haven't lost any birds in a few weeks, so I think we may have finally gotten this pest issue under control. As I'm inspecting my remaining birds to see who I might want to enter into the virtual show, I notice that even my strongest birds are still feeling thin, so when I go to order feed for that month I ask what I can switch my feed to to help them put weight back on. I switch them to a homogenized 22% feed, and slowly all but one start to recover.

That is when I realize the horrible truth: my birds had done exactly what I was warned about and had essentially done this to themselves, and I was their unwitting enabler. The pushy birds would eat first, picking out the lower nutrient grains from the feed mix, leaving nothing but the 30% nutrient pellet behind for the others. By doing this half my birds were not getting enough nutrition, and the other half were getting way too much protein, thus leaving me with birds that would drop sick with a myriad of symptoms, never to get better.

My surviving birds are still slowly but surely recovering. However my breeding flock has taken a major hit, including the loss of the mother and all but one of my first home-bred greys I was so excited about. After the experience I had over this year (could 2020 possibly have been MORE of a dumpster fire?!?!?) I don't think I will ever feed a non-homogenized feed again. And while I will continue to offer scratch grains like I always have, it will be in far smaller amounts than previously out of fear of a similar situation.

Again I say, I'm not sharing my story to flame the feed company - I actually kept feeding their other feeds until I ran out this week, and only decided to switch back to my previous brand because I can get it at the feed store 5 minutes away, instead of driving 45 for the nearest FVF dealer. I am sharing this story to warn people that this situation CAN happen, and when it does it looks a whole lot like a parasitic infection.

Edited because: spelling
Really sorry this happened to you :hugs
 

leia_and_friends

Chirping
Jan 25, 2020
51
81
71
Australia
Thank you for this useful warning. I have a special powdery feed that's the best in my hatchery's store - I do notice that my girls pick out the corn bits first, and don't seem to be too excited about the rest. Should I worry about this? Egg production has gone down lately... I just did a post about that problem actually. :confused:
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,649
21,547
877
Western Ohio
Sorry you’ve had so much trouble!

I’ve seen this kind of feed. I’m west of Columbus, and feed Kalmbach feed. They have “Henhouse Reserve” (HR) which sounds similar to what you purchased: whole grains and nutrient pellets. We’ve never used it as the only feed, we treat it as a treat. So, the flock gets their usual feed and later in the day (some of the days) we give them the HR in a pan. The gobble up the grains, leaving the pellets for last. They will eat them,, but not first choice.
 

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