Hens Have Lost Appetite For Feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by gsim, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a flock numbering 17 layers of age 2 1/2 yrs. They are Barred Rock, Golden Comet, Black Aussie, and Rhode Island Red. They have not been eating their feed ration much for the past 6 weeks or so. They are alert and perky, and still pounce on treats and greens, but have reduced their intake of feed. They are molting. I changed feed brand and it did no good. [​IMG] They seem to be healthy but I see maybe one egg every two days. We were getting around 6 - 8 eggs a day before this started up. Am going to add calf manna to their feed ration. We had a recent hawk attack that got two (so much for silver streamers!) That was 2 weeks ago, well after the slowdown happened. Any ideas out there?

    Gerry
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    They can feel pretty badly during a molt, and it's not unusual for them to lose weight just from this. And yet they actually could use some extra protein at this time since feathers are largely protein. It's not unusual for them to eat less feed and wait for treats, in flocks tha get lots of extras. Stressors like a hawk attack can affect the flock for a while, too. It's a wonder you are getting any eggs at all, as they often stop laying entirely during a molt.
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've noticed that the feed consumption in our flock goes down in the winter, too, coinciding with decreased laying. If a hen isn't pumping out those eggs, she doesn't need to gobble up food the same way she does when she's laying. Makes sense, actually.
     
  4. TheSpiceGirls

    TheSpiceGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine definitely ate less as they went into their molt. I did try to give them a little something high in protein every day, a few meal worms each, scrambled egg or some wet feed turned into mash with some seeds sprinkled in.

    It's SOOOOO painful to watch them go through their molt. But if they seem healthy and are not loosing weight, then they are probably fine.
     
  5. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They will hold out for treats. That means they are training you to feed them treats. Your treat portions exceed the food portion. Feed only enough treats they devour in 5 minutes or less and pick it up. If you are giving candy to your children and do it daily for each meal why wait for dinner and hold out for the snickers bar. My rule is 5 minutes and if there is left over your feeding them way to much treat. A treat is a treat not a meal.
     
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Nope, I am wise to that routine. The treats in no way come up to the volume of feed available. I am well aware that they will lay more eggs if on feed only. I give them treats to improve the flavor of the eggs, knowing that they will lay fewer. They devour treats for sure, in less than 5 minutes. I am soon adding calf manna to see what response if any comes from that. I am sure that age is a factor here too, being as they will be 3 yrs old in May.
    Gerry


    [​IMG]
     
  7. Quote:X2 except i would actually pull the treats completely for several days. Then start over with minimal treats. Watch your amount of scratch they are getting as well. Do you bribe them in to the coop nightly with scratch? If they are getting a lot of scratch drop it to one cup (ONE cup total..not per bird) just before sunset.
    Also as most have stated you may want to watch the protein in the feed. Put them on flock raiser for a while and offer oyster shell free choice.
    Finally.... have they been wormed lately?
    Edited because you were already writing a response as I was writing this. I see your answer now.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  8. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Quote:X2 except i would actually pull the treats completely for several days. Then start over with minimal treats. Watch your amount of scratch they are getting as well. Do you bribe them in to the coop nightly with scratch? If they are getting a lot of scratch drop it to one cup (ONE cup total..not per bird) just before sunset.
    Also as most have stated you may want to watch the protein in the feed. Put them on flock raiser for a while and offer oyster shell free choice.
    Finally.... have they been wormed lately?
    Edited because you were already writing a response as I was writing this. I see your answer now.

    I only give them a cup of scratch grain a day, in AM when I let them out. Ongoing thing since they have lived here. I am not sure about my wife tho and am going to tell her to be sure not to do that. She likely does sometimes. I know the 5% rule and likely am over that somewhat by volume. It cannot hurt to stop for a few days to see what develops. Am currently installing netting overhead following a 2nd double hawk kill. The have always performed well even with copious amounts of treats from our garden in summertime. Still, it can hurt nothing to change up the routine for awhile.

    Gerry
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    What feed and how much feed are you feeding?

    Each hen should be eating about .25 lbs of feed a day (average feed intake for a medium-weight laying hen is .25 lbs) so your 17 birds should be eating around 4.25 lbs of feed a day.
    Now also keep in mind that you don't want to feed more than 10% Calf Manna a day and that is only going to be around .42 lbs Calf Manna per day for your 17 hens.

    If it was me I would mix the Calf Manna in to some Scratch Feed at the above rate and feed as a treat and not add it to there feed.
    Example --
    32 lbs Scratch (regular 8% protein will work)
    10 lbs Calf Manna
    8 lbs Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
    Above mix is a 50 lb mix that is 14% protein.

    On a side note by adding Calf Manna to there feed intake you are upping there Energy intake and by upping there Energy intake you will be lowering there feed intake.

    Chris
     

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