How much to feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Lagracie88, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. Lagracie88

    Lagracie88 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 2, 2007
    I was wondering how much is the right amount to feed? My girls (3) get 3 1/2 cups of Layena pellets in the morning and then a snack (cottage cheese, bananas, etc) in the evening. Sometimes they don't eat all the snack that afternoon so I "think" they are getting enough food. They also lay every day too.

    What is everyone else's opinion?
     
  2. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    It's recommended that they have layer available 24/7. Snacks should be limited to 10% of their daily intake.

    By the way, how did you end up with three chickens? All your other "children" seem to be in pairs! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2007
  3. Lagracie88

    Lagracie88 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 2, 2007
    I wanted three very different looking ones to start. I have one Barred Rock and two RIRs. One of the RIRs was supposed to be a black sex link but no! none were available. I am going to get a fourth one in the Spring because I notice the two RIRs buddy up and ignore my Dolley. Poor thing runs after them just wanting to be part of the group!

    I think I am going to have DH set me up something different for their food. When the weather is dry I scatter the pellets so they can spend their day digging around and keeping busy. Snacks come right from Mommy's hand - I am VERY popular in the afternoon!
     
  4. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Quote:I'll bet you are! [​IMG]
     
  5. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Each chicken should about .358076 pounds of feed per day, a little more when it is cold out. If you live where it is cold now, below 50 degrees, add some corn to their feed. This builds up their body temperture.
     
  6. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 8, 2007
    would it not be better to quote caloric needs of a chicken? If I have a lot of meat scraps and pumpkins for the winter, for example, I would want to calculate how much grains would they need every day on top of that. From what I can gather, a large breed layer needs about 600 kcals, about 20% of them proteins.

    I am new at this, but I have trouble believing that some stale soybeans mash has better nutritional values than whole food "snacks". Also, what would happen if I let them completely choose their diet, that is, one day I show up in their pen with unlimited amounts of meat, grains, and vegetables (not fries or bread), and let them choose? I guess it might lower egg production, but will it really make them sicker?
     
  7. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Hey this is interesting! I have been having the same thoughts, glib, about whether layer pellets are really "better"..... While I totally understand that this is a scientifically formulated feed with the proper ratios of fat/protein/carbs/etc, I also feel like the hens seem to know what their bodies need.

    I certainly wouldn't advocate letting them have all the junky stuff (white bread, e.g) they wanted, I do wonder about the whole limiting "treats" school of thought.

    here's why: lately it has been REALLY cold here. In addition to our free-choice organic layer pellets (which they eat plenty of) we've been giving a cup or two of scratch scattered in the run. They like that, for sure. But what they really go CRAZY for is FAT and PROTEIN. The last few days they've been getting the trimmings and fat scraps from the Christmas roast, and they are just rabid for it. I noticed the same thing when I gave them sardines. They'll also attack the lettuce, fruit, spaghetti, or oatmeal I give them, but not with anywhere near the same ferocity as the fat & meat.

    It makes sense... it's frigid out and don't all animals crave more fat & protein in winter? I know I do!!! At first I was feeling guilty, like I should cut back on that stuff... but then I thought about how the layer pellets are just an average feed.... so its the same for winter or summer, north or south. I think my girls really DO need more of this stuff right now, and that's why they're being so rabid about it.

    The treats we feed are all comparable to what they'd get if they were free-ranging, I believe. (And of course they're not now, with all the snow). Here's an example of the last few days "treats":
    cranberries
    apple cores
    fat off an organic rib roast
    meat scraps off same
    organic baby greens ("past due" bags from Wild Oats)
    black oil sunflower seeds
    organic vegetable peelings

    If they were free-ranging, they'd be eating comparable stuff as far as grubs, bugs, and greens. It's not junk food... at least I don't think so..... I'm open to any arguments about this, but I am feeling like they should be allowed more than the recommended 5% of these items if they want. It just seems HEALTHIER than the pellets, especially with the alck of free ranging....

    What do you all think?
     
  8. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 8, 2007
    Yes, Seachick, I agree with most of what you say, although in our case we do not lay eggs in the summer, and we live in heated dwellings in winter. But, surely if there is a seasonal cycle in our feeding habits, there must be one in theirs as well, and mash will not take care of that. Lots of choice might.

    More careful owners try at least to feed hot food (corn) to them in winter, and one should consider cool food (watermelon, for example, lowers human body temperature), but probably the best one can do is test them and see what they prefer in which season.
     
  9. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Treats may be fine once in awhile for some, but not me. I have enough problems with predators without putting scraps out. When I do give the chickens treats, I have to stay right there and see that they are all eaten. Any left overs, I have to pick up and remove from the pen. The chickens seen to be happy with this. They get their pellets as usual, plus extra corn. This keeps their body temperture up even in the snow. I have a roo and two hens that flat refuse to go inside. Last night I did my best to get them in, no way. This morning on my way to work the roo let me know they were OK. As I was pasting under their pine, he jumped around to knock some snow down on me. His way of saying good morning I guess.
    The area where I live has a BIG BEAR problem right now. When we put our trash out, we wash all the cans out before putting them in the trash container. Then I have a pulley system in place so I can pull the container off the ground. This keeps the predators from coming around and getting into the trash cans.
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I would not assume that 'what a chicken would get in nature if free ranging in a bountiful environment' would necessarily be its optimal diet for health, laying or disease resistance, since that doesn't seem to be true for the other animals I can think of. There is a whole lot more to nutrition than total calories and % total protein, you know? And while it is popular to imagine that animals have some sort of infallible instinct that tells them exactly what they are lacking and what foods to eat to remedy the deficiency, actual tests indicate that most animals' abilities in this regard are rather limited. Animals are not magical, they are fallible critters sorta like you and me [​IMG]

    OTOH 'what a chicken would [etc]' SHOULD be sufficient to keep body and soul adequately together, even if the bird is less robust than it might be. So if you don't care about optimum performance and don't stress the birds and they don't get sick, then sure, feed them a nature-like menu of foods and some grit and calcium source if you like, and call it good enough. If you grow the food yourself it *does* have the advantage of involving less mega-intensive agribusiness product.

    Anyhow, a lot of the 'no more than a small % of treats' thing can probably be chalked up to conservative advice-giving when the advice giver can't tell whether 'treats' is going to mean the sort of sensible buffet that Seachick describes, or a month of nuthin' but tomatoes, or a giant marshmallow binge [​IMG]

    Mostly extrapolating from horse nutrition, with book-knowledge of chicken nutrition added,

    Pat
     

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