IME, chickens DO overeat

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Oneacre Homestead, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. Oneacre Homestead

    Oneacre Homestead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, I have been wanting to throw this out there for awhile. I have read a million times on this site that chickens don't overeat, and I have always fed my chickens free choice, mainly for my own convenience. I give them kitchen scraps too.
    Well, I have had chickens for about 8 years and i am sorry, but they will over eat. my girls have a large coop and run, but if they are not let out in the yard, they eat about twice the feed! I used to go away for 4 day stretches, so I know how much they would eat if cooped up vs when let out to forage. I know that they are finding things when they forage, but it's mainly grass, so I really doubt that they are doubling their calories in my back yard.
    the real evidence, though, is that my hens are FAT. How would a hen get fat if they will not overeat? I know this is not the meat bird thread, so I hope that this does not upset anyone, but I butcher a few of my hens a year, and they have way to much fat. It is not stored in the muscle much, so it is alarming. I have butchered meat birds and truly free- rangers, and they do not have this alarming amount of fat, in fact, they have almost none.
    I have been wanting to cut down on my feed bill, and not feed local rodents, so I am going to go to once a day feeding, about 3 or 4 oz per hen per day, in a trough so even the "wimpy" girls get to eat.
     
  2. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi Oneacre,

    If you try to put birds on a diet, you'll very likely see a drop in egg production, I'm sorry to say. The fat isn't so much from eating too much as from the type of feed (high carbohydrate, commercial mix presumably). Commercial feed also has an artificial amino acid that can lead to excess fattiness.

    If the birds are leaving some food uneaten, by all means reduce the amount you put out, but I wouldn't put it below the point where crops aren't full at night time -- it's easy to check their crops when on a roost. It's lovely that your birds can free range and get plenty of fresh feed; that's definitely good for them (and for you via their eggs -- better fatty acid profile, for one thing).

    I get out nightly and scrape up what the birds haven't eaten so rodents don't get a free feed. I feel it's better to do this than under-feed.

    Just my thoughts, sorry to disagree with your proposal... [​IMG]

    cheers
    Erica
     
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    You didn't say what feed you were feeding and how much kitchen scraps you were feeding.

    From what you posted it sound like either the feed that your feeding is a low energy feed or you are diluting the energy of the feed with the scraps.
    Chickens eat to fill there energy needs and when that need is met they will stop eating, now if the energy need is not meet then the bird will continue to eat.

    Also keep in mind that the 3-4 ounces of feed per hen per day is fine if you have a light breed like a production (hatchery) type Leghorn.
    If you feed that little of feed to a large breed like a (non hatchery) Orpington or a Rhode Island Red and you may end up with a bunch of thin chickens that ain't laying.


    Chris
     
  4. Oneacre Homestead

    Oneacre Homestead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, Thanks Chris and Erica! I feed them commercial layer pellets, and oyster shell. Do you think it is he layer pellets themselves that make chickens fat? Do either of you mix your own feed? There are three people in our family, so they get about a salad bowl of kitchen scraps per day, but the calorie density can vary widely. I don't want to underfeed, I just don't want to be over feeding and I thought if I fed them once per day, I could give them a tiny bit less food if there was a ton of scraps that had a lot of rice or something they like. There was a sign up at the feed store that said that not feeding free choice could save food, and since they eat so much more (it seems like double) when they are trapped in their run, and at so fat, I figured they are eating from boredom.
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    I don't think the layer feed by itself will make chickens fat, but a lot depends on the brand.
    I do mix my own feed that consists of Game Bird feed, Floating Fish Pellet, and a Custom Grain Mix of mine. My grain mix has Whole Corn, Oats, Soybean Meal, Whole Roasted Soy Bean, Beet Pulp, Molasses, Trace Mineral Salt, Vitamin A-D-E mix, Magnesium Oxide, and Di-Calcium Phosphate.

    I self feed to a point, what I do is fill there feeder at 7:00 am then remove the feeders about 7:00 pm.

    Chris
     
  6. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

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    They will also eat less pellets when getting out to free range due to all the stuff they eat round your property.... Not sure about the "fat" part as we have never seen a fat hen here....
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013

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