First time chicken owner, having a blast but wondering if I’m over feeding non feed.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by DrKraus, Aug 14, 2019 at 4:03 PM.

  1. DrKraus

    DrKraus Hatching

    So back in March we got two chicks. One was a light Brahma and the other was a Cochin. Brought them home without discussing it with my significant other and she fell in love immediately. So I took our son back to the store the next day and got another light Brahma and a buff laced polish. Of course that wasn’t enough for me so I went to another store and got two buckeyes.

    Fast forward four weeks and while trying to train my German Shepard/Lab mix not to eat them she got one of the the Buckeyes we had named sassy. So I went to the store and got two more chickens, this time calico princess hybrids.

    During spring this year the gnats were really bad and exploited the poor design of the buff laced polishes head and she ended up dying of exhaustion from gnats literally feeding off her head.

    If you can’t tell by now I have no idea what I’m doing. After the dog killed one of the buckeyes she was “punished” by being kenneled in the garage were I was keeping the chickens for three nights. Dogs I know. They’re pack animals and wish to be with the family they
    Bonded with, separating her broke her heart and while I felt terrible about it it was extremely effective in curbing her desire to eat the chickens. Since the we’ve had no issues with the dog even when she is left out for awhile on her own with them.

    On to the purpose of this thread. The Buckeye has already reached maturity and has also already killed at least one mouse and has been lying an egg every 24.5 hours for the past six days now. Really like the Buckeye she free ranges really well and catches mice, what’s not to like other than the reported low egg production and medium sized eggs?

    Ok so now that that has been established... I have six chickens free ranging .5 acres of land. Two Light Brahma, two Hybrids, a Partridge Cochin and the Buckeye.

    What I have out for them is rock grit, oyster shell grit, Purina medicated starter feed (will buy non medicated after this bag), whatever of course and a three grain blend of corn, oats and barely which I put in a mason jar feeder.

    The problem is they’re eating much more or the 3 grain feed I added in than they are the starter feed.

    We also give them tablet scraps and moist cat food along with dry cat food, tuna and bread etc as no scrap food.

    I’m concerned because they really favor the 3 seed feed over the starter feed. One part of me is saying they’ll eat what they need, after all that’s how the grit works. They seem to eat it as needed and no more. But the feed is “balanced”, should I be concerned about them over eating whole grains and cat food?

    I don’t just want to give them processed feed. Even after give them cat food and sweet corn they still go out and eat the grass and weed on the property but they don’t eat any of them as much as they eat then 3 grain feed.

    Should I just keep offering them all sorts of things and let them decide what they want or should I control their diet strictly?
    DuckWhisperer06 likes this.
  2. DrKraus

    DrKraus Hatching

    Sorry about the word errors, posting on a phone and don’t have time to go back and edit it. Hopefully you can get an idea of what I meant.
    DuckWhisperer06 likes this.
  3. sealer39

    sealer39 Songster

    Aug 3, 2013
    Pineville, Louisiana
    My opinion, and it’s only my opinion, is they are already getting plenty of treats by free ranging. I give my birds Flock Raiser crumbles, fermented and dry. Chicken feed has everything they need and you only dilute the amount of nutrients they get by offering lots of treats. My birds are in a chicken tractor so they also free range. They do get treats but it is seldom, probably less than 1% of their diet.
  4. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    Yeah that is a lot of treats.

    I would cut back drastically. The 3 grain should not be available except as a small handful a day. They need the balanced ration of their feed to stay healthy.

