Help for newbies in North Carolina

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by terryjean, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. terryjean

    terryjean New Egg

    Nov 2, 2010
    Hi to everyone and I just love this site. My husband and I live in North Carolina and have 15 Rhode Island Red hens that are 8 weeks old. This is our first time with chickens and we are loving every minute of it [​IMG]
    We have moved them into the the old coop in the back of the barn of this old 8 acre farmette we have acquired 4 months ago. We have been feeding them Chicken Crumbles from day one as chicks, but my husband was told at a feed store that they could now be fed cracked corn for their entire feed. Somehow this just does not seem right to me from all that I have read.
    Someone please advise; we have opened the bag as of yesterday and money is very tight this month. Should I be feeding them something else to go along with this, perhaps something from my kitchen?
    Thank you for your help and advice,
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Do what you have to- is what I want to say first!

    If money is tight this month, you can make do. But for the health of your chickens in the long run, here's some info.:

    Layer pellets are usually about 16% protein. This is supposed to be their entire feed. Cracked corn is a treat.

    Cracked corn is about 7-8% protein. Eggs are protein, and if you don't give them protein to make their eggs and feathers, they will not be as healthy and won't lay as much.

    But it also depends on what protein you are giving them in the way of kitchen scraps. And if they are able to find huge amounts of bugs to eat. But no, that was really bad advice (but apparently it is the advice of MANY feed stores, from what I read on here) to JUST feed cracked corn.

    Also you might want to put out some oyster shell flakes (feed store) or if you have a cow give them milk for calcium. Grit is good too if you are sure they won't find their own tiny pebbles in the soil.

    For protein this month, you can offer some scrambled or boiled eggs (and crush up the shells into REALLY tiny pieces) to them, and other high protein things from your kitchen. If you have birdseed on hand, the sunflower seeds are good for them and are about 16% protein. The millet in it is around 11% protein.
  3. 4luvofchickens

    4luvofchickens Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Northern NY
    If they are 8 weeks old I would be feeding them grower feed. I do not think corn is going to meet thier nutritional needs. From what I have read it is more for a treat. I live in a cold climate, so I give mine a tiny handful in the morning to help them stay warmer.
  4. Hillbilly Hen

    Hillbilly Hen Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2009
    Newaygo Michigan
    [​IMG] & [​IMG]
    You are right, corn is not enough
  5. terryjean

    terryjean New Egg

    Nov 2, 2010
    OMG, 3 messages to the rescue already! Thank you oh-so-much; I'm gonna tell my husband to take it back and get another bag of crumbles; will also feed them proten from the kitchen. My poor little girls are gonna have the best which is what they deserve.
    Again, thankyou-thankyou-thankyou.
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Usually it is starter then grower then layer -- layer around 20 weeks or when they start laying. Around here, a combo called starter/grower is what is available so I feed that til arelaying. There is also flock raiser and other blends out there. At any rate, you're right, corn alone is far from a complete diet.

    Don't use feed store employees for an info source, please. For the most part they are not knowledgeable or trained. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've just read about an awful lot of bad advice from these well-meaning folks.

    That's what BYC is for!
  7. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2009
    Leicester, NC
    You already got great info from ChickensareSweet, I just wanted to say [​IMG] from a fellow North Carolinian!
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:Oh Whoops!!!

    You are correct. I missed the age when I read the post. Absolutely correct. No oyster shell yet, and grower feed which is usually around 17% protein. Thank you for being awake 4luvofchickens!!!!

    Sorry OP.
  9. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers


    Luckily, chickens are omnivores, which means they eat anything (not just herbivores or carnivores, they will eat plants and meats, and a little bit of minerals in the way of small bits of rock for their gizzards). Anything your family does not finish up will be great treats for your chickens. They'll even clean off the carcass from a Thanksgiving turkey or any chicken bits! They don't care. They can also get protein (and niacin) from bugs.

    Your tired salad bits, left-over pasta, apple cores, Halloween pumpkin guts and even the Jack O'Lantern, sad & late tomatoes from the garden, just about ANYTHING that doesn't have added sugar or lots of salt in it will be good to feed 'em. Don't give 'em avocado skins or seeds, or citrus peels, or chocolate.

    High protein people foods that chickens love are canned tuna, shredded cheese, and cooked eggs chopped or scrambled (so they don't look like eggs any more) and you can even smash up their own egg shells to put calcium back into their diet.

    You'll find that you put a whole lot less in the compost if you have been keeping a compost pile. The chickens will love that stuff! (And they love the bugs and worms attracted to the compost!)

    It's surprising how many folks, even at feed stores, who think chickens just eat cracked corn as their main diet.
  10. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I'll add a little to this.

    Around my very rural area, in the old days, cracked corn was the only thing they actually bought for chickens. To this day, it is what some people around here still call chicken feed. There is even a hardware/lumber/etc. store here that had goat feed and some similar items, but for chickens, they carried only starter and some kind of corn. However, chickens were also fed table scraps and veggie cuttings -- as a poster already said, just about whatever was lying around. Also, again in the old days (I don't really know about now) chickens free ranged, in the true sense of being able to go wherever they want. You can still drive down country roads and see chickens at the roadside. One convenience store in town used to have chickens frequently pecking around their parking lot.

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