Feeding young chickens... how strict?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Lynnski, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. Lynnski

    Lynnski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Every one, I really enjoy the site and have learned so much!

    There has been one thing has bothered me that i cant seem to find an answer to. I understand the reason to limit food/treats to chicks that is not their grower feed. My 4 girls are just about 7 weeks old now and have been out in the coop for about 3 weeks now. They have the run of my very small yard all day when i am home, eating grass and bugs. Also, its been so hot here that i have been freezing watermelon for them. And they fight over a half a handful of mealworms at the end of the day when they go back in their run.

    Should i worry about them filling up on that rather than their feed? Its hard to tell how much they are eating of either. They have also found my green bean and squash leaves and i have to admit its fun to watch them hop up to take a bite!

    Ill find them in a hole under a tree and bring them a cup of grower feed and they have at it like they havent eaten all day. Should i put dishes of feed outside of their run for them?

    They are growing, and healthy and their poop looks normal..... am i over thinking this?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Just allow what they forage be their treats, at least for now. Do not move their food or water sources around. They know where they are and how to get to it, should they want it. I would, however, setup some duck and cover shelters throughout the yard, so that they aren't quite so exposed out on the lawn.
     
  3. jpalmatier83

    jpalmatier83 Out Of The Brooder

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    A couple thoughts from my (limited) experience...

    It's less about "what" they're eating and more about "what" they're eating, meaning... If they're getting the proper amounts of micro and macro nutrients (and you're sure of this) it doesn't matter if it comes from feed or forage or treats. The major issue is that often people will "over" treat in one particular area. Too much watermelon (sugar and carbs)? Too many meal worms or corn (excess fat)? Always treating with scrap meat (excess protein)? The idea behind the actual feed is that it has been formulated with the (theoretically) appropriate amounts of macros, as well as vitamins and minerals. That's why it is the preferential nutrition source. That said, chickens tend to go after things they (i.e. Oyster shell) and not those they don't.

    Oddly however, my girls, even with a full crop, will go to town on their feeder if I set one in front of it. Maybe it's a reflex reaction?
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    My feeders are kept full, in the coop or run, and all the birds eat what they need. They will get up at dawn and eat a lot from the feeders, then, later in the morning, they are let out to free range. They eat stuff outside, and will come back occasionally to the feeders. At near dusk, they are all filling up on chicken food again, right before roosting. Mary
     
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine operate just like the poster above me - I keep the feed and water in the coop around the clock, and they tend to eat feed mostly in the morning and shortly before bedtime. Mine seem to forage outside mostly in the late morning and afternoon, but they do pop into the coop on occasion to snack on feed.
     
  6. Lynnski

    Lynnski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This certainly makes me feel better about their nutrition! Thanks for all the replies.... There are times that i wonder how much is instinctual and how much is learned. I am still quite amazed that these creatures know to go inside their coop at dusk, and i am thrilled that they come running to me when i knock on the coop! I will certainly think up more shade stations for them and keep the feeders in the coop and run only.

    So, full disclosure, my husband came home one day after helping a friend rebuild his coop and wanted to get 2 hens. I wasnt sure i would take to chickens.... "they are dirty, smelly, loud". My first google search led me to BYC and although still hesitant, i was in. Well, by the time he finished the coop, we were brooding 5 adorable little marshmallow peeps! So thanks for (virtually) holding our hand through this adventure!
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    [​IMG] Mary
     

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