Feed questions

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by CountryTink13, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. CountryTink13

    CountryTink13 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Wilton, CA
    Hi everyone...
    We're getting ready to move our little flock from their current home to the coop we're building, it's not pretty but looks like it will keep them safe and warm with lots of room to move around.
    The nice folks that are giving us the chickens are including 2 hay bails (sp?) a bag of scratch and a bag of laying pellets? I know that she currently gives them bread for treats and after reading through the list of good and bad treats can't wait to start spoiling my new little kids :D
    My question is what is the "best" healthiest food for my flock? I read something about crumbles? What the heck is that? Should laying pellets only be fed during the laying season (spring - fall?)?
    Also, for the scratch...is that just like it sounds? Spread it around their run and let them scratch it up?
    Sorry for what is probably a bunch of dumb questions but I really do want my little flock to be good and healthy.
    Jen
     
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I don't feed scratch as it's quite low in protein and is simply like crack for chickens; they will fill up on it like kids do on candy, or crack-head... You get the idea.

    The hay is for coop bedding, but I prefer to use pine shavings. Hay is hollow and will more easily harbor mites as well as go moldy very easily.

    Laying pellets, for those who keep only layers, are year round feed. I use a higher protein commercial feed and keep a dog dish full of crushed oyster shell, because the laying hens will take what they need to build up their depleted calcium from laying eggs. I happen to have chickens, ducks geese and turkeys, so they all get Nutrena All Flock. I also give them treats like Black Oil Sunflower Seed (BOSS) which is higher in protein than "scratch" and the oils in 'em give 'em fats. I can hand feed them their treats, or throw the BOSS into the coop for the birds to scratch around in the litter to find it.

    I get much less feed waste with pelletized food than crumbles. But again, I don't buy layer pellets.

    Good luck with your chickens! How cool to be given some chickens and feed and whatnot! Those nice folks are enablers....chicken keeping enablers. ;-)
     
  3. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 18, 2012
    Salem Oregon
    A "layer" feed that contains calcium or a "grower" feed with calcium on the side should be feed to your egg layers all year round. Buy the feed with the highest protein you can afford. Our hens get about 60% of their food foraging. I feed fermented feed, because fermenting boost protein and the hens eat far less so it saves on costs. I also supplement with cooking scraps, left over cooked grains, and trimming from the garden plus assorted larvae grown in our compost and active culture yogurt a few times a week..

    Fermented feed info:
    http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/viewFile/60378/48610

    http://www.pjbs.org/ijps/fin640.pdf


    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373724


    I don't feed my hens bread because it lack usable nutrients. but I do feed homemade "scratch".

    Our hens free range on 1/2 acre and I scatter a few handfuls of scratch where I want the hens to forge but they mostly eat sprouting plants, insects and worms. In winter the hens are in the run for a few hours in the morning because no one is home to mind them and they tend to wander, so at night when I shut the coop I scatter some scratch into the bedding in the run to encourage scratching and turning over the 10"deep pile of dried leaves, hay and other fluff that I have covering the run floor because the earth there was packed hard. Wet hard ground often harbors parasites so we are having the chicken help improve it.

    I buy different grains or sometimes wild bird seed or cracked corn that I mix with about 1/4 hulled sunflower seeds to make scratch. And no, it's not as nutritional as feed but it does give them something to do when they are confined in the run for a few hours, and again, it's also (slowly) improving the condition of the run floor.

    Our hens are fat, shinny and healthy and that is the goal no matter how you decide to feed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  4. CountryTink13

    CountryTink13 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Wilton, CA
    Thanks for the reply, Linda. [​IMG]
    Good to know about the hay. I use pine shavings for my goats so easy enough to get for the chickens too.

    My chickens will just be layers/pets (couldn't bring myself to use them for meat). I read though that oyster shell is too soft and grit should be used instead? I'll have to see what they are actually giving to us and then do some research at the local feed stores to determine what they will end up getting. I do love reading all the advice here!

    It's sad that the neighbors have to move out...but so happy for us that they are giving us their flock. That's actually how I got my 3 goats too...happened upon somebody who just needed a safe home for them.
     
