Corn can't be enough, can it?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by NaturalChick, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. NaturalChick

    NaturalChick In the Brooder

    Jun 24, 2008
    Growing up my family just fed our free range chickens corn form the local feed store and some table scraps.

    I'm now going to have chickens again and don't know what to feed them, is corn enough for a free range chickens?

    And until they are at home here and I train my pups will leave them alone I will keep them in their run. What should I feed them while "cooped up" for a while?

  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Till they are laying age, you can feed Start & Grow crumbles or FlockRaiser type starter feed for all poultry. Corn isn't enough, especially for growing birds. They need much more protein than corn provides. After they begin laying, layer crumbles or pellets is what you'd feed them. You could continue starter feed as long as its unmedicated, but it's more expensive than layer.
  3. hooligan

    hooligan Songster

    Aug 20, 2007
    I remember when my grandparents raised Dominiques that all they fed was scratch and let them free range from 6am til almost sundown. I am sure they fed somethingelse in the winter but that is all I remember in the Spring/Summer/Fall.
    I feed my young birds Purina Start & Grow and my mature birds Purina Layena. If I feed them anything else they just don't look as good or produce eggs as well. I also suppliment with fresh veggies/fruit (whatever is on sale, usually) and a bit of scratch grains...I also cook for my birds but that is usually in the winter or for holidays [​IMG]
    You can check out Purina's poultry site here:
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Just wanted to add that my grandfather did the same thing, but I believe there was more for them to eat on the farm, from the woods, pastures and from the grains fed to the mules and cows. Depends on how much forage there is for them.
  5. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    That's what I was thinking... free-range usually means they're foraging for themselves, so the scratch or corn would just be a treat or supplement. I sure wish I could free-range my birds... eagle bait!! [​IMG]
  6. LinckHillPoultry

    LinckHillPoultry Songster

    Jan 17, 2008
    Doesn't corn also slow down laying for hens?
  7. gamebirdsonly

    gamebirdsonly Crowing

    Mar 5, 2007
    my birds free range and during the winter all they get is corn, except those that are in pens they get a mash.
  8. hooligan

    hooligan Songster

    Aug 20, 2007
    Quote:Yes, my grandparents had a lot of land and being out in the country, that also meant a lot of bugs/field mice/tarantualas/lizards etc!
  9. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Corn alone, indeed any grain alone, is incomplete.
    Ive done alot of research on this. Indeed, yesterdays "free-range" farm flock was a pretty dismal affair, by and large, just for the practices were discussing here.
    There were some flocks that were well cared for, but they were the exception. Did you know that less than a hundred years ago, we lagged behind the entire world in poultry products.
    Even the Aussies had us beat - by long mile!

    Forage on a range varies. In the spring it's good, but as summer comes on it changes - the bugs get faster and the plants tougher. Chickens themselves quickly deplete what is there, with little regard for over foraging.
    I've read that it takes an entire acre to provide for the needs of one chicken on a completely foraged diet.

    Sure they did it in the old days, mostly since they didnt know any better. And quite likely because they had other animals beside poultry on the farm. The chickens could feed on the leftovers and droppings of these other endeavors. It took a lot of effort in those days to raise the level of America's poultry efforts to anything approaching what we take for granted today.

    And we moderns, how we love the rustic notion of the free roaming flock taking care of itself, while it serves our needs. It takes us back to the "good old days." But what are/were the birds missing? What could have been done better?

    If you really don't care beyond just having a few chickens around - then throw them some scratch and scraps and be done with it, by all means.
    If you want to do better, however, I suggest you offer them a complete, all purpose ration. When the foraging is good, they will shun it. When things get slim out there on the range, they will head back to the feeders.
    In the end they will be better fed and healthier - and you will reap the reward for that.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  10. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    There are two different scenarios I'm picturing here:

    1) Hens who had free range of the farm and gleaned their food where available, then were supplemented with some corn for carbohydrates. This seems fine.

    2) Intentionally feeding birds only corn and table scraps, with limited space to forage. Corn is under 10% in protein and it could stunt them or cause long term health problems from malnutrition. This doesn't seem reasonable.

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