How many treats is too many?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Rosalind, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    I've been giving 16 19-week-old chickens all the household leftovers for about a week. Now the little buggers are being picky about their regular food.

    Regular food consists of grower crumbles mixed with layer pellets, about 1/3 grower to 2/3 layer, and a bit of scratch grains, plus free-choice grit and oystershell. They don't seem terribly interested in oystershell yet, other than making a few investigational pecks.

    Treats consist of about 1-1 1/2 cups of cooked rice, 1/2 cup cooked veggies and maybe 1/4-1/2 cup of steamed fish twice a week, as well as 3-4 cups of half-wilted salad greens every week and the occasional tomato or half cantaloupe. Basically, I make dinner in the rice cooker, and whatever DH and I don't eat gets thrown to the chickens. I've been putting a handful of pumpkin seeds and buttermilk on their rice this week, to help keep any worms under control just in case. They eat bugs and weeds in their pen, but they've pretty well trampled everything in there by now.

    No eggs yet, although they've yanked all the straw out of their nesting boxes and made nests with it on the floor of the barn. They are not appearing to get fat, as they are barely emptying their feeder. They do congregate around the plastic bin of feed, like they can get the lid off somehow if they just try hard enough. They aren't getting exceptionally fat, and a couple of the girls seem a little thin due to what I thought was behavioral issues (the braver girls are normal-sized and feel heavy), so I moved all but the meekest little roo into another room. Am I really overfeeding the treats? Think they are not getting enough of their regular food, and maybe that's why they are slim? Does rice, veggies and salmon not have half enough calories compared to layer pellets?
  2. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Hi Rosalind - I'm by no means an expert but will offer my two cents - if you were getting fed rice, veggies, fish and all those other great foods, would you want to eat dry commercial chicken feed? I wouldn't either and neither would the chickens. I also feed mine all sorts of great foods plus they free range over several acres of woods all day long from morning till night. They too only eat the dry chick food (which is out and available 24/7) as a last resort. They are healthy, their feathers are so shiney, they've never been sick, they don't fight, the list goes on and on. So.....I would keep feeding them the things you are - those items you listed aren't really "treats" they're great food sources - much more like they would get in nature if allowed to run wild.
  3. EboyDog

    EboyDog In the Brooder

    Jul 15, 2007
    Hallsville MO
    I'm having the same problem, I spoiled my guys with apples, watermelon and kitchen scraps so they only eat the dry feed when there isn't anything else!

    On the brighter side, it does save some money ate least on chicken feed however I find myself buying more apples at the grocery store than I usually do esp after my guys cleaned the two apples trees out!
  4. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    Mine get a treat or two each day, especially since it has been so hot but they go in the coop four times a day, that I have seen and eat their dry food. If they are too slim then cut back on the anything they will eat when they get hungry enough. This heat has not stopped mine from eating at all and they free-range, too. Our grandparents and before them...think what did they feed? Just use your own good common will do fine. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  5. SandraChick

    SandraChick Songster

    My belief is that if they free range, there is no such thing as too many treats. Mine will walk away from them if there are "too much".

    On the other hand....if they are confined and have no alternatives besides feed, that is where their diet can go awry. They get excited over the treats and then when they get too many grains...they can't make up the lack of protein with spending more time getting bugs.

    That's my simplistic attempt to explain it anyway!

  6. A few weeks back, when my babies (now 18 weeks) were new to free ranging, they would go mad for any and all treats. A handful of whole oats or BOSS or cooked rice thrilled them.

    Now that they are better at getting their own bugs and such they will actually leave some of those treats (eventually coming back to snarf them up) and go a-hunting.

    I don’t think chickens are supposed to be fat, are they? Mine seem, well, fit.

    I might concerned if mine were much younger and not snorggling down the commercial feed but at this age they seem to choose wisely.
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    That's what I do, anything that can eventually rot or mold goes to the chickens for them to pick through first. They free range all day and eat a lot less commercial feed.

    The only thing I'd do different is nix the corn. If it's above like 40 deg out, they don't really need it. It is candy to them and makes them run warmer digesting it.
  8. Nyna

    Nyna Songster

    Jul 3, 2007
    Western Montana
    You know, I have the same problem. I thought they didn't like the feed I was getting them. But they free range too so maybe they are just getting enough food from that? [​IMG]
  9. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    mine must be just pigs! [​IMG] You know I like you guys!! You all just use good common sense! [​IMG] it's not rocket science is it? [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007

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