  5. Tanith BHH

    Tanith BHH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 9, 2012
    I feed my girls layer's pellets all year round, they have access to it at all times. In the morning when I let them out of their coop, I give them a scattering of mixed corn, but not enough to fill them so that they have something to do, and kitchen scraps later on. yes, the hay'll be for bedding, it also doesn't soak up moisture as well. Chopped straw or shavings are a much better option. They should have oyster shell grit as this is an important source of calcium.
     
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Grit and oyster chell are two different things. Everybody needs grit if they are eating ANYTHING other than commercial feed. Only laying hens (and not pullets NOT YET LAYING) need the extra calcium. Some folks just crush up their hens' eggshells and provide those back to their hens. Best if in a separate dish, free choice, not mixed with feed.

    When I say "layers" I am referring to hens who are actually laying eggs; most of my flock are "dual purpose" breeds, meaning they are heavier breeds which make pretty good eating if one happens to want to have chickens they can process at some time in their lives... Either when done laying or or earlier at full maturity, or even at an advanced age. Breeds listed as "layers" don't have that much bulk to them; they lay relatively well and make a good table bird.

    The only time any of my chickens grace a table is if the two diapered, house pullets jump up there.

    Except for the "extra" rooster or two, which I cannot keep because I already have enough good roosters for the flock, none of my chickens, ducks, turkeys or geese will ever get eaten. They will live here until the Goddess calls them home. If my neighbors hadn't started The Great Chicken War, I would keep every single one of my roosters... They hatched here, they are MINE. But nooo....... I keep four. I'm only supposed to keep two, but I lie.
     
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Grit and oyster chell are two different things. Everybody needs grit if they are eating ANYTHING other than commercial feed. Only laying hens (and not pullets NOT YET LAYING) need the extra calcium. Some folks just crush up their hens' eggshells and provide those back to their hens. Best if in a separate dish, free choice, not mixed with feed.

    When I say "layers" I am referring to hens who are actually laying eggs; most of my flock are "dual purpose" breeds, meaning they are heavier breeds which make pretty good eating if one happens to want to have chickens they can process at some time in their lives... Either when done laying or or earlier at full
    maturity, or even at an advanced age. Breeds listed as "layers" don't have that much bulk to them but they are great for egg production; dual purpose breeds they lay relatively well and make a good table bird.

    The only time any of my chickens grace a table is if the two diapered, house pullets jump up there.

    Except for the "extra" rooster or two, which I cannot keep because I already have enough good roosters for the flock, none of my chickens, ducks, turkeys or geese will ever get eaten. They will live here until the Goddess calls them home. If my neighbors hadn't started The Great Chicken War, I would keep every single one of my roosters... They hatched here, they are MINE. But nooo....... I keep four. I'm only supposed to keep two, but I lie.
     
  8. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Sorry about the double post - i did manage to fix spelling and content in the last post.
     
  9. CountryTink13

    CountryTink13 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Wilton, CA
    Thanks for the info & links, Aggiemae and Tanith. All good information is so much appreciated. I've always admired chickens and delighted in watching the ones that would show up here at random times. They've all disappeared now so it's doubly exciting to be getting some of my own now.

    I'm wondering how the established flock with their one rooster is going to be with the single rooster that will also be added. The people who have them now keep the single rooster in a separate pen, all alone. We've only been able to build one coop and I've got my fingers crossed that the two roosters will get along. There are about 8 hens (4 are only about 3 months old right now). Is there a chance the roosters won't fight? The coop we've built is bigger than the one they are in right now.

    Linda, you keep chickens in diapers in your house? That is so cute! My dogs and cats would never allow that though. I've always said that any animal I've ever fed, named or even looked at will never be dinner. So they will just have to live long happy lives free from an oven. [​IMG] I just realized too, that Somerset isn't all that far from me...but I think you're area gets quite a bit colder than we do.

    Jen
     
  10. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 18, 2012
    Salem Oregon
    With only eight hens rooster will probably fight and it's a very noisy business even when they aren't drawing blood.
     

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