I think I have freeloaders... suggestions??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by robren, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. robren

    robren Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2011
    Hi folks
    I just went thru a 50# bag of pellets in less than 2 weeks.... I have 11 hens and normally a bag will last about a month. I have a hanging feeder in the coop all the time and suspect someone is coming in for a free lunch. I haven't seen any squirrels and I don't think I would see mice (could mice eat that much???). I think the only thing I can do is feed in the am before work (the light comes on at 5am) and pull the feeder in when I leave for work. I know they don't like changes... is this going to disrupt the egg output??? Any other suggestions

  2. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    You don't say where you are, but feed costs always go up in the winter and it has been chilly.
  3. robren

    robren Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2011
    I'm in NH and just went thru an extremely cold week at the end of January (16 -20 below zero overnight). All seemed "normal" during that week. It has been in about the last 8-10 days following that cold snap that we've gone thru that amount of food. Could it be a delayed reaction?? They seemed to get thru that cold week OK.
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Feeding them only once a day will decrease their calorie intake at a time when the cold weather increases their calorie consumption. It will disrupt egg production as they need to use more calories for keeping warm. If you suspect mice or other nocternal varmints, maybe removing the feeder at night and putting it back out for the day would be a better idea. My chickens consider mice no more than big bugs, and eat them accordingly, so they would only survive a food raid if they came in after dark. Sometimes wild birds will figure out how to get into a coop and help themselves too.

    Are you using pelleted or crumble feed? Some birds waste a lot of crumble by billing it out. A suspended feeder at the height of the bird's backs makes if harder to waste feed, and may keep some intruders out of the feed.
  5. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    50 lbs. for 11 chickens is about right especially in winter, unless you are feeding them a lot of other stuff. They should be eating 3-4 lbs. a day.
  6. robren

    robren Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2011
    Thanks for the comments

    I think I'll give it another few days before removing feed at night. They DO get some extras during the day, but I am filling what is labeled a "12 pound" feeder to the top every other day with pellets. I'm going to pay strict attention to dates and amounts,rather than try to guess.

    You think it could be birds??? Huummmm
  7. mrsc1951

    mrsc1951 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2011
    Largo, Florida
    Could be other birds but the culprits at my house are squirrels. I even caught one stealing a bantam egg! That was about the time I got a pellet gun and started shooting them. Now, if I'm not quick enough to pick up the dead squirrel, my girls make a snack out of it.
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    For 14 days, I come up with .324 lbs/hen/day, or in my terms, 32.4 lbs per hundred birds. That's about right for larger sized hens in cold weather. I have a number (thousands) of five-pound brown layers in a hen house that is environmentally controlled to 60 F and they are eating 30 lbs per hundred while in peak production.

    I'd have been more concerned about that bag normally lasting a month. The only way that was happening is if they were young pullets that weren't producing yet or they were previously heavily supplementing their intake by foraging, or "snacks" that you may have been giving them.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  9. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Could always put a deer cam in the coop at night to see if you have visitors....
  10. robren

    robren Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2011
    UPDATE --- I have identified the culprit..... It is a (very wide) red squirrel. He is so well fed, as he ran away he was sinking in the snow. Not sure what to do, I'm going thru 50# of pellets in about 10 days. I was mixing in BOSS with the pellets. He seems to be scooping out the pellets into the bedding to get at the sunflower seeds. I will be discontinuing the BOSS for the time being. The girls seem to avoid the squirrel because I've also noticed they run into the coop for a drink when I opened the big door to check on things, the waterer hasn't been used much since this began. Any suggestions on "eliminating" this issue???

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