If chickens are omnivores, why is every chicken feed totally vegetarian?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Scotty from BI, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ever hear the old saying, "the early bird gets the worm." I feed Modesto Mills soy/corn free layer pellets because I believe it is the best I have found, but everything I read says that chickens need animal protien such as bugs to have a complete diet. So why do animal feed manufacturers only make grain and vegetable based feeds? I am throwing dehydrated grubs and mealworms occasionally, but I'm not sure if dehydrated bugs are good for them on a regular basis. It just seems so unnatural. Also how often should I be doing this and is there a better source of animal protien I can offer them? It seems to be balanced it should be daily,

    It occurs to me that most birds in nature are also omnivores that eat bugs and some are strictly carnivores such as raptures and eagles. But they are still birds with similar digestive systems.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Plant based feed formulations cheaper as a general rule. Another reason is that a larger portion of market wants plant based diets. It is easy to find folks that want to keep chickens fed "vegetarian" diets but I have never seen a person interested in all meat diets.


    Fish meal is what I would mix into a wetted feed at a rate of about 5%. Check to make certain you agree with egg flavor if you do.

    When I want natural animal protein free-range has been the default approach. We used to use trash fish from the river but that is not practical now.
     
  3. Scotty from BI

    Scotty from BI Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, free range is not an option where I live. While there is a strong movement for people to eat vegetarian, (mostly in big cities, not country folk), ultimately they need animal based protien. Vegetable sources of protien don't contain all the amino acids and DHA form of Omega 3 that we need. But we force feed our non-free range chickens to become vegetarians despite thier natural inclination to eat meat, (bugs, mice, fish, etc.)
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    They can get by OK on plant based feeds that are properly formulated. My birds are not as into the plant based only as those I can add animal meal to. Also, commercial birds are not expected to live as long as non-commercial birds and I doubt what are now formulated for all have been evaluated for long term use.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    You can also "cheat" and give them hard boiled eggs. I do that, and it's a good protein source for them. I just crush 'em up good, shells and all, and toss them in there. Mine also love suet cages...you know those little metal cages with suet for wild birds? In winter I fill them with home made suet (beef fat, lard, a little cornmeal and oatmeal/dried fruit mixture) and in summer when they are catching bugs and whatever else in abundance, I cram the cages with watermelon, apples - whatever I can, sometimes frozen, sometimes not. The cages of treats make great boredom busters in the winter with an extra protein/fat boost, and in the summer frozen veggies and fruits in the cages help them cool down. I just clip them to the side of the run and let 'em have at it. Cat food (not a lot, just some) and tuna are also good protein additives, but as @centrarchid has said, make sure you are okay with the eggs.

    Treats are best in moderation, but anything animal based you can add to their diet is a plus. I'm with you - I wish they'd focus more on a well rounded diet for our chickens rather than catering to what the masses demand. Not going to happen, I'm afraid. And feeds with a meat base don't "shelve" as well as plant based...they tend to go rancid a little faster, at least that's what my buddy over at the feed store told me. With dog and cat foods that's not a big problem with the quick turnover, but we are dealing with millions of households having dogs and cats and buying food up faster than those relatively few of us with backyard chickens buy feed. If you've ever opened a bag of rancid dog food, you know what I'm talking about! YUCK! The smell will knock you off your feet and send you scurrying back to the store with the bag and your receipt!
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Something that predates my time is to use offal from your local butcher. Birds will pick meat off bone that is hard to cut off. Marrow also goes over well. Be careful as is can attract some bad dudes that might go after chickens.
     
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    If you have or start a compost bin or compost pile of some description, the occasional shovel full of composted dirt thrown in the run should have some bugs and grubs in it.

    My gals love their bug dispenser and come running as soon as the lower doors come off [​IMG]
     
  8. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    if you want to see something funny, next time you have a ham bone, hang it up just for the day in the enclosed poultry yard. They will go nuts to strip the bone of meat. Take down at end of day so predators don't come courting the bone.
    Best,
    Karen
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Good point! Lots of folks who butcher their birds at home give what they clean from the carcasses to their chickens with no ill effects whatsoever. Same with trimming and bones from butchering larger animals, including deer if a hunter has been lucky.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    If you ferment your feed, that will help them to more readily absorb all of the nutrients in the feed, giving them a healthier gut, and cutting your feed bill. If your run is void of vegetation convert it to deep litter if you have not allready done so. that will attract beneficial insects as well as giving them beneficial bacteria and fungi, to further improve their nutrition. The whole vegetarian feed thing is foolishness, most likely guided by the vegetarian human movement.
     

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