Does Feed Consumption Drop Off After a Couple Months?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 3KillerBs, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Songster

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    Three things have happened at once and raised a question about the results.

    First, my 12, 8-week-old chickens now have 24/7 access to their hardened run instead of being shut in the coop from dusk until an hour or two after first light. This means 24/7 access to the feed and water since its in the run rather than the coop.

    Second, after week of eating mixed medicated and non-medicated feed they're exclusively on the non-medicated grower instead of the medicated starter/grower. The new feed is a different brand with vegetable rather than animal protein and a finer texture.

    Third, I've been giving them 3-4 large ragweeds and/or an equal-sized mass of other weeds twice a day and a pie-plate or so of unsalable vegetables/fruit per day (I work at a produce stand). They've eaten everything but overmature cucumbers and tired okra with great enthusiasm. The ragweed is the #1 favorite with wormy sweet-corn as the only competition -- if I put both in at once half will eat wormy corn, the other half will eat ragweed. The cucumbers and okra are withering into the pine-straw bedding and, presumably, drawing pillbugs, palmetto bugs, and other lovers of dying vegetation.

    In the past several days I've noticed a dramatic reduction in the volume of feed consumed. The birds are just as active as they have been and are growing almost as fast as the ragweed. But where they were consuming almost all of 2 scoops of the medicated starter-grower or the mixed feed, three scoops of the straight grower lasted 2 days.

    Does feed consumption normally drop off a bit at that age? Is it likely that the finer texture of that feed is making that much difference? Am I overdoing the fruits, vegetables, and weeds? Is it possible that they're getting that many bugs drawn into the run by the remnants of the okra and cucumbers?

    I would presume that they'd be eating even more of their favorite ragweed if they were free-ranging since they strip what I give them down to bare stems in an hour or less.
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've not noticed a drop in feed consumption at any specific age, but it sounds to me like you're doing a good job of cutting your feed bill back with supplementing plants/veggies. There are some folks here who will go on and on about how they should only eat the "feed", and "treats" should be severely limited or their nutrition will be all out of whack. I'm the opposite, I don't think the "feed" is all that and supplement as much as I can with vegetable/fruit/plants. My hens lay great, glossy feathers, no parasites or diseases. I'd say you're doing something right! Plus, once they start laying, nothing gives a wonderful orange yolk like plant material!

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