Free effect on egg yields

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Drunken Burger, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. Drunken Burger

    Drunken Burger New Egg

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    Nov 16, 2016
    I have been trying to ween our chickens off of store bought feed and strictly free-range. We have an acreage with plenty of forage, but I've noticed a significant drop in egg production when denied feed. I had planned on never buying feed, but raising chicks indoors feed was necessary and an expectation that has been reinforced I'm afraid. Do we just need to tough it out and let them adjust? Anyone with experience in this?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I have to say that I really have no experience starving chickens.
    Who gave you the idea that chickens didn't need food to be productive and healthy?

    You'll never get good production out of modern birds regardless of breed without supplementing forage with a complete feed nutritionally no matter how good the forage is.

    There are a few breeds that can come close but unless the forage is pristine and the right type, with the right weather, even they will disappoint. What breeds do you have? Where are you located and what have you planted for them to eat?

    Poultry nutrition has been studied for 100 plus years and probably more than human nutrition. It is well known what provides optimal nutrition for production and those elements are in commercially produced chicken feed.

    Free ranging birds have a limited distance they will range away from housing no matter how much terrain is available. They will first deplete the available protein sources, then the succulent vegetation, then all the seed/carbohydrate sources.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
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  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Unless their is a lot of diverse forage available, year round, you're going to need feed. Chickens need a lot more nutrition than can be found in grass and a few worms. For a healthy, productive flock, they need access to a complete, nutritionally balanced feed. Too little protein, and they end up eating eggs and each other's feathers. Not enough essential vitamins or minerals, and you can end up with bone and joint deformities, or neurological problems.
     
  4. farmgirllvo

    farmgirllvo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agreed with above. My chickens free randge all summer but I still feed them each day. About 1/3 the amount I do in the winter, but they still need the food and grains to keep them laying.
     
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    If you only want to raise and Butcher in the fall....Free range is fine with a little feed once a day....If your wanting Egg production?
    That is a whole other ball game....Layers require proper nutrition to remain healthy and produce great eggs....


    Cheers!
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I also have no experience trying to starve my flock! Mary
     
  8. MtnHarmony

    MtnHarmony New Egg

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    Apr 25, 2016
    It is my understanding their egg rate will drop if their food drops. Mine love to run around and eat everything in the yard, plus scraps. I would not consider just the yard enough nutrition though. Sure they may survive but they will be less productive and would probably die sooner too. I did stop letting mine eat all night/day long, due to rodent problems, and it forced them to free range a bit more until they got use to the feed schedule. I don't know why but they are eating less now, even when I leave food in the feeder all day. I know my Buff's were really keen on sitting and eating from the feeder all day but I don't see that happening now. I have even stopped feeding them as many cooked eggs/scraps too so who knows what the deal is. I kind of think they got use to eating non stop and I broke the habit and they are foraging more. I am getting less eggs now too, which I don't mind at all as it is colder and darker now. And I do feed them and they often have food left behind for hours and hours so they aren't starved.

    You may want to look into homemade feed blends just to see what they need or what you could plant in your yard to help them but just straight grass may be asking for trouble. Would love to know for sure though ;)
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    As the days shorten, production slows. With that natural drop in production, their calorie needs also decrease.
     
  10. MtnHarmony

    MtnHarmony New Egg

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    Apr 25, 2016
    That does make sense! I just assumed they may eat more as they need to keep warm. My meaties (that did lay eggs after a year old) ate all the time so they were always on rations so I never noticed with them. So I am still learning with layers (not meaties turned into layers, lol).
     

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