CONS of feeding Dry Cat Food?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by suzettex5, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. suzettex5

    suzettex5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    I have an older hen (about 5 or 6 years, RIR) who was balding and had a ratty tail and balding on her back. She wasnt being harrased by roos, just had very poor feather condition. She one day decided she wanted to live in our garage by herself. This was after living with all the chickens in the henhouse and being freeranged with them as well. I feed in several feeders, some have lay crumble, some have flock raiser. PLenty of fresh water everyday. Table scraps, and oystershell, and lots of BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) has been an veryday thing as well, but nothing seemed to fix her feather issue. I just figured it is her age since she is one of 3 hens we have in her age group (the other 2 have feather issues as well, they have been kind of a 'control' group).

    Since moving into our garage, she started eating our dry catfood that we leave out for our outdoor kitties (not the cheapest kind, but not super high quality either). She does make the occasional trip to the feeders, and gets treats just for her, and eats lots of bugs and grass in our back lawn.
    Now its been about 2 months and ALL her feathers have grown back, and they are soooo shiny and full and soft! This is NOT a molting thing, I've never had a chicken molt and get feathers back of this quality, and be so old.
    Her laying had gone off to about every 3rd day, and now is up to everyday- I thought a 5 year old hen would have slacked off laying this well by now?

    Now I'm wondering, Is cat food really bad for them internally? I have heard mixed reports, and I dont want to inadvertently hurt her if its really bad for her. Could the cat food be reponsible for her looking better and laying better? Or just coincidence?

    Opinions and personal experiences (good or bad) would be greatly appreciated!!!
    chickens really likes this.
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    It may go both ways -- the extra protein (it could be extra if she likes it that well) could have contributred to the good feathering but also something could be building up in her system that will eventually cause problems. I have read good documentation that cat food is not so good for them and quantities should be quite limited. I don't remember what it has too much of besides sodium, but I believe there are other things as well.

    On the other hand, if she is thriving, why fix what ain't broken?

    Up to you.
  3. HeritageHens

    HeritageHens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2010
    I'm no feed expert but it sounds like she and the others need more protein in their diet. Cat food is also high in fat so I'm guessing that can't hurt either. Have you considered supplementing the others too?

    The guy who built our chicken coop said, and I've never heard this before, that if you give chickens a handful of cat food a day during winter months, they will continue laying all winter. My girls aren't that age yet so I don't know if there is truth to that statement or not. I know that some breeds continue laying all winter but he indicated it would help all breeds.
  4. Cloverleaf Farm

    Cloverleaf Farm Bearded Birds are Best

    Sep 16, 2008
    Levan, UT
    I had heard the same thing about feeding a handful of cat food here and there to up protein intake, etc...and the breeder I got my call ducks from told me during breeding season to feed them half regular food and half cat food for the extra protein....his birds win at the shows ALL the time! Must be something to it...
  5. suzettex5

    suzettex5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    Quote:Thats what I was worried about- Build up of bad things from the cat food. She probably eats a handful everyday, I try not to give her too much just in case it is bad for her. None of the other chooks have caught on to this source of food yet, we keep the feeder on a shelf only cats can get to. One of my kids put some down one day and she figured it out real quick, she is always hanging out below the feeder now, [​IMG]

    I dont know what else to feed them to up the protein or fats- I feed BOSS everyday, meal worms once a week, freerange all day, everyday on over an acre, feed laycrumble and flockraiser free choice, give scraps of chicken dinners about twice a week, feed fresh veggies almost everyday (mostly cauliflower, cucumber, tomatoes). I always try feed a mix of plain yogurt, reg fat cottage cheese, crunched egg shells and cayenne pepper once a week in several long dishes, so everyone gets some.
    My lone hen gets some of those treats to herself, if I can get her by herself, sometimes the younger pullets figure out whats up and rob some of her treats! What else can I do? The other 2 hens who I got at the same time as her still have feather issues like she had, but they dont eat any catfood. None of my other chickens have these issues, but none of them are older than 1 year. (except one other hen we have had for almost 3 years, but she is doing GREAT).

    Anyone know the long term effects of eating cat food (small amounts) on chickens?
  6. Cloverleaf Farm

    Cloverleaf Farm Bearded Birds are Best

    Sep 16, 2008
    Levan, UT
    This is taken from another place on this website, at the bottom of the "chicken treat chart"....

    "* Regarding feeding CAT FOOD to chickens,

    the following is from DLHunicorn in response to the listing of cat food in this Treats Chart: (A word to the wise, and thank you, DLHunicorn)

    "You all know how I feel on cat food and I have posted the links and reasoning behind my objections several times can potentially be detrimental to your birds health and even deadly in the right circumstances and for this reason I feel it should be left off the chart (as when you put it on it is as if you are condoning its use) I will repost here one of the sources for my objection:
    ..."While it is nutritionally essential, methionine excesses are far more toxic to poultry than similar excesses of tryptophan, lysine, and threonine (National Research Council, 1994). Force feeding methionine to excess can result in death to chicks (National Research Council, 1994). A dosage of 2 g / mature cat / day (20 to 30 g / kg dry diet) for 20 days induces anorexia, ataxia, cyanosis, methemoglobinemia and Heinz body formation resulting in hemolytic anemia (Maede, 1985). ..."
  7. exoticduckluvr

    exoticduckluvr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2010
    catfish food for extra protein
  8. linben

    linben Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Is it possible it is not all related to the cat food? Maybe she is getting to eat more in general away from the flock.
  9. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:That is what I was thinking. Perhaps she is low on the pecking order and the others are preventing her from eating as much as she needs to stay healthy.

    One thing you could do for her and the other two hens is feed them separate and add lots of protein items. I have not tried it but have read that canned fish such as tuna, mackerel, etc. is good for protein issues.

    Good luck.[​IMG]
  10. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    My problem with feeding cat or dog food is that in the U.S. neither are considered food animals so there may be components in the feed that would not be used in feed for animals that are to be eaten.

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