Does everybody use feeders? Can you train them?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by totallycity, May 7, 2008.

  1. totallycity

    totallycity In the Brooder

    May 7, 2008
    Ok, remember that I am city girl. Don't laugh!

    We have 13 chicks about 6 weeks old.
    They are outside in a chariot (large screened in & plenty of grass, sun etc... [​IMG] hen house attached also) We let them "free range" for short periods all over the yard while we are working in garden, etc... (hunter cat on the loose & they are still small to defend themselves)

    Boy, do they know the drill?!? after just a few short times.
    We open the door, they go rushing, flying & having fun, then mill around catching bugs, scratching etc... then when we are ready to go in (or they just go back to the chariot & wait for us) we call them & they all come running. We let them into the house and then feed them several handfuls of starter.
    we try to do this at least 3x a day.
    We also give scraps from kitchen daily.
    Hope to let them free when older all day, yard is not fenced, don't know how well this will work.

    Then other times of the day we just go out & throw handful of feed on the ground.
    ok, our "theory" is that if we use a feeder all the time they will become lazy & just eat.
    (We have friends who have birds in chariot, they never get "free time" in the yard all they do all day long is sit & eat! I never see them "looking" for food - thus hunting bugs) & they are FAT!

    I don't want to "under" feed them, so how do I know:
    1. What is the right amount each bird should have? Or how much feed should I expect to put out daily for 13 birds?
    2. They don't seem to be eating bugs as much in chariot, almost "waiting" to go out for that. (?) why?
    3. We move the chariot daily, but only as far as it's length, so they have fresh grass when they are inside, clean from yesterdays poo etc...
    However, they don't seem to go back in for water. Should I set up more waters around the yard?
    4. Is it reasonable to think that it's more "natural" for them to scratch for food and not put it in gleaming silver cans? (when we use a feeder - like when we have to be away) they seem to eat until they could pop! [​IMG]

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Fill the feeder and keep it full 24/7. If they get to range, being lazy and eating pellets will be the last thing they want to do if they are layers.

    Any figures you find are generally "desinged" for battery cage layers which are about 3lbs as adults, or "feed efficent broilers" who live out their whole 8 weeks in the food.
  3. S0rcy

    S0rcy Songster

    Mine have access to feed 24/7 but make no mistake, they would rather have what's out in the yard. The second I make an appearance at the house sliding door, they are cheeping LOUDLY. "Let us OUT of here" They will not touch their food if I am there because they just want OUT.

    Soon soon pretty girls, I have to get the fencing in the run done... sheesh LOL
  4. Portia

    Portia Songster

    Feb 29, 2008
    South Central PA
    Mine also free range but have access to feed 24/7. Occasionally they will pick at the available feed, but mostly they prefer to forage in the yard. They do like scratch and treats, and come up looking for them when I walk into the yard; but they don't depend on it. It rained almost all day today and it was cold, but you wouldn't have know it from the chickens; they were loving all the bugs the rain was bringing to the yard surface. They were all fat and very happy by the time they put themselves to roost for the evening.

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