Keeping them healthy

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by lablover, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    572
    9
    124
    Apr 7, 2012
    I have 4 hens, 1 rooster, and 3 pullets in my flock. Yesterday I lost one hen. She appeared to be molting (no eggs, pale comb, loss of feathers), but she went down hill pretty quickly. This made me wonder if I am feeding them all that they need. Even though I now only have 4 hens, I am only getting 2 eggs. They are around 16 months old. I have not had an egg from one hen in several months (unless I got her confused with her twin that recently died). if that was the case, it has been about a month or so...[​IMG]

    They seem healthy... They free range, and live near the barn, so they find lots of goodies. They also eat birdseed from the front yard. But I provide them with chick starter, oats for breakfast, and oyster shell. They also get treats such as fruit and bread. They even eat cat food when they beat the cats to it. Is there anything else I need to be giving them? I once saw a thread on here that listed what human food chickens could have, but I would just like to know what else I should be feeding to keep them as healthy as I can.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
  2. iheartnh

    iheartnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    303
    35
    113
    Apr 11, 2013
    Derry, NH
    Why do you have them on chick starter? If the pullets are over 16 weeks, they should be on finisher or layer. There's probably something they aren't getting from chick starter that they need, but I don't know if that would create a fatal deficit. I'm sure someone else will comment.

    Also - I think there is some debate as to whether or not cat food is OK for chickens. You may want to check your brand/ingredients because someone might inquire about that, too.
     
  3. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    572
    9
    124
    Apr 7, 2012
    I know there is a big debate over using chick starter for adult chickens, but I have been told by many members that it is okay, especially since I have a rooster and pullets that aren't laying yet. I was also told that cat food was okay, even though there is a big debate over that like you said.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
  4. iheartnh

    iheartnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    303
    35
    113
    Apr 11, 2013
    Derry, NH
    Interesting on the starter - I didn't know there was a debate on that one. Seems odd to me, like feeding an adult dog puppy kibble, but I've never really looked at the ratios on starter vs. layer chicken feed, so what do I know?

    I'll be curious to see if you get any useful feedback. Good luck!
     
  5. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    572
    9
    124
    Apr 7, 2012
    Yeah, I know. But from what I'm told, the only major difference is the calcium.
     
  6. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    572
    9
    124
    Apr 7, 2012
    Any more opinions? As far as cat food goes, they do not get much, nor do they get it very often.
     
  7. LoneOak

    LoneOak Chillin' With My Peeps

    383
    36
    91
    May 19, 2013
    West of Atlanta
    You definitely need to have your birds on laying pellets and not starter feed. You say in your post that they are 16 months old that is way to old to still be on grower, they are finished growing and are in the laying portion of their lives, it is fine for the rooster to eat layer. There are a lot more differences in starter feed and laying feee other than the calcium, one of them is the medication in starter, they don't need that further in their lives. There is no debate on using starter for adult chickens, someone that wants a healthy laying flock just doesn't do it, no debate needed. So yes there is something missing in their diet and it is laying feed. Cat food is a bad idea and most likely the reason they are eating it is because they aren't getting enough to eat foraging and eating starter feed.

    Give your birds Layer feed free choice they will eat it until they are no longer hungry and soon forget about eating the cat food which isn't even designed to be feed to chickens. It cost a whole bunch more than chicken feed too, can you get 50lb of cat food for $14, I don't think so!
     
  8. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

    4,766
    572
    281
    Aug 29, 2012
    Australia
    I believe starter is more expensive on top of everything else so one less benefit. And I like the comparison of leaving a dog on puppy food :). I have heard of people leaving them on grower as the only difference is calcium but never before anyone leaving them on starter. Starter is also a lot higher in protien I thought.

    One thing I did read about leaving them on starter longer than six weeks is that it encourages more rapid growth and so proper development could take second place to fast growth causing problems later on. Again it was just something I read but I thought it made sense at the time.

    Good luck!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  9. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    2,047
    184
    271
    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    You can definitely get starter without medication.
     
  10. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    572
    9
    124
    Apr 7, 2012
    Yes, my starter is not medicated. Again, I also had growing pullets in the flock as well. I frequently do, so what am I supposed to feed that the whole flock can eat? When I first started on this site, I asked about roosters eating layer, and was told that they did not need the extra calcium. I do not have a large flock. I only have one rooster, and I do not want him to eat the extra calcium....
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by