Confused about protein and food ratios

Chickety Charcoal

11 Years
Jul 11, 2011
Westchester County, NY
I often read here that mixing scratch or treats with regular chicken feed will dilute the nutrients chickens receive. I am confused as to how this happens.
I give my chickens a cup or so of layer pellets (for 4 hens) first thing in the morning. I let them out after they finish or are close to finished, and they eat what they find in the yard or what I give them as 'treats' (yogurt, scratch, BOSS and seed from wild bird feeders, etc). If they already consume the layer pellets before the other foods, aren't they getting the nutrition present in those pellets (16% protein and all the rest)?

Is it that the treats mix with the pellets in their digestive system and some of the pellet nutrients get bypassed?
The idea is that if the chickens fill up on the less nutritious treats, they will eat less of the layer pellets. Hence the rule of thumb that treats should be less than 10% of their total diet. But that supposes that all treats are not nutritious.

Some people will mistakenly feed their chickens a lot of treats (like scratch) thinking that they are doing a great thing, because the chickens seem to love it so much.

It sounds like you are offering your chickens a good well rounded diet. Layer, forage and treats. I would not worry, unless you notice your chickens are skinny or losing weight. Even then my first thought wouldn't be a poor diet.

On the other side of the scale, how would I know if I am feeding them too much of anything? What are signs, if any, of an overweight chicken? People have said of my chickens 'Oh they're big!', but these are people not very familiar with chicken-keeping so it is likely more a reaction to an image they had in their head before they had seen them. It made me think though, what size/weight range do I shoot for?
There is no one answer to the nutrition of everything on this planet. If you think that they are eating too much of one item. Come on here and ask, or google the item. I find googling "item toxic" usually gets me to a wealth of information. Then I can sort through it. For the most part, if it sounds like a healthy diet for you it's likely to be OK for the chickens.
As far as behavior- you will get used to how your chickens behave. When you see something out of the ordinary, then it is time to start looking for answers. Chickens do not all act the same so you will find they have individual personalities.
Size and weight are dependent on breed, genetics, feed, age. Check out Seramas and Jersey Giants(very different). Looks like you have BOs and OEs, they don't look much alike.
Younger chickens tend to look smaller and skinnier, older birds appear heavier and lower, in a lot of breeds. It has been posted that if the keel (breast bone) feels "sharp" then your chicken may be underweight.


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