I think I spoil my chickens, but I have a question about finicky hens.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by liz_s, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello!

    My 3 Ameraucana hens are about 5 months old. I feed them a grower diet; it's pelleted. I was having trouble with sparrows/ house finches eating the food, and put the food in their run for about 20 minutes in the morning, then would take it out. They didn't seem like they ate much, because they wanted out of the run so bad (I free-range them in my yard). I've started putting the feeder in the actual coop at night, because I know they wake up earlier than me, so they have time to eat before I go and let them out. It doesn't really seem like they eat much, despite me trying to pay attention to the volumes.

    For the past few mornings I wake up the chickens and dump their food on the ground- either in their run, or in the garden. They definitely seem to eat more that way. I also noticed that they like to eat their food more when it's wet. Are they picky? Spoiled? Would they maybe do better with a different type of food? They will be switched to layer food soon, so now would probably be a good time to switch food. I'm not really sure what crumbles are, but they sound promising.

    The girl at my feed store made the point that I need to get them into a feeding routine. They haven't started laying yet, and she said that they need to have proper nutrition before they start laying. So now I'm paranoid- are they not getting enough nutrition from their food? They eat tons of greens and veggies.

    I would love any opinions, advice on food, or stories about other picky chickens. Thanks!

    Liz
     
  2. fl_deb

    fl_deb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens definitely eat very little commercial food when allowed to free range, however I have noticed that they do seek their commercial food out several times a day and particularly right before heading to the coop for the night. And they are doing so more now that they (2 of 3) are laying. Now keep in mind mine do not eat earthworms, in fact, they run away from them daily. [​IMG] LOL So it could be they need that extra protein that their commercial food offers.

    Yes, they like wet food, however, it is dangerous to let them eat old wet food, so if it is more than 24 hrs since it got wet, I considerate it old and toss it out. I use paper plates, so I can tell if it got wet, even if I wasn't home for the rain shower. Sometimes, if it has already gotten wet, I will add cold milk to it as an afternoon treat that they love!

    I lose food to the squirrels, the giant grass hoppers (ask me how I know) and occasionally a brave blue jay. Mine do not tolerate other birds in their territory. The squirrels seem to get away with more than any wild bird.
     
  3. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Deb!

    That's funny yours don't like worms! Mine followed my boyfriend around the yard today while he was fixing sprinklers, hoping he would toss them a worm while digging around- it was hilarious!

    The only way I know they eat their food when it's wet is when I've dumped it in the garden bed, and it gets wet as I fill up their waterer. It definitely makes me uncomfortable to have wet food- mold is baaaad news! Cold milk though- that's an interesting idea!

    I was reading other posts, and it looks like they might be more likely to eat crumbles, so I'm going to give that a try.

    So much to learn!

    Thanks again,

    Liz
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    My chickens won't eat earth worms either, but thats okay the ducks are crazy about them! But meal worms now thats a whole different story my chickens jump into the air for mealworms they love them!!
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    I didn't put up with picky children when mine were young and I won't put up with picky chickens. At this point I have too many chickens to worry about finicky eaters. My feeding routine is very simple and it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

    I start them on crumbles, but when it comes time for layer feed I switch to pellets. I find much less waste with pellets.
    My chickens free range all day, from morning till dusk. I keep a feeder full in the coop at all times. I check it once or twice a day and if it looks like it's getting low, I add some. They also have water in the coop, plus several waterers outside.

    Some days I have treats in the form of leftovers from the night before, fruit that has overripened, sometimes bread or "chops" (cracked corn). I also know when their feed consumption is going to be down - in the summer and fall - when there are lots of fruits ripening on the trees and bushes. I feed treats whenever I have some and happen to remember when I'm going out to the coop.

    If their consumption of layer feed goes down too far, as in I don't have to fill the 30 lb. feeder for a week or so, then I cut out all treats and they have to rely on their layer feed and what they find foraging.

    A healthy chicken won't starve if offered appropriate food. Many many chickens are given nothing but their feed and do just fine. On the other side of the coin is the many chickens that have never seen layer feed in their lives, nothing but scratch and leftovers and they do just fine too.
     
  6. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, good news: apparently their nutrition is just fine, because we got our "first" egg today! I put it in quotes because it was the perfect size and shape, so I'm thinking the earlier ones may have disappeared somewhere... But maybe my girls are just perfect [​IMG]. Thanks for the advice everybody!

    Liz
     
  7. joeymomrn

    joeymomrn Out Of The Brooder

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    yay for the first egg! BTW, how old are your chickens? Dh and I are trying to figure out when we may have eggs from our hens. Not any time soon I know but I hear different stories.
     
  8. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls are approximately 5 months old. I've heard they lay anytime from 20 weeks to 6 months, and that it may depend on the breed! A lot of info, but mine are smack in the middle!
     
  9. BWKatz

    BWKatz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    Columbia,SC
    [​IMG] congrats on egg! [​IMG]
     
  10. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks! It's amazing- whichever one it was actually laid it IN the nest box! I was not expecting that. Such smart girls [​IMG]
     

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