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If you just feed hens grain and no layers is it bad for them or do they just lay less?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Sire12, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Sire12

    Sire12 Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't really keep mine for eggs mainly as pets so if I just feed them their fermented mixed grain would they still be healthy and just lay less often? Or is it actually bad for an adult hen to not get layers pellets, mine range all day in the yard and get the occasional protein treats like live mealworms and cheese strings aswell as their layers pellets as their source of protein but if I cut out the layers they will still have those treats
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Chickens are omnivores, not exclusively seed eaters. So yes, it could be bad for them.
    Grain, dependent on which one, is about 10% protein. 16% is necessary for body maintenance and egg laying.
    But more importantly, with grains, there are at least 2 limiting amino acids they won't be getting.
    There will be several vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are likely to emerge over time.

    If protein is low, they won't ovulate as much. It doesn't matter if you keep them for eggs or not. If they aren't laying eggs up to their potential, that means they are nutritionally deprived.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  3. Sire12

    Sire12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ah ok, how much layers would they need per bird then to keep them healthy, they're getting different treats I usually have a steady supply of live mealworms
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    That's hard for me to judge and they don't necessarily need layer feed, they just need a source of calcium and they could get a starter/grower or all flock type feed. But they should be getting a feed formulated for chickens. Otherwise, you'd have to be a poultry nutritionist to insure they're getting what they need.

    The thing about chicken feed is that it is formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of the age chicken it was intended to feed. When one starts throwing treats into the mix, there's no way to determine what vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids they're getting and in what ratios.

    A lot of people do what you are suggesting but if they are pets, I would think you would want them to get optimal nutrition to keep them healthy for as long as possible.

    One of our feed manufacturers are now exploring making a feed explicitly for aged hens. The nutritionist told me that it would have enhanced levels of vitamins and minerals that are not as well absorbed as a bird ages.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Simply buy a bag of feed and give it free choice. If I only had 2 birds, I'd buy a small bag, not 50# at a time. Old feed is stale feed, and the oils in it get rancid, the vitamins break down. An adult chicken will eat about .25# of feed/day. You can ferment their layer feed.
     
  6. snow5164

    snow5164 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello,
    The bag should tell you how much to feed, no?
    Feeding a chicken meal worms and grains , is like feeding a child French fries and doughnuts. Sure they will live but they are very unhealthy and won't grow or thrive like they could.

    Can you give your hens real chicken food and not the worms and treats? It's good to get them to eat their food because all the vitamins and protein is in it and you don't have to worry about adding anything.

    Good luck ,
    Remember that a chicken can look healthy and fall over and die the next day , you have to make the inside healthy, feathers might cover up a very skinny or unhealthy body.
     
  7. snow5164

    snow5164 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can't stop
    Them from laying, so you need to give them the food that will help their bodies recover from " giving birth !"
     
  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whilst I don't strictly adhere to the idea that they need a balanced chicken feed if they free range and you are not wanting to optimise egg production, you do have to be much more thoughtful about their diet if you are not feeding one.
    Providing that they have good foraging conditions, particularly for bugs but also vegetation (remember both of these are reduced in winter) and you feed them higher protein pulses as well as some grains and meat scraps, meal worms etc, you should be able to keep them healthy.

    My experience from butchering poor producing hens fed on 50% grans and layer pellets was that they were very fat... obese in fact....shockingly so and the fat was probably responsible for the lack of production as well as health issues. Organs on some were encased in fat deposits, so I would be wary about feeding them purely grains on that basis. The vitamins and minerals they should be able to find themselves by ranging but it depends on how big an area they have to forage....layer pellets are primarily formulated for birds that never see the light of day and therefore need artificial supplements in them to meet their dietary needs.
    The advantage of feeding a preparatory feed is that it takes the thinking and worry out of ensuring they have a balanced diet. We all know they love soaked grains but as with all of us, it's not a good idea to eat too much of what you love.
     
  9. peeper89

    peeper89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wha's wrong with buying a bag of feed at store? It has all u need, so then u don't have ot worry.
     
  10. Sire12

    Sire12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the info everyone, I didn't realize layers pellets also had essential vitamins and minerals in it, il carry on feeding it to them then, also I didn't know mealworms were actually bad for them 0.o I thought since they were packed with protein itd be good :/ they always seem to eat their grain first before going for the pellets so myb il feed the pellets first thing in the morning when they are at their hungriest then grain layer in the day
     

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