Feeding wheat to free range chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ausmumof3, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. ausmumof3

    ausmumof3 Chirping

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    Hi.

    I am purchasing some wheat for chicken feed. I’m currently feeding a complete layer mix but to be honest the grain in it isn’t looking that great I think due to drought. My chooks are currently free range and it’s spring here so there’s a lot of green feed and insects. They do get some vege scraps but not heaps. I can give cuttlefish if that’s helpful.
    I was wondering about alternating one bag of wheat then one bag of layer mix. Would that work or do I need to supplement in some other way?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    It sounds like you are south of the equator and your chickens are getting a lot of their food from free ranging, not just from what you are feeding them, at least this time of the year. That's different from many people on this forum.

    The Layer feed has everything they need if it is all they eat. They need a balanced diet of many different nutrients to be at their best. Typically, if you feed them everything they eat, the recommendation is that you keep the Layer 90% of their diet and restrict the rest of what you give them to only about 10% of what they eat.

    That's probably not where you are. Since they get so much of their food from foraging you've lost the ability to micromanage every bite. They now have control of their diet. Chickens have been raised that way for thousands of years and they are not extinct. It works quite well as long as you have a sufficient quality of forage. That means grass and weeds, grass and weed seeds, various creepy-crawlies and flying things, and maybe table scraps or garden excess or wastes. Is there enough variety for them to get all the different nutrients they need? If they are healthy and laying good quality eggs, then yes. If not they need supplements.

    The Layer has everything they need but they may not be eating enough of it to get all that from the Layer. Still, it supplements their regular diet with at least trace amounts. Wheat can be a part of that diet, it's a seed after all, but it does not have all the trace elements Layer has. I would not stop feeding the Layer or alternating with wheat.

    I'm not sure why you want to give them wheat. Layer should be mainly what you offer them because of those trace elements. If you want to use wheat to train them to come when called or to just give them a variety, I'd keep it to a mall handful, not make it a significant part of their diet.

    If you want to offer them cuttlefish you can. Many of us supplement with mealworms, maggots, meat, or other such. Again I would not overdo it but a small amount would probably be better than none.
     
  3. ausmumof3

    ausmumof3 Chirping

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    Cost mainly
    Due to drought the chook feed costs are going pretty crazy but I managed to get some feed wheat cheapish. ($35 for a bag that does us 2 weeks if we’re lucky)

    It also looks way cleaner and better than what’s mixed in the layer mix. The quality of the layer feeds seems to have dropped again I think due to drought. I’m actually going to take a break from hatching anything till conditions improve.
     
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  4. Perris

    Perris Crowing

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    I would try it and see - if they take it, it's probably fine. The more variety you can give them or they can find, the more likely they are to be able to satisfy all their nutrient requirements. Mine free range with a wheat/maize feed at start and end of day, and do well on it.
     
  5. Kiwibird

    Kiwibird Crowing

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    I have alternated layer pellets and wheat before. You can't always buy both here. It seems to work just fine.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    When free-range foraging provides the majority of what my birds eat, then typically it is energy that becomes first limiting. That means I can see the quickest and most sustained restriction in area foraged when an energy dense grain is offered as a supplement. The same result can be realized with a complete feed. If an incomplete but otherwise protein-rich supplement like a mixture of corn gluten and soybean meal is used, then the ranging behavior does not tighten up.
     
    Perris likes this.
  7. Perris

    Perris Crowing

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    indeed; the quantity given does seem to impact how far they wander. I think I have the proportions about right now to keep my birds from ranging off my property (most of the time).
     
    centrarchid likes this.

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