    I am not saying no treats but just less treats.
  5. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    I have a feeder with Poultry feed 18/20 Protein available 24/7.
    I give my Chickens Scratch Grains once daily. 2 Tablespoons per chicken, a 1/4 cup per 2 chickens, scattered on the ground in their pen. 20190813_193609_resized.jpg .
    I also let them free range an hour before sunset daily, weather permitting.
    That's it for daily treats.
    I buy frozen veggies, and boneless chicken and turkey for myself, so no kitchen scraps here.
    Plenty of greens and bugs when foraging. 20190702_193413_resized.jpg , over half of the year.
    If it's really hot I will make a mash with refrigerated water and the Poultry feed. They loved it. GC
  6. Sequel

    Sequel Crowing

    I only use a scratch mix for training purposes, to try and get them to come when I call them. It works pretty well, I take them out and let them forage a little outside the run and I need to be able to get their attention so they'll come back in. It's like candy for them and of course we want them to be happy so it's easy to overtreat. I love my chickens too but I've had them long enough now to not give in to my urge to spoil them, lol
    ChickNanny13 and DuckWhisperer06 like this.
  7. DrKraus

    DrKraus Hatching

    I’ve been feeding them all kinds of things, even grass seed.

    I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I give them things and they eat some and leave it. I just assumed you knew what they were doing like with the grit.

    They seem to only want so much of one thing before strutting off to eat grass or another type of food.

    Seems counterintuitive to just feed them mostly feed. Isn’t that what factory farms do? The eggs we’ve gotten from the Buckeye so far have been “game changing” as in saying the eggs are going to have to be an acquired taste due to just how dramatically different the texture and mouth feel her eggs have vs store bought eggs. I have to admit myself it was a bit unsettling having one of her eggs for the first time because it felt so “full” compared to store bought eggs.

    They seem to dig something for a bit then get tired of it. Like for example when they were younger they ate a lot more protein like scrambled eggs and moist cat food but as they’ve gotten older they only eat a bit off it before I send the dog out to clean up what it left.

    They free range all day from about 7am until they decide to go back in the coop on their own - typically around 8:15 on nice days but earlier on gloomy days.

    I gave them one mason jar of the three grain feed last night and they have finished about 70% of it as of now.

    Is one mason jar of tri grain a day too much for six chickens? In addition to table scraps, etc?

    Yes I first got the Buckeye to kill and eat but I couldn’t kill any of these chickens unless I had to. They’re literally pets with benefits to me. They come when I click call them and follow me around. By far the best domesticated pet I’ve ever owned, absolutely love them!
    DuckWhisperer06 likes this.
  8. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    Yes a full mason jar is to much. For 6 birds of large breeds 1/8th cup is pushing the top end of what all treats combined should be.

    Factory farms do feed a formulated feed. I doubt it is as high in quality as what we small flock keepers feed.

    Just a heads up.....certain treats can transfer to the eggs making them smell of taste bad.
    Strong fish given in excess can give eggs a fishy taste for example.
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Crossing the Road

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Yes, you are overfeeding goodies at the expense of their balanced diet. Their chick starter, next bag unmedicated, is fine, although an all flock feed will be good as they are growing up. I also feed Flock Raiser, 20% protein, with separate oyster shell, free ranging as they can, and very limited treats.
    A pullet who's still growing up and producing six eggs per week needs a balanced diet!!!
    Egg production is very hard work metabolically, and deserves nutrients in balance, not whatever tastes good today.
    $$$ has been spent learning what makes up a balanced ration for these birds, so take advantage of all that.
    Check the mill date on each bag of feed, and make sure you can use it up within about eight weeks of milling. Old feed isn't good, and it's out there at feed stores. You need to find what's fresh where you shop; it varies, so my best feed may not be best for your birds.
    There's nothing at all wrong with your feed choices, but bring things into a better balance for their long term health.
  10. DrKraus

    DrKraus Hatching

    Thanks for the info.

    Are there any goto YouTube channels that people here recommend for learning more?

    Milling my own food for them is highly appealing to me.

    I’ll drop down the tri feed to 1/8th a cup in the feeder per day after they get their morning feed eaten.

    I have another off topic question if I could... only our Buckeye is lying and she seems to be laying at a higher rate than 1 every 24 hours. I got an egg from her that was warm two days ago at 9:30am, a cold egg yesterday at 10am and today I came out and she was just coming out of her laying spot at 8:30am. How long does an egg stay warm for after it comes out? Ambient is around 68 in the morning.

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