How small to cut up food for chickens?

Ballerina Bird

Songster
5 Years
Aug 29, 2014
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I know this is a ridiculous question, but I've had my 10-week old pullets for three days and am mystified as to how they eat! It seems to be quite difficult for them -- they take only a grain of food at a time and then work very hard at making that successful. I feel like they hardly go through any food, though they seem content. (They also eat grit and are pretty good drinkers.) Anyway, I was looking on the site for edible plants, to try to please them, and found basil and marigolds, which I have in my (organic) garden, so I tore them up into what I thought were little pieces for them. When I was tearing up the basil, they got very excited (which reminds me that I also don't understand how they smell things). But one just picked up a fragment of leaf in her beak and dropped it -- how small do the pieces need to be?? Will I ever actually see one of the girls swallow her food? Also -- related questions -- I have a pansy (viola etain) whose flowers are pretty dried out as its season is ending. Is this OK to give them, or does it have to be fresh viola? And are the leaves of flowering plants OK or just the flowers?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,771
36,885
1,096
southern Michigan
They should be eating flock raiser or a similar feed, with grit and then stuff on the side as treats. Offer edibles and let them tear it up and play/ eat it as they wish. Maybe basil isn't yummy to a chick? Don't worry about it. Don't give so much stuff that you unbalance their main diet, either. Mary
 

Ballerina Bird

Songster
5 Years
Aug 29, 2014
825
165
226
They are eating Scratch and Peck Grower, which my breeder recommended and people seem to like. That is a good point about not unbalancing their diet -- I will try to keep that in mind. Thanks.
 

Ballerina Bird

Songster
5 Years
Aug 29, 2014
825
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Thanks; another poster commented that her chickens love basil so I thought I'd try it (I don't give them anything extra unless I check first online that it's safe). I also read that they like kale, so I tried that later and it was a hit. That episode demonstrated that if they like something, they will tear it into small enough pieces themselves!:)
 

Cacique500

Songster
6 Years
Jun 2, 2013
441
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181
Atlanta, Georgia
Ours go crazy for just about anything "green" from the garden. Kale, mustard greens, collards, cabbage, etc. For a fun time, hang a head of cabbage and watch them go at it...for hours. We take a small eye screw, screw it into the stem of the cabbage, and hang it with paracord. 5 of them will go through a huge head in about a day. We only do this maybe once a month so we don't screw up the diet too much.

On the other part of your question, when we give them any kind of treat I try to cut it up as small as possible. I'm sure they can handle much larger pieces, but I just feel better about them eating the smaller pieces. Grapes and tomatoes we give them whole, since they're soft enough to shake/tear apart.
 
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Ballerina Bird

Songster
5 Years
Aug 29, 2014
825
165
226
Thanks! What a cute idea. And many thanks for the helpful specifics about cutting the food up -- much appreciated.
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
216
216
SE Pa.
I never cut up their food other then big things like pumpkins that I want to dole out over time. I figure they have all the time in the world to work the food themselves. Trust them, they know how big the pieces need to be.
 

Ballerina Bird

Songster
5 Years
Aug 29, 2014
825
165
226
Thank you! I keep being surprised when they don't act like cats.
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So it helps to have this reassurance.
 

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