Help! Chickens won't eat scraps!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JungleChicken, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. JungleChicken

    JungleChicken Out Of The Brooder

    Hi There,

    I've just bought three point-of-lay hy-line brown pullets from a commercial breeder. The little girls were brought up in a small space and (I'm guessing) fed only crumbles.

    They peck at some cabbages and kai lan growing in their yard, but not to the point of eating anything near their fill, or even enough for a snack. Any scraps I throw in (mango, apple, cucumber, melon etc) just gets stared at. The fruit scraps have been ignored, but I know they're hungry because they will gobble down any crumbles I throw in. I've been giving them crumbles as a last resort to make sure they don't starve - I'll generally only throw in a handful toward the end of the day.

    Having said that, they did eat a bunch of Kang Kong (Asian water weed) once, but it took three chickens two days to do so. They also dig around all day in the soil (not sure how much food they get from the sandy soil, but I'm guessing not much). I once threw in some cereal we didn't like and that was wolfed down, but the cereal is a once-off and it's the fruit and vegie scraps that I want them to eat. I guess the cereal looked reasonably familiar to them.

    I don't want to remove the crumbles from their diet to try and coax them to eat scraps unless I'm sure they won't starve themselves. How much should three hens eat in a day?

    Does it normally take time for new feathered friends to recognise scraps as good food? Any suggestions on assisting the transition?

    So many questions! Any advice would be much appreciated!

    Nad
     
  2. ErinG

    ErinG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm confused, are you not feeding them a well balanced chicken feed in addition to scraps? They won't be healthy on just scraps. Scraps should be fed as a treat, not as a substitute for feed.
     
  3. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's normal. My girls give me a queer look at most of what I toss in. I envy all those folks out there that have hungry birds, gobbling up all the scraps. Each flock has their own preferences. They are like kids, you have to introduce it 15 times before they accept it. Keep trying, you'll find out what turns them on.

    And... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  4. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

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    Learn to trust your chickens. Keep feeding the well balanced chicken feed and don't worry about them eating scraps!
     
  5. JungleChicken

    JungleChicken Out Of The Brooder

    Hi Erin,

    Yes, they're getting proper nutritionally balanced crumbles. My problem is that they're eating crumbles and nothing else - even when I control their crumble intake.

    It would be nice for them to eat my vegie and fruit scraps too - like other people's hens seem to do! I'm guessing they've never seen anything like scraps before, so I was wondering whether anyone else has had the same problem and if there's a way to get them eating stuff other than crumbles.

    Nad
     
  6. AccentOnHakes

    AccentOnHakes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2009
    I would advise you to start with yogurt as a treat first. Sprinkle the yogurt with their feed so they will try it. Once they recognize yogurt as food and will eat it plain, it's time to move on to the next step.

    If serving large foods like melon rinds, apples cores:
    Smear some yogurt onto the treat. They will peck at the yogurt and get the other treat, then start eating the treat once they figure out it's good.

    If serving small foods like cut up tomato, etc.:
    Dip about half of each piece into the yogurt. They will again, go after it for the yogurt, but because part of the treat is exposed, they will learn what the treat looks like.

    Hope this works for you! [​IMG]
     
  7. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just a thought, I baked or cooked them (veggies and fruits) and the mushy consistency was more appealing than the raw. [​IMG]

    They don't like tackling food that puts up a fight.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  8. ErinG

    ErinG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh good. Yes, they are funny creatures and will look at new foods like they are an alien sometimes. Some things my chickens like to eat are: yogurt (as someone else mentioned), oatmeal, tomatoes, scrambled egg, watermelon rinds, meat scraps (fully cooked, not spoiled, not salty). I would start with soft things and work up to leafy things. Each chicken has their favorite foods! Good luck.
     
  9. JungleChicken

    JungleChicken Out Of The Brooder

    [​IMG]

    Thanks guys. I guess I just have the scrap-staring variety of pullet. LOL.

    It's obvious they're not food connoisseurs like their mother if they're ignoring the mango! I was sure they'd go crazy for it. Maybe I just need to talk to them or create a picture book with clear images of hens eating scraps that I can read to them at bed time.
     
    princessclucky and SarSen like this.
  10. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    I think maybe a more simpler approach by first introducing things they can peck at easier, new seeds and grains, then try flakes of oats and cereal, then small veggie scraps that are red, chickens love to peck red things and so on. they are young POL egg machines that were raised in a strict almost battery hen hatchery enviroment, they really don't even know how to be chickens yet. time will tell if they will acclimate and be cool chickens or if they will remain zombie hatchery battery pullets. good luck though.
     

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