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Foraging And Feed Effeciency Comparing Breeds

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Arielle, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Would anyone be interested in a comparison of foraging abilities among the difference breeds of chickens? And feed efficiency, too.

    I think the feed efficiency of each breed would be very interesting, especially as feed and grain prices have risen sharply. I'd like to avoid going into the grain prices per se, and focus on understanding which breeds utilize their feed better.

    Both faraging ability and feed effeciency are factors in reducing overall feed costs, and there are several other factors, which I'm sure someone will chime in on and share.

    This is sure to be a very boisterous thread with plenty of opinions from all who want to share! Love to hear from everyone!

  2. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    I'd love to say I can, but my hens are all mixed together, so saying my findings are accurate would be unfair. . . I know some breeds have a lot more in their crops in the later day than others, and some when I get rid of them drastically reduce feed intake in general compared to others, but, I don't pen mine or anything so there is nothing solid to say over here except for with my Shamos and Tolbunt Polish.
  3. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I think that you don't pen them could be rather revealing about their foraging abilities. Where do your girls like to go? Do some stay closer to the coop? Some more adventurous and go further abroad?
  4. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Songster

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    I'm going to copy what I wrote earlier, in case people might have comments.

    I was thinking, what exactly determines foraging ability? If not eating as much feed is an indication, than my Dorkings eat the least feed, followed by Buckeyes and the Delawares eat the most. There is some fluctuation in this but I would say the Dorking requires the least amount of supplemental feed.

    My other observation is that the Dorkings don't range as far as the Buckeyes and the Delawares range even farther than the Buckeyes.

  5. gootziecat

    gootziecat Songster

    Nov 27, 2007
    Hampshire Co, WV
    It seems to me the whole idea of a foraging bird is to either be self sufficient, within reasonable perimenters, or supplement a good deal of their food needs. Some animals are "easy keepers" and it may be chickens fall into this catagory as well, although I've never read anything referring to this. This thread should be interesting to many here, and I hope it keeps going.
  6. tgrlily

    tgrlily Songster

    Mar 11, 2009
    East Syracuse
    Quote:My Dorkings also eat the least feed, but they also produce fewer eggs. They range the farthest of my breeds. The Orpingtons lay the most eggs, eat the most feed & stay closest to their coop. The silkies are kept in their pens except when we can watch them because they're easy picking for hawks.
  7. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Songster

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    Another thing to bear in mind, is how much forage is available? How large of an area do the chickens have to range?

    There are so many variables, it would be difficult to get an accurate comparison.

    When my flock is not in breeding pens, they have 11-15 acres of grass pasture to roam (some clover etc.). This year, they discovered our olive grove - 400 feet away from the moveable coop at times. Judging from the pits covering the coop floor, they love scavenging olives! At one point, the Delawares crossed over our property fence and were digging around in our neighbor's newly planted grain field. The other chickens followed, a day or so, later. I got an angry call from the neighbor and had to put 1500 feet of netting over the fence, to keep the chickens on our land. That was probably 600 feet away that the Delawares ranged. Prior to that, the Dorkings would stay within an area of maybe 100 feet of the coop, the Buckeyes would range maybe twice that far. Of course, if some of the chickens go farther, the rest are going to follow, eventually.

    I don't have much time today, to be here, but will be back. [​IMG]


  8. tandersphoenix

    tandersphoenix Songster

    Feb 25, 2011
    This does vary greatly depending on quality of forage for the hens however, I have been raising "pastured eggs" on a somewhat larger quantity for about 4 years now. I have found and research backs this up also that foraging does NOT replace a well rounded diet. It adds to their health and also many vitamins to the egg. Especially vitamin D. I know some who do not believe this and try to make their birds produce by finding everything they need on their own. The only thing I can say is well fed hen is a productive hen. My birds eat .28lbs each a day and they always seem hungry at that but most of the management guides will tell you this is what they require if you are feeding a commercial layer feed. I use an "all natural" blend with 16% protein.
    Here is one of my pastured houses, I have 400 hens in each..

  9. ChestnutRidge

    ChestnutRidge Songster

    Feb 26, 2011
    Western Virginia
    I'm sure that not only how much forage but what kind of forage would make a great difference as well. Access to fallen olives, such as in the example above, or meaty bugs under fallen timber in a forest would differ nutritionally from grass or higher-protein forage like clover. Along the same lines, available foods will vary by season and smaller cycles, such as when a local moth is in a larval stage, etc.

    I've read that chickens can gain some nutritional benefit from using the deep litter method in the coop. Something about B vitamins formed by bacteria, maybe? I've also read that yolk color can be affected by the nutritional density or variety of forage. Perhaps the best foragers have the best yolks? (Assuming they have not been intentionally fed marigolds or something.)
  10. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    I'll report on 4 breeds (strains)

    Black Sex Link (commercial RIRxBR) Good layer, but at 6 lbs, bred to be an average eater. This is a plus, if cold hardiness is the goal, but feed to egg ratio quite average, nothing special. Excellent forager which helps only part of the year in northern Michigan.
    Myers Golden Buff (production red) Superb layer, but slightly above average appetite and feed consumption.
    Spotted Sussex outstanding forager, fairly light eater when able to forage. Heavy body. Mediocre egg laying.
    I.S.A. Brown the feed conversion winner by a long, long way. Laying machine, very light body, and requires less feed than any breed/strain I've ever kept. Pretty aggressive forager, which is surprising, perhaps. None better at feed conversion to eggs laid.

    Hope that helps.
    1 person likes this.

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