Free Range

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jhooker, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. jhooker

    jhooker New Egg

    Mar 6, 2014
    Question , All fall and winter the chickens rushed to their feed. Now that the grass's is coming up and spring is upon us, the chickens don't act as interested in the feed, Is this normal or do I have a problem ? They range on 10 acres and all appear to be healthy.
  2. Completely normal. Grass & green shoots have higher amounts of protein in them. Chickens love the new growth. Chickens would rather get their food from foraging anyway.

    Wish ya the best.
    1 person likes this.
  3. jhooker

    jhooker New Egg

    Mar 6, 2014
    I appreciate the quick response , I was a little worried , but i was assuming the same but wasn't sure, at least I can save a little on the feed bill.

  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    A lot of people on here can’t comprehend this, but for thousands of years chickens on small farms pretty much totally fed themselves when the weather was decent and the forage was good. By good forage I mean different grasses and weeds, grass and weed seeds, all kinds of creepy crawlies, some dead and rotting vegetation to scratch in, and probably cow, horse, or sheep poop to get some really good partially digested nutrition. I grew up on one of those farms.

    Chickens foraging for their food is totally natural if the quality of forage is good and you can handle the predator pressure. It’s also a good way to reduce your feed bill. The better the forage quality the more help on your feed bill. Sounds like you are doing it really well! :thumbsup
    1 person likes this.
  5. jhooker

    jhooker New Egg

    Mar 6, 2014
    Thanks Ridgerunner , Yep predator isn't to bad here, I battle snakes though in the chicken house any good suggestions on getting rid of them.
  6. chickencoop789

    chickencoop789 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2012
    New Jersey
    x2 on everything that Ridgerunner said. Snakes get into the coop through small holes so next time you clean your coop, look high and low for any nooks and crannies that they can get in through. If you find one, close it up.
    Hope this helped!
  7. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    I would imagine that now that the weather is warmer (spring), they won't need as much feed. Part of what they were eating over winter was just to keep them warm. So, they'll eat less feed for that reason alone ... at least that's how I understand things. Of course, I put out both a feeder of "complete feed" and a feeder of "mixed grain" most of the year (but particularly cold months) so that they can self regulate their energy (grain) intake and not have to eat more protein (in the feed at 18%) than they need. No sense pushing extra protein through them to make more ammonia in the coop overnights.

    Additionally, with longer days of spring, they have extra time to spend out foraging. During shorter days of winter, they need to get all their feed intake completed in the few hours of daylight (if you live in the north) that are available ... well, unless you are providing supplemental light to lengthen the daylight hours. So during winter, it seems like they are standing at the feeder longer because the days are so short. But during the spring, 1) they eat less because of not needing as much feed just to keep warm and 2) they have a longer day to get all their eating completed so the percentage of the day they spend at the feeder is less, which means more time out scratching around.

    Also, some years ago, they did a study that showed that hens love to eat off the ground itself. So much so that they will eat a specific amount of time at a feeder and then a specific amount of time off the ground even if the feeder is still full and accessible. Chickens are hard-wired to eat off the ground if given a choice.

    Our hens are so enjoying the good weather and longer days. I am so glad that spring is finally here ... or mostly here. ;-)

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