I expanded their run, they stopped eating feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jmtcmkb, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. jmtcmkb

    jmtcmkb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Do you think this is just because they are enjoying the much larger area to roam dig, scratch, and eat grass? I have a covered enclosed run, and we decided to enlarge the space where they can roam. Its not evening predator safe, just for daytime, and they LOVE it. Problem is, they no longer are eating their layer pellets. I have 2 waterers and 2 feeders so they have plenty of access, they just dont care, they spend the day scratching and digging. I do bring them a treat once a day usually fuit or vegetable scraps, which they devour and sometimes eat feverishly. Do you think they will eat the pellets if they really need them? we are still getting 4-5 eggs a day from the 5 of them.
  2. therifleman

    therifleman Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 22, 2008
    western nc
    Good day,
    I am not a chicken expert. But in my expeirence if chickens can get to natural feeds, bugs, grass, clover and what have you they will not eat near as much feed. Seems normal. In time the bugs and grass will disappear, unless your lot is really huge and they eat the feed they need.
    I would not worry about it.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Don't worry about it. One of the big advantages of them foraging for their own food is that your feed bill goes down. They'll soon eat the quality forage in an enclosed run and go back to depending more on the feed.

    A couple of things to watch for. If your egg shells start to get thin, that means they are not getting enough calcium in their forage. There is calcium in forage. Wild birds get enough calcium to make their egg shells, even those that eat mostly grain. Chickens have foraged for their food in free range situations for thousands of years and done fine without any supplemental feeding, but that depends on the quality of their forage. Sometimes they do need supplements. Each if us have different situations. Your Layer has enough calcium in it for the egg shells if Layer is all they eat, but if they are eating a lot of forage, they may not be getting enough calcium. You might want to offer oyster shell on the side as a preventative. And if you notice the egg shells getting thin, I'd certainly offer oyster shell or some other calcium source.

    Another thing you might see is that the eggs get a bit smaller. If the amount of protein they are getting in the forage drops, the eggs can get smaller. The amount of protein they eat helps determine egg size. To me, that is not a big deal. I can live with the eggs being a bit smaller if my feed bill is less. You can counter that a bit by offering high protein treats, but I'd not overdo it to try to get really large eggs. If a hen tries to lay really large eggs she is a little more likely to have medical problems. Not that each and every one will, just that they are a litlle more likely.

    I personally consider your situation a good thing, but since they are in an enclosed run, it is only temporary. They will soon eat the quality forage.

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