Help me figure out feed!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by billmac, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. billmac

    billmac Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    I posted something about this a while ago, but messages disappear quickly on this board.

    I feed my 12 hens Agway layer pellets. They are new layers. The bag says each hen should get about 1.5 lb of pellets per week. They are eating more than twice that. (basically a 50lb bag a week) The bag also says NOT to combine with scratch feed. Their yard is picked clean of vegetation so I understand why they are eating so much, but I'm wondering how I can bring my feed costs down a little while still feeding them enough.

    I understand that scratch grains lower the protein they are getting, but it seems to me they must be getting more than enough the way they are eating. My Agway doesn't sell mixed scratch but they do sell cracked corn. Will a little of this be a bad thing? Wouldn't the extra energy be helpful with winter coming on? (I live in northern NY state).

    If so, how much would you recommend?

  2. SportTees

    SportTees Chillin' With My Peeps

    Go ahead and mix the corn or scratch with the regular food. It wont hurt them and it will help them keep warm this winter. As far as how much to mix everyone has ther own ratio it seems from 1/2 and 1/2 to 1/4 corn to 3/4 feed. Try and find out what works for you.
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    ratio it seems from 1/2 and 1/2 to 1/4 corn to 3/4 feed. Try and find out what works for you.

    She doesn't want to do that...

    I you are feeding a 16% feed and mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with corn your feed will only be 12% protein. If you are feeding a 18% and mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with corn your feed will only be 13% protein. If you want to add corn to your feed and your feed is at least 18% I wouldn't use any more than 20 lbs corn to 80 lbs layer..

    What is the protien amount of the feed you are feeding?

  4. billmac

    billmac Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009

    It is 16% protein but remember, I think they are eating twice as much as the bag calls for.


  5. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    You -could- give them some extra treats to keep them busy, but only after they've eaten plenty of the layer feed or as Chris09 said, you'll be depleating the protein levels for them. Corn or scratch late in the afternoon, or things like cabbage heads etc, to keep them from being bored. Corn is mostly empty carbs for chickens and while it's better than no grain at all, the layer mash is formulated specially for good chicken nutrition.

    I might try some other brand if you have another feed store around... not always possible I know. Also, if you keep the feed out all night, try locking it up in a sealed can, you may have night time visitors helping themselves!
  6. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    I use cracked corn for scratch and to add into their feed in winter. In summer I don't add the corn, just go straight feed - they freerange and get treats/extra protein then. In winter they don't lay as much, don't work as hard, so I mix the cracked corn in (since freeranging is thinner times, then).

    I do 1/3 cracked corn to 2/3 feed in winter, myself - using 16% feed.

    I read somewhere that corn was 10% protein wouldn't that make it 13% mixed half and half with 16% feed?

    Anyway, mine have been doing fne this way for two years.

  7. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I go with a 20% protein feed and require that they eat a certain amount of it before getting treats. The requirement is sort of a "clean your plates before anything else" strategy.

    . . . . and the treats aren't junk food.

    It's fairly simple and not inflexible, I weigh their feeder before refilling. And, then the quantity of the "treats" is based on how much they ate the day before and ongoing.

    You don't tell us the breed of your chickens, Bill. But, let's say that you decide that your 12 birds should eat 3 pounds of their feed each day, at minimum. I don't consider scratch as "bad" food but most of the treats that they are getting are coming from the garden or kitchen as left-over people food.

    Keep in mind that I start off with a 20% protein feed so I feel that gives me more flexibility to add other foods to their diet.

    I would NOT mix scratch with their commercial feed. That will encourage them to bill feed out on the floor so that they can get to the goodies. Then they don't eat a lot of what has been spilled.

    I believe you are thinking correctly about this - a hen needs about 20 grams of balanced protein each day (if I remember correctly). Yeah, that's available in a 16% protein daily ration - if she is eating normally. If the weather is really cold, she is eating more and getting 30 grams of protein isn't really necessary.

    Once I started weighing the feeder, I actually increased the treats last winter. Northern NY is probably even colder than here. Don't be afraid of a few extra calories during the coldest months. They will feel the need to get it themselves by eating more feed anyway.

    . . . just my 2ยข.

  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:It will still be 16% protein... When you see a percentage like 16% protein on your feed bag that is 16% protein per 100 lbs of feed.. 18% = 18% per 100lbs of feed and so on..

    Now I feed a 22% protein feed ( 22% protein per 100 [​IMG] ) for that I have more of a fudge factor when adding treats like scratch..

    When I add my scratch mix to my feed I add a Vit. oil to bind it together and I get less billing of the feed..
    I mix 60 lbs feed to 40 lbs scratch and my feed protein is 19%.
    * The scratch I mix is 16% protein. *

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  9. SportTees

    SportTees Chillin' With My Peeps

    You are putting way to much thought into this.......... In winter corn is fine to mix they don't need as much protien and it helps them keep warm
  10. twentynine

    twentynine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2009
    The chickens caloric requirement is 1.5# per week, however chickens like to have a full belly.

    I feed mine 9 hens and 1 rooster about, well not about but exactly 1 liter of feed per day. This is supplemented with whatever table scraps that come their way, and a 5 gallon bucket of rape/ turnip plants, with about a good big hand full of cracked corn.

    They are housed in a 600 sq ft run divided into 3- 200 sq ft areas. Each area is planted with grass, rye, clover, rape and turnips. So far they have been staying in each area about 2 weeks and then rotated to the next. As they leave the used area the grass and plantings are devistated. in each used area as the chickens leave it I turn the soil and replant. Naturally as winter comes on this plan is not going to work so good. So, outside of the run I have planted about 400 sq ft of rape and turnip, this will be picked and feed to the chickens at the rate of 1 5 gallon bucket a day. My current experiment tells me they can finish that up and eat their feed too.

    I guess what I am trying to get across is: if each chicken eats 1.5# of feed a week, they are assured of getting the needed nutrients and protien required to flourish. Now that don't mean you can't give'm some junk food on top. Cracked corn, scratch grains, table scraps, grass clippings, whatever.

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