just seeking advice again.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by foleysfowl, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. foleysfowl

    foleysfowl New Egg

    Dec 12, 2009
    at the minate its christmas day and not only is it a sheet of ice outside but its raining too!! weirdest weather ive ever seen
    what i'm posting about is to check that im feeding my 3 hens enough and the right stuff.
    they are free range for the morning to about 3pm when they have to be put back to there coop due to the dogs been let out
    at the minate in only feeding then in the evening at this time they are geting a mug of layers pellets at 15% pt and dont always finish it.
    would i have to increase this to twice a day or with the free range would they be ok.
    there young birds bout 25 to 30 weeks in guessing and apear to be molting.

    thanks guys

  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    That depends on how many bugs they are able to find. When they are not laying, they don't need the high calcium content in the layer feed, so if all are not laying, you would do better to feed a whole flock feed which is usually higher in protein - 18 to 20% and lower in calcium. You can leave some layer in there too if you have a mix of layers and non layers.

    If your birds are finding lots of bugs, then they are already upping their protein on their own and ignoring the layer because they don't need or want the calcium. If this is the case, you are probably fine (and quite lucky - no bugs here in winter unless they could dig through the snow).
  3. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Hello and Merry Christmas Ian!

    The usual recommended feeding for chickens is to have food available free-choice. In other words, always.
    I keep my 4 feeders full all the time and they eat what the need. When they free range a lot they don't eat as much processed food.
  4. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2009
    Merry Christmas, Ian, some thoughts.

    Fifteen percent is not an awfully high amount of protein and if the mug you're talking about is a coffee or tea mug, that's not much for three standard birds. They might be leaving it because once their crops are full, they won't eat anymore. But that crop empties into the stomach providing fuel for the bird. If there's a sheet of ice and rain, chances are your chickens won't be able to find enough bugs and nutrients free ranging to give them what they need.

    There's a school of thought, one that I follow, that the protein should be increased to at least 20% in the winter to help offset the lack of bugs and things. Even layer feed here in the U.S. has 18% protein, more than the 15% you have been feeding. Remember that chickens don't eat when it's dark and since you're in Ireland, your days are even shorter than mine in Colorado this time of year. Right now I have about eight hours of light.

    Chickens don't overeat so it's really best to let them free feed on their food. I have six birds and buy a 50 lb bag of crumbles every two months for them. I usually have to take about five pounds of it to the park for the birds there because they don't even finish that. They have food out for them all the time, a mix of 20% protein and I'll supplement with bits of ground beef or an egg for a protein boost once or twice per week. They're healthy and are laying eggs about every other day. It can't hurt to leave oyster shell and grit out for them as well. It's not expensive and it's good to have it available for them. They'll regulate themselves.

    At approximately 20 weeks, my chicks underwent a "soft" moult; in which they lost their baby feathers and grew in some adult ones. It wasn't an actual moult in which birds replace all their feathers and have bald spots. Know that during this time they need even more protein because growing in more feathers requires it.

    Feather loss can also be attributed to mites and/or lice so it might be a good idea to check them. At night, when they are roosting, take a torch and shine it on their little bottoms, around the vent. You'll see black spots moving around if they have mites or lice. If they do there's poultry dust available. You'll need to do the birds, the house and dark corners of the run. Then repeat in a few days because it won't get the eggs that will hatch in the meantime.

    Good luck and, once again, Happy Holidays from the U.S.
  5. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    If they don't finish it up, they are getting plenty.
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee

    The higher protein is better in wintertime. It will help them to re-grow their feathers. They have to do that before egg production can resume anyway. [​IMG]

    Welcome to BYC. You are first post from Ireland that I have seen. We have gotten a few from N Zealand and Australia. We get more yet from Canada and even have two regulars from Nova Scotia.[​IMG]
  7. ginasmarans

    ginasmarans Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    West Tn
    My layer feed is 16%, so in the Winter I mix it with game bird breeder to up it to about 18%.I feed mine once/day and they are fine. They should eat about 4 oz of feed/day. I don't measure mine, I just judge it by what they have left. If they are leaving alot,I cut down on the amount. If they jump me when I feed them and have eaten every crumb,I feed a little more. Sounds like you are doing pretty good.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  8. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    [​IMG] From Alaska

    up the protein ....and enjoy
  9. foleysfowl

    foleysfowl New Egg

    Dec 12, 2009
    thanks for the advice guys.
    what ill do is get some other meal to mix, to up the pt %.

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