How do I know when my girls have had enough to eat?

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by devonviolet, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. devonviolet

    devonviolet New Egg

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    I have had chickens in my backyard for about 4 years. I started with 8 chicks from a local farmer. Out of those 8 I had just one rooster. He is my Hercules who is the only one left from the original flock. My flock has been reduced to 6 from 11 over the last 3 months, One succumbed to the heat I think but the other 4 were killed by predators.
    They are free range over about 1/2 an acre.
    In the beginning they were free range over my full yard but my back patio became such a mess that I finally had to reduce their ranging "scope"
    I give them Layena Crumbles and scratch grain as well as a mixture of table scraps, chopped tomato,grapes, spaghetti, the list goes on!! I am constantly wondering if they are getting enough to eat...They never finish the crumbles or the scratch grain...Right now I have 6 hens who were laying until the predator attacks..............Then they started in the molt and I have not been getting any eggs at all over the past 4 months. I really believe they have not been laying some other places, and I have placed hard boiled eggs in the nesting boxes to check for snakes. BUT that's where the eggs stayed.
    My crumbles pan still has crumbles after 3 days and most of my scratch grain is still on the ground!!
    What is a good feed routine and what feed should I use to provide them with quality nutrition?
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Any layer feed that offers at least 16% protein should offer the nutrition they need. How much they eat of the feed will be influenced by how much they're getting from forage and how much they're getting of scraps. Most chickens will take scraps over their feed any day, so if you're giving them a lot of scraps, make sure there's some good protein in there...or else just cut back on the scraps. But to test how much feed they're eating, put out two cups of crumbles and see how many days it take them to eat it...don't offer any scratch or cracked corn (low nutritional value).

    Stress will cause chickens to stop laying (predator attack). Molting will do the same thing (because the protein that goes into making eggs is now being used to regrow feathers). Short days will also cause egg production to drop off or stop (younger birds will slow down...older birds usually stop).

    It kind of sounds to me like you were hit with a triple whammy timing-wise. The stress of being attacked fed into molting, which has now fed into short days... Make sure your birds are getting plenty of protein - go to a higher protein feed if needed. You can also put a light on a timer to increase the amount of light they're exposed to each day (they need at least 14-16 hours of light for proper egg production).
     
  3. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 3, 2014
    From what you are describing, your flock has too many options to choose from. In general, 90% of the diet should come from a complete feed, with the remaining 10% coming from treats, scraps, scratch grains, etc. If this balance is not maintained, birds will not be receiving the balance of nutrients they need to maintain optimal health and performance.

    Since your flock is receiving so many other feed sources on top of the Layena, they are filling up on those feedstuffs, so by the time they get to their complete feed (Layena), they simply are just not hungry. Put this in terms of your own nutrition; if you snack on candy and sweets all day and then sit down to eat a nutritious meal, how will you feel? You likely will not want much of your meal and therefore will be missing out on all those essential vitamins and minerals, which you need for your own health and wellbeing.

    I would suggest minimizing the scraps and since your chickens have so much access to the outdoors, I would also eliminate the scratch grains from the diet. Provide a diet that is mostly layer feed and make sure to keep the feeder free of built up leftover feed.

    To help protect your flock from predators, I’d also recommend locking them up at night in secured coop. Predators like to strike at night, so simply locking your birds up can help protect them from night-time invasions.
     

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