Foraging Behaviors

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by rainplace, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    I have 19 Delawares and 12 EE's about the same age, between 8 and 10 weeks. The Delawares are foraging monsters. They eat a bit of feed but mostly they are scratching and scratching and eating whatever it is they find in the grass. The EE's on the other hand don't hardly scratch at all and hang out by the feeder even when it's empty. The Delawares are friendly and laid back whereas the EE's are flighty and mean to everyone.

    So my question is... is this normal behavior for both breeds?

    What DP chickens are known for their foraging abilities? What egg laying chickens are known for their foraging abilities? Or is this not something noted in chickens?

    New to chickens, can you tell?
  2. BWKatz

    BWKatz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    My EE has slipped out to forage on her own since 4 wks old. She forages daily and eats pellets. Try throwing some BOSS out in the grass & it will encourage her. Mine is friendly and lets me hold and pet her so I don't think it's the breed. Many others on this forum have friendly EE's. Try hand feeding treats to make her friiendlier.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Hmmm, I've noticed just the opposite. My two EEs, 6 1/2 months old, are good foragers. Not as good as my brahmas, but still good.

    Hendersons Chicken Chart has a little info. on foraging abilities; not much, but some:

    Also, my EEs weren't very friendly at all until they started laying. Now they're sweethearts.
  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Hi there, rainplace!

    One of my EEs is very sweet and easy to handle, yet not a terrific forager. The other EE is more flighty, but she's a very good forager - she's my only chicken that likes to eat slugs! Anyway, my Black Australorp takes the cake for foraging, though. She's heads-down all the time out there, and a very powerful digger. The non-flighty EE is lowest on the pecking order and I think that makes a difference with foraging, because she's always watching her back and has to skidaddle out of the way when someone wants her "spot". Anyway, I've encouraged her to forage by tossing seeds on the grass - like someone else suggested. And she loves mealworms (don't they all?) so I sometimes toss those out on the grass for her. After she's scarfed those up, her foraging engine seems to get revved up a little more.

    I like both my EEs a lot. Yes, they got "nicer" once they started laying. The flighty foraging EE is a high jumper and I've got her trained to jump high for a treat, straight out of my hand. That's always guaranteed to make visitors laugh a lot. None of the other birds can even get as high as she can. The more timid and easy to handle EE will fly up from the ground onto my arm or shoulder (for a peanut, of course) on command. They are both slightly smaller & lighter weight and I think that means they are just more agile in the air than the other heavier breeds I have.

    What's a DP chicken?
  5. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    mine forage great! and he is friendly too for a roo. My only EE girl is still pretty young and has just started free range but she seems to scratch around just like the others. None of my chickens are overly friendly the lg breed are farm animals. The bantys are pets
  6. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    Thanks for the feedback. DP stands for dual purpose.

    It could be that the EE's aren't use to the amount of area they have to forage. Ostensibly, there's 60 acres out there for them, but right now I have them penned on about an acre of that, still quite a lot considering the EE's went from someone's garage to their new digs. The Delawares have already figured out how to escape the pen and have started making use of an additional acre under some apple trees. Yesterday I did not put any food out during the day and the EE's still just sat around the coop circling where the food was suppose to be.

    I do throw down scratch, which the EE's will peck at, but they don't scratch at. There is one EE who ventures out with the Delawares. If she ends up being the only one who actively forages, I'll breed her. In the meantime, I'll keep taking notes.

    Anyone have more comments?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by