Grains vs. Feed-Confusing Advice

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by leasmom, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. leasmom

    leasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    I have had chickens now for over a year and I still consider myself a newbie at it. I've had all kinds of breeds and right now I have 6 hens and 3 pullets.

    I keep getting different advice that is confusing me. I have some people that say use whole grains instead of feed, some that say use feed instead of grains, and some that say use more or less of the grains and mostly feed. And all say give greens/scraps etc.

    SO, does anyone raise their chickens solely on grains? How are your eggs, what do you do?
    Does anyone raise them solely on feed? How are your eggs, what do you do?

    Does anyone give grains and feed, same question???

    I have been buying feed for a long time now but I know alot of farmers/backyard chicken people locally that get whole grains usually from a mill for their chickens and some say that there is less waste with their older hens because of it. I would like to get an ideal of what everyone does so I can decide what I want to do, either to continue what I'm doing or change it up. Thanks.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  2. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    The layer mash that I give my girls is made from ground grains, their scratch is mostly whole grains. I think the biggest advantages of getting "feed" over mixing your own grains would be A) the feed should be nutritionally balanced for chickens, saving you the time and research needed to determine the right blend; and, B) the hens won't be able to sift through to pick and choose which grains they like leaving behind what they don't -- and the nutrition that goes with it.
  3. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    Chickens are not vegetarians. Chicken feed has animal products in it for protein and probably some fat. With only grains chickens will not get everything they need with the biggest thing being protein. There are some ways to supplement protein in a vegetarian only diet but it would not be ideal since chickens are not vegetarians. To make a diet without other animal products you would have to feed a heck of a lot of bugs year round. You also cannot feed chickens on just one grain. Every grain has more or less of certain nutrients than others. You need the proper mix of various grains to get a balanced diet. Usually recipes for homemade mixes include 8-10+ ingredients to make a balanced feed.

    Whole grains can be given as healthy treats but they should be a supplement to a balanced poultry feed.
  4. sugarbush

    sugarbush Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    A bird cannot live on grain alone.
  5. sandypaws

    sandypaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2008
    desert of calif
    i think to have healthy chickens you need to feed all of it...
    i supply bowls/pans with a scoop of "lay crumble" or "game bird crumble"... "feed"
    i also give them "scratch" gains.. i toss around the yard, so they have something to look/hunt for...
    in the winter or as a treat i give them, "3 way with moleasses" horse grains,,
    in the winter or while moulting i feed a small amount of dry kitten food .. mixed in with their crumbles
    i give them all the "imperfect" veggies out of my garden..
    and last but not least i also give them all the leftovers from dinner or when i clean the fridge.. they LOVE spaghetti
    oh and dont forget the oyster shells

    i know a guy that only feeds his chickens scratch gains.. BAD BAD BAD,, the chickens rarley lay eggs and always look like they are in a state of moult.. poor pathetic things... i try to tell him what is right,, he doesnt listen
  6. leasmom

    leasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    I do the same things giving a variety but I keep getting advice from people that tell me all kinds of things confusing me so badly.

    What is your 3 way with molasses?
  7. NurseNettie

    NurseNettie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2008
    Northern Maine
    Quote:You've gotten good advice here -- and you've probably gotten a lot of opinions in many places.

    If you're looking for simplicity and good nutrition, stick with a layer feed (which they should have anyhow). You can supplement with just about anything else you want, but the key word is supplement--- Whole grains/scratch, and other "treats" should be treats and not provide the majority of diet.
    As far as kitchen scraps, there's no need to limit them, other than stay away from sugars, and additives they don't need. Veggie and meat scraps are great for them and is only limited by the quantity you produce. Veggies, etc, from the garden are great in unlimited quantities when you have them. However, if you don't have the scraps to give-- as long as they have their balanced feed, they'll be fine.
  8. sandypaws

    sandypaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2008
    desert of calif
    3-WAY is just 3 whole grains (wheat, oats, barly?? cant remember) with some moleasses on it , usually sold as a horse or goat feed.. they like the grains and the sweetness gives them a bit more energy/fat store for winter.. like i said tho, i just give it as a treat!!
  9. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    You can find this advice from university poultry scientists: "Do not give your flock scratch feed or table scraps. Do not mix a complete commercial feed with scratch grains."

    However, I like these poultry scientists better: "A general rule of thumb is to feed only as much scratch as the chickens can consume in about 20 minutes, or about 10 to 15 percent of their total daily food consumption. . . . Table scraps and greens . . . The same rule applies here: the total supplementation of scratch and table scraps should be no more than can be cleaned up in about 20 minutes."

    And, you know what? I can find you poultry scientists that give you advice on even higher percentages of whole grain in the rations. What to do? What I do is weigh the commercial feed. After the birds have eaten what I believe they should - then they can have treats. That is about the same as my mother did for this little bird [​IMG].

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  10. msgenie516

    msgenie516 The Happy Hen

    May 16, 2008
    Nesconset, LI, NY

    I give my chickens layer feed, some scratch grains and cracked corn in the winter. Not really any additional cracked corn in the warmer months, and less scratch (also contains corn) as I read digesting the corn warms their bodies and may be too much when the weather is warmer. Also, I give them some veggies. But their main diet is the layer feed. I also offer oyster shell.

    They do extremely well, produce quality eggs of a nice color and size with thick shells, and they look healthy, also.

    Just my two cents! Genie

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