here comes the poop???

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by phillyfarmer, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. phillyfarmer

    phillyfarmer In the Brooder

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    May 16, 2009
    Not sure if this is the right section to post this??? Let me know if it is not.

    My hens are eating chicken poop.

    there seems to be one or two of them when they poop the others swarm around to eat their poop. some peck at the exit door where it comes out.

    Is this normal? I was thinking that maybe they are eating the corn that is not being digested?

    Any help would be appreciated. I am worried there is something wrong with two of them. Could they have worms or something else?

    Thanks!
     
  2. threehorses

    threehorses Songster

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    Well to help you, we need more information.

    First, there shouldn't be any undigested corn coming through - which leads me to a question about diet. What are they getting to eat, exactly? Are you providing grit (granite grit) as well? How old are these birds? Do you have feed for them free-choice? Are they broiler types?
     
  3. phillyfarmer

    phillyfarmer In the Brooder

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    May 16, 2009
    Okay,

    They are layers and are a few months old. Started laying July 18th(the first one and the other 3 with in two weeks) They are getting layers feed which is free choice. Pellets. I just switched them over about a week ago. They get scratch once per day. They are let out to free range for about 2hours minimum but typically it is 6hours or more.

    As for the grit I have thrown some(granite) in their coop ontop of the shavings, then threw out some handfuls in the run. I figured when they are free ranging they should be getting some too. Oh and they sometimes get table scraps like fruit and greens.

    Do they need more grit? Should this be free choice? [​IMG]
     
  4. threehorses

    threehorses Songster

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    Did they start this behavior with the new feed, or were they doing it before? Since the feed has only been in effect one week, it still has time to really kick in. I was wondering about protein issues. A little scratch is fine, there's no problem there when given in small amounts with it overly interfering with their protein levels. Next bag of feed I'd go up to 18 or 20 percent protein if you have that option. If you're already there, I would just stick with that.

    In the mean time I'd try feeding back their eggs this week a couple of times - maybe a couple of eggs this week. Try to increase the protein level.

    They're looking for something.

    I would also give grit free choice, yes. Putting it in a little dish (like a cheap cat feeding plastic bown) along with free choice oyster shell is the way I do it. If you put it on the ground, they're more likely to pick up parasites. So i just let them have it in a dish. I might toss some about near the dish to peak their interest and then slowly empty the rest into their bowl while they're looking. You're not having egg shell problems and if you offer this to them you'll likely continue not to as long as they have laying feed that is fresh, not an excess of grain, and oyster shell.

    As for the grit it's the hardness of the stone that makes me give it free choice, not the availability of grit around in the environment. We have lots of grit here in the ground, but it's not necessarily the kind that will stay there for a while working. So I feed a little granite grit. It doesn't take much, but having the appropriate size and hardness will help birds keep weight on and keep grinding their grains properly. Giving occassional yogurt (with its live bacteria) help to finish breaking down what the grit started.

    The tablescraps, and particularly the greens are a great idea as long as they're healthful of course. [​IMG] I asked someone to clarify on their kitchen scraps and I've heard everything from "shrimp tails" to "birthday cake". So now I clarify with a statement like "something you wish your 6 year old kids would crave instead of having to nag them to eat it". [​IMG]

    So are you seeing any grains come through, or are they just picking at one another's droppings?

    You might try hanging something up like broccoli stems, or a cabbage head (a day after offering grit free choice). And see if that distracts them.

    They're not in rather close quarters are they?
     
  5. phillyfarmer

    phillyfarmer In the Brooder

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    May 16, 2009
    I would say they started this behavior when they got the new feed or close to that time.

    Okay I will try to give them eggs. I am guessing they should be cooked right or do I give it to them raw?

    I will put the grit out for free choice then.

    LOL! Yep table scraps are things I wished the kids would eat.

    The coop is 4x8, run is 8 x 12. And I only have 4 girls. I think that is plenty of space dont you? Now the portable run(chicken tractor of sorts) is 6 x10, and I put all 4 of them in there at once time. We have had alot of rain so ground is soft and bugs are plentiful.
     
  6. threehorses

    threehorses Songster

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    Quote:Interesting about the timing. Is this feed lower protein than the previous one? Did they really like it, eat it well?

    Yes, cooked eggs please. I never give raw. Sounds like they have good room. And the tractor.

    I didn't even cover calcium by the way. Do they have free choice oyster shells?
     
  7. phillyfarmer

    phillyfarmer In the Brooder

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    May 16, 2009
    I went out to put the chickens up and gave them 4 eggs scrambled. They chowed it down! I think you have figured it out.

    I also checked their new feed bag. It is 16% protein. Do you think that is enough or should I get another bag of feed that is high protein and mix them? Or do I need to supplement the cooked eggs several times per week? Is four eggs enough?

    I do not have oyster shells but I wash and dry their eggs really good then crush them up and give it back to them. I have read that the bugs shells contain calcium for the eggs so since they are free ranging I didnt think it was essential. What do you think?

    They have layed nice eggs. We didnt get any weird ones. The shells are smooth and the eggs are large already.
     
