Hay for your birds?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by PattyO, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. PattyO

    PattyO Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2010
    There was a little thing on Chicken Chat that talked about providing alfalfa hay for your birds. Can and do they eat the stem of the hay or just the sometimes leafy part of the hay. Is this a feasable substitute for grass much like a horse?
  2. islpet

    islpet Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 8, 2011
    I've used hay in the chick brooders and they do eat a lot of it. For alfalfa with the coarse stems I'd just shake out most of the leaf and use the stems for something else. My goats eat the stems or you could mulch your garden with them.
  3. coopncottage

    coopncottage Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 22, 2011
    Front Range
    I gave the girls alfalfa today just to see what they'd do with it, and I was surprised to see that it disappeared relatively quickly (it was mostly the leaves, not many stems. I gathered up some of the loose stuff that filters through the bales we have). They really liked it!
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You can also buy alfalfa in pellet form. $15 for a 50# bag. The pellet size is for horses and too big for chickens, as is.

    But, here's the thing. If you put just a handful in a bucket and cover with an inch of water and leave it overnight. In the morning, the pellets have exploded into a huge size!!! They fluff into an enormous amount. You can experiment. See if your chickens will take to eating it as is. Or, you can mix into a pail of their regular mash or crumble. I've been mixing at a 4 parts mash to 1 part alfalfa ratio. It is a way of feeding greens to your birds when the grass is dead or covered with snow. It does wonders for the egg yolk color as well.
  5. dragonlair

    dragonlair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2008
    The alfalfa cubes are great to soak and feed out. The alfalfa in the cubes are a bit bigger than in the pellets and the chickens seem to like them better. Mine won't eat the pellets, soaked or dry, but LOVE the cubes either soaked or the dry parts that have seperated from the cubes.
  6. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2009
    Where do you get alfalfa? I've seen the alfalfa hay bales at TSC...don't remember the price, but it seemed expensive (seems like it was around $18?) & it seems like they were a lot smaller than the average size of a bale of hay.

    What about the pellets or cubes?
  7. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
  8. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    Quote:We supplement with alfalfa since we have nothing green growing naturally here in the desert for chickens to eat much of the year....
  9. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2009
  10. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    Greens, including leafy hay, is good for chickens. However, be very careful that you aren't feeding long, coarse hay, which can get impacted in their crop. Also, chickens can get quite sick from musty, moldy hay. Rather than feed hay, I far prefer fresh greens like cabbages, or letting them free-range a bit on the lawn. If you have large animals (or even rabbits) that you feed hay to, your chickens can do a nice job of shredding the compost pile, eating seed bits and generally breaking it all down for you. But, as I said, watch out for those long strands. I once saved a hen from choking on a long leek strand. (see my blopost http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2006/09/petunia-saved/). Once a hen starts slurping something down, she can't stop until it's all in, so be careful! One other caution about feeding dried greens - they're bulky and will fill the hen up. The majority of her feed should be from a balanced ration of laying pellets.

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