feeding alfalfa cubes?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by iPeanut1990, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. iPeanut1990

    iPeanut1990 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Trying to do my research for my first winter with chickens! I think feeding them some alfalfa for greenery in their diet is a great idea. But how much should the chickens get? I'm gonna soak it so it's easier for them to break apart too if that matters. I'm too scared to feed them actual alfalfa hay because of the impacted crop risk. I've been reading on here that some people just throw a flake of alfalfa in the run about once a week and that does seem easier than messing with cubes... How do you feed alfalfa and how much?
     
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    My birds have access to the hay my horses eat; grass with some alfalfa. It's never been a problem for them. A bale of grass hay will last a while, and I've never bothered with alfalfa cubes. Mary
     
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think soaking it is a good idea. If I were you, I'd feed it separately from their other feed. I made the mistake of mixing in about 10-15% alfalfa pellets into their fermented feed and they didn't like it. Then I read that it can be hard for them to digest and IIRC to limit to no more than 5% of their diet. If you feed it separately, then they can choose how much they want to eat.

    We don't "feed" them alfalfa flake hay, but we do use some for the nest boxes and coop floor. I'm sure they eat some of it. No impacted crops here.

    I have a theory about impacted crops...I wonder how many impacted crop cases are from chickens locked up without outdoor access vs. those given some free range opportunity. The story I tell myself is that chickens locked up and fed only chicken feed "with all the essential nutrients" aren't really getting all the nutrition they need from the feed. And then given a flake of hay they voraciously gobble down the closest thing to green nutrition that they've gotten enough of in a while and overconsume. They can then get those other nutrients by free ranging or at least having a large enough run that is rotated occasionally so that they are effectively getting fresh nutrition every day. I mean, would you choose canned spinach over some freshly picked steamed spinach?

    I fully admit this is another of my wild hare-brained theories and could be complete bunk! But sometimes my theories hold up as truer than not...
     
  4. iPeanut1990

    iPeanut1990 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine cannot free range due to our dogs and other predators that can get into our backyard but they do have an outdoor run with a roof over it that they are in every day. Basically it's a dog kennel. I also got them a Peck n Play that I use sometimes. So I guess they're "friendly ranged". Planning on using the Peck n Play to move them around the yard more this fall once it finally cools down around here. It's just too hot and there's not enough shade right now. Poor chickies are running out of grass in their run though and would love more access to greens. We give them lettuce and kale and a variety of other treats too on occasion though. They're definitely spoiled. :)
    So now I guess my plan is to offer them the soaked mushy cubes in a small bowl and discard whatever they don't eat at the end of the day when they get locked up for the night. Does that sound like a good idea? I never had any intention of mixing it with their feed. I just don't want to feed them too much and then they don't eat their normal feed.
     
  5. iPeanut1990

    iPeanut1990 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh and what about pellets? Anyone use alfalfa pellets? Do you just throw a handful or 2 down like scratch?
     
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pellets - our chickens wouldn't eat them. I think too compressed and then there is I believe a real danger of crop impaction when the pellets expand in their crop.

    Another idea is to grow fodder, basically sprout seeds until greens start to grow. Think wheatgrass. I haven't done it since we can free range them so well, but there are huge threads on the subject here on BYC if you want to read up on it.
     
  7. iPeanut1990

    iPeanut1990 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you think that would still be a risk if the pellets were soaked like the cubes?

    I like the idea of growing greens for them! Didn't think of that!
     
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Dehydrated alfalfa meal is a base ingredient in most laying pellets. Unless your chickens are much different from mine, your birds won't warm up to alfalfa pellets, rabbit food. I still force feed it in the late Summer through Fall by soaking their scratch, layer, alfalfa pellets, mineral & vitamin supplements, and cod liver oil in boiling hot water to cover the feed for a couple to four hours before feeding it. This way the chickens can't pick and chose what they eat, they just have to wade in if they want to eat.
     
  9. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No. Because they will expand when soaked. Once soaked, they won't expand anymore, just be sure to use plenty of water and stir to be sure it's fully soaked.

    When I have more time and the right space for it, it would be fun to try growing greens for them in winter.
     
  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    My birds have hay in their nest boxes, and of course they pull it out and play in it. During the winter they get flakes of hay in the run, and some scraps, and I add some gamebird feed to their layer pellets. If it's nice out the range, but not in the snow. Mary
     

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