  8. threehorses

    threehorses Songster

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    16% is pretty good and standard. I prefer 18-20, but 16 is fine. You can spoil them and bribe them to be very friendly by giving them a weekly treat of eggs, or cottage cheese, stuff like that. You don't have to - but it helps. I think four eggs was plenty. I bet they'd argue and say "more" though! [​IMG]

    As for the calcium, I still am sticking with oyster shells. I'll tell you why.

    First, bugs aren't a reliable quantity - not consistent. (They do help.)
    Egg shells aren't as bioavailable -they don't dissolve as readily. There is now "flour", and sometimes the flour really helps in a pinch.
    Oyster shell is highly degradable as it's already crushed for you, and cleaned. It's been the standard for literally over a hundred years even over egg shells and there's a good reason for that - its bioavailability.

    Now, some feed store guys will tell you that there's plenty of calcium in the feed. It's what they've been told by the feed vendors to say, an innocent miscommunication of what laying pellets provide as far as calcium is concerned. (I worked as a feed clerk for a while, and then with sales vendors for agricultural supply companies - so I know what they've been told to tell you or how to explain to customers what the birds need.)

    The calcium in laying feed is fortified to meet the needs of a scientifically average hen. The cal/phos level is over 6:1. 6 parts calcium to 1 part grain source phosphorus. That is what the researchers determined the average hen to need. That doesn't take into account the ones that need less or the ones that need more. Some normal healthy hens might need as much as 15:1.

    But the manufacturers can't accommodate the 15:1 hens in a bag of laying feed because that would force the 6:1 hens to take in twice the amount of calcium than they need possibly giving them hypercalcemia.

    So it's been the poultry man standard for centuries to provide oyster shell free choice and allow those hens who need more to instinctively get that extra on their own. Even with all our advances, it remains the standard as it's really the most effective manner. (The laying feed takes care of the vitamin D and phosphorus - those are not often needed in excess of what the feed provides.)

    I'm certain that with as much money and research goes into poultry feeding, and how the industry is ALWAYS looking to save a dime, that if egg shells were the way to go they themselves would be using them. They don't. So I always provide extra because as the hens lay they can start good and then deplete their own calcium stores. Then you might miss an egg without ever seeing a soft shell. Problems start, and I hate problems. I'd rather see a few little calcium bumps on the eggs than none, just in case.

    It does sound like your girls are doing really well on the calcium but if ever you see one drop off on laying without being in molt, I would still highly recommend oyster shell for the reasons above. [​IMG]

    I'm excited about hearing how they do in the next couple of weeks. I really hope they stop their coprophagy as I'm sure it's pretty unnerving to see your own birds doing that. If they continue, I'd think about maybe minerals as a supplement. If they don't stop, let me know and we'll see if we can't try a second approach. But hopefully this will do it.

    Thank you for all your questions and thorough and quick responses!
     
  9. phillyfarmer

    phillyfarmer In the Brooder

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    May 16, 2009
    WOW! You sure know your stuff about chickens!!! I did tons of research before deciding on getting them....but after your last response...maybe I didnt do enough! LOL! [​IMG]

    Got the dog bowl. I guess it was a dog bowl, could have been a cats? But got it at TractorSupply. It has two bowls to it. One I put grit and the other I put Oyster shells (which I also got today at the tractorsupply)

    I gave the girls some blueberries which they love and that went well. I threw down a handful of grit and oyster shells along with the blueberries.

    Earlier I also had them out in the portable run for 7hours today. When I put them out there in the morning I gave them a small bowl of grit. They ate that right up. Tomorrow I will put another bowl of grit out and see what happens. I think I might make them eggs for breakfast too. The ones they layed today were oh so pretty!

    The dog bowl is in their coop for free choice. I showed them where it was but they didnt really seem too interested. But who knows maybe they had had their fill for the time being.

    I further inspected the poo this morning. There isnt corn in it. It looks like it is little pebbles, or stones Almost like grit but they seem a little bit smaller. They are different colors so I am wondering if they are the stones they are getting from the ground and these are just passing right thru their systems?

    We will wait to see what happens in the next few days....
     
  10. threehorses

    threehorses Songster

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    LOL I had to smile and blush a bit at reading your post. Thank you for your kind words. When I was a kid, I was bored. My mom had a poultry disease text book - little mustard colored hardback - and I'd sit and read that, look at all the necropsy pictures. It was just something I was interested in - taking care of animals. That was over 30 years ago and I just never stopped. I still read poultry disease books for fun because I just think it's interesting and the information always increases, there's always new stuff they're learning. Me, too!

    Your set up sounds great. Funny how they went after the grit. I'm curious about what they're passing in their droppings. Usually I'll see some oat hulls, a few if any - just vague suggestions of fiber. But rarely solid anything. I wonder if their digestive tracts are just running very fast. Then again it takes some time for the grit to get to the gizzard and start its' work.

    I'd definitely keep looking at the droppings - see if you see them improve, if you can figure out what the mystery pebbles are. Their droppings are solid, yes? I wonder if those are berry seeds? Any possibility of such a thing?

    The blueberries sound wonderful ( and now I have a craving - I know what I'm having for my midnight snack!)

    I'd love to know how things go, please. I'm really curious. Would you mind letting me know what you find? I'd sure appreciate it. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009

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