Help - Chickens wasting feed!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by debir1966, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. debir1966

    debir1966 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho


    As you can see from the pictures, we are having a HUGE problem with food waste! We are feeding a mill-grind complete layer mix. I am wondering is it the type of feeder we are using? Is it too high or too low (I think too low) from the floor? Could it be the type of feed (too fine?). I bet there is at least a half a bag of feed on the floor!

    Do you recommend a different type of feeder, a different height, or even a different texture of food. All suggestions and comments are welcome!

    Thank you.
  2. Makomd

    Makomd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2011
    ES of MD , USA
    I would say definitely too fine. Once the birds get older they will nuzzle around in it and throw it everywhere and likley never return to what fell. Pellets are a better option if available in this case and they will usually return to pick up the pieces that fall.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Different mills grind it to differing levels of fineness/coarseness.

    The problem, from my perspective, is the feeder. In a half century of feeding birds, it just my experience, take it for what it's worth to you, but mash is best served in an old fashioned feeder. You can buy them, you can build them, but the trough feeder is far superior to those new fangled plastic feeders, which are primarily designed for pellets.

    We've a couple plastic type, but rarely use them except in a few tractors, for a short period of time, in growing out adolescents. Perhaps your system can work for you, but it never has for us. When we feed local mill mash, we also "top dress" the serving, in a bucket, with some oil, fat or even warm water, and stir. This serves to bind the product a bit. Zero waste. I feel your pain, given today's feed costs.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  5. debir1966

    debir1966 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    Thank you so much for the quick responses!

    I really am against pellets, but let me explain why :) It is not because I have anything against their form, but we feed non-GMO food. I am not sure if they even make a pellet food non-GMO, and if they did, if we could afford to buy it!

    However, at this rate, we are not going to be able to afford to keep feeding non-GMO! One thing I have been sitting here thinking about is free-feeding. We fill up the feeder every day and they eat as they like. Once a day we give treats - either produce scraps, or if we do not have any of that available, they get scratch and/or black oil sunflower seeds. We also use hay as a bedding so they get to scratch around in that for leaves, etc.

    What is the going opinion on feeding laying hens? Is free-feeding is the only way to go, or do most prefer to feed a ration once or twice a day, a given amount per number of chickens (we have 32 chickens and 2 turkeys).

    I could do a trough type feeder and just feed them a ration once a day as well as the "treats" once a day, but I want to make sure they are getting enough food, without putting twenty-dollar bills on the floor of my chicken coop!

    I would be willing to "top dress" if it would reduce the amount of waste, and I think it would work in a tough feeder, but not a gravity feeder.

    Again, thanks for your input and ideas!
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    There are many, many excellent homemade trough feeders that have been shown on BYC. Some take a 4' length of 8" PVC sewer pipe and drill 2" holes for the birds to peck the feed from. Others, take a 4' or 5' section of rain gutter, like that used on a house, attach end caps, and attach a grid across the top to prevent beaking. Some hinge it for easy filling.

    The sky is the limit. Do some research and you'll find dozens and dozens of designs, most of which are ingenious.

    For me, the mash is not an option either. 100 lbs of mash, high quality Hubbard mash, is $19.50. I could barely buy 60 lbs of pellets for that and not gain any nutrition.

    Nothing wrong with portion feeding, nothing at all. But it takes more effort and knowledge to get it right. Here's to hoping things go better as you more forward.
  7. silkielover92

    silkielover92 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2011
    Eatonville Washington
    take the feeder away. And don't feed them. That may sound mean but if they're hungry enough they will clean it up!
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Chickens love wet food. As FredsHens said you can add some water to your feed to an oatmeal-like consistancy and they will clean up the bowl. Of course, you need a owl or trough feeder for this. You also might check out the Fermented Feed thread if you would like to save a bit of money on your feed. It is not just for meat birds, but many are feeding it to their egg layers now. It will cut down on your feed and it is just feed, water, and a small amount of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to ferment.
  9. RhodeIslandRedFan

    RhodeIslandRedFan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2009
    Central PA
    I agree! Each day just prior to roost time I check my chicken's run, and if there has been a lot of spilled food I remove the feeder. They clean up after themselves in no time. I have several hens who prefer to eat from the ground rather than the feeder. I call them my clean-up crew!
  10. debir1966

    debir1966 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    I actually may do that (take the feed away)... what they have done is picked out all their favorite stuff (peas, corn, boss, etc) and the rest is what is ending up on the floor! I think that is why they don't waste so much with a pellet or crumble, because it is all the same, no favorite pieces LOL.

    I have some smaller chick troughs, and if those will not work, I may ask my husband if he could build me a quick wooden trough and scoop up the food and mix it with some water to get it fed up. Weirdly, the food on the floor does not seem to be overly contaminated with feces. We scooped up a couple shovel fulls today and made a pile outside and it had no droppings in it whatsoever.

    If you all do not think that is a good idea, then just letting them clean it up would be my next preferred option for now as we figure out how to change the way we are feeding them. I am going to call the feed mill where we buy our feed and ask them if they have alot of waste, and if not, how, how often and in what they feed (they raise chickens and turkeys for meat as well as eggs also).

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