Feed versus fruits and veggies

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by msboerke, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. msboerke

    msboerke Hatching

    Oct 17, 2011
    Hi, I am a new chicken owner and I was wondering if my chickens really need chicken feed or if I can just feed them some of the suggested items on the list of foods that are great to give to chickens. I am worried that the feed will attract rats and mice. I laready have a compost bin and do not have any issues with rodents but I am wondering if the feed will start a problem. Any advice?

  2. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    Welcome! [​IMG]

    No, they need the protein that they get from the feed. If you remove the feed every night then you won't have a problem with rodents!!
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  3. debid

    debid Crowing

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    Just like any other animal, they need a balanced diet to thrive. It's possible to feed a balanced diet without chicken feed but it requires an extensive knowledge of poultry nutrition or some quality help (like a recipe from a reliable source). Still, any type of feed out and available will attract rodents (among other things).

    There are options for rodent control. You could get a barn cat. You could feed on a schedule (where you measure out the amount they are expected to eat at each feeding rather than leaving food out). And, of course, you store your feed in a rodent-proof container.

    ETA: I'm using a combination of cat and elevated coop. The elevated coop keeps them from being able to make a home right under the coop. The feed goes very slowly at my house so I'm thinking it's working out.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  4. Davian

    Davian Chirping

    Sep 8, 2010
    Vermont, USA
    I had moles try to steal feed from a feeder once...and the chickens "caught" the moles and proceeded to eat them.

    It was a self-correcting problem.
  5. kevinhannan

    kevinhannan Chirping

    Aug 3, 2011

  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you joined us! [​IMG]

    Like any other animal or a person, they need a balanced diet: protein, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and whatever else. They can live and even grow if they are missing certain things in the quantities and ratios the need, but they really won't thrive. You can get health or developmental problems. The commercial feed contains what they need to grow and develop if that is all they eat. That really needs to be the main part of what they eat. There is nothing wrong with giving them treats on the side, but those treats need to be limited to about what they can clean up in 10 to 20 minutes so you don't upset that balanced diet. And if you give treats, they really need grit.

    If you have feed, you will have rodents. There are different strategies to deal with this, but you will have them around. I strongly suggest storing the feed in a closed metal container. Mice and rats can and will chew through plastic containers. I know that from experience.

    Some people pick up the feed at the end of the day to reduce this exposure. I've seen plenty of mice during the day. Also, the chickens will spill feed onto the litter. This alone will attract rodents. I do not consider picking it up at night to be a perfect solution, but it can help. I find if I feed pellets instead of mash or crumbles, the chickens clean up more of it, but some still gets spilled and left behind.

    Chickens do eat mice. They love them. But my chickens do not spend all day in the coop and they cannot see at night. Frankly, mice are usually too quick for mine to catch many of them anyway. They'll get a few, but they don't really control the problem. And that is only mice. Rats are too big.

    Some people feed in the run instead of in the coop to keep the rodent problem out of the coop. But you might find that you feed a lot of wild birds doing this. Wild birds can eat a lot of expensive feed.

    As others mentioned, hungry barn cats can really help. if you are in a situation where that is an option.

    Good luck, and again [​IMG]
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    They need more protein, calcium and various other micro-nutrients than that diet would give them.

    I keep the feeder in the coop and lock the door at night. I haven't had a problem with mice or rats in the coop. The feed is in a container, also.

    I have an elevated pop hole door that's fairly high and a ramp. The end of the ramp is in the middle of the run, in open space. I think that discourages rodents, because it exposes them. They much prefer running along a building for cover. Then they end up popping in through a ground level doorway when they get to it.

    If there's not food laying all over the run, it doesn't attract as much attention, especially at night.
  8. ECBW

    ECBW Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    Rodents like fruits too. What ever you give to your chickens, there will be animals looking to share. I keep my feeder in the coop. There has been no problem with theft. My chickens attacked a groundhog that entered the coop, best chicken TV ever.

    Also, feed will help ensuring balanced diet.
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Your compost may not attract rodents because the rodents know it is not advantageous to eat food that does not carry much nutrition. [​IMG]

    So if the stuff you want to feed does not attract animals looking for a good meal, you might not want to be feeding those things for any more than a treat.

    A balanced fortified diet will allow your birds to thrive. Furthermore, fruits and veggies alone won't be nearly enough to keep an omnivorous seed/grain eating animal healthy. A ruminant with a four chambered stomach can stay alive and thrive on good grass, but not a bird who relies on energy dense food to be ground up in the gizzard.

    You don't have to have a rodent problem giving food to your chickens. Keep the food secure and inside the coop. Don't let any spill on the ground outside and if rodents can't get it, they won't come.

  10. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    Central Michigan
    Do your chickens free range? If they do they will be getting protein from bugs and worms. If they're free ranging in an area with a variety of plant life they'll also be getting a variety of seeds and greens.

    My chickens free range, get all the kitchen compost we produce (huge variety of fruits and veg) and I have commercial feed available free will. Just from casual observation I think their diet is about 1/4 commercial food and 3/4 compost/free range. I'm basing this on where they spend their time during the day--returning occasionally to the coop to eat, drink, or lay but spending most of their day free ranging and in the compost pile.

    I think if you have a lot of chickens in a small area or your chickens cannot free range at all then they definitely need the commercial feed as their primary diet. But, I have a few hens on a large area with plenty of free range options (protein and grains).

    As for rodents--I haven't had any problems and I feed compost right in the coop plus leave out their commercial food all the time. It happens, though, that my coop is situated on an old gravel pile. The ground is like cement--my husband had to use a pick axe to dig the footings. So, if you cannot raise your coop to keep rodents out then I'd suggest wide gravel footings and pressure-treated lumber at the base so rodents cannot dig under or through. (The lumber is covered on the inside so the chickens do not have access to the chemicals in it.) The outside of the coop is left-over siding so it's too slick for anything to climb. Inside the coop I have a separate feed storage area and I keep the feed inside a super strong plastic container with a latching lid.

    Good luck. I really wouldn't worry about fruit/veg attracting rodents any more than commercial chicken feed. As a girl on the farm we had a far greater problems with mice/rats in the grain than in the garden.

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