Leaving pellet on the ground to force them to eat it

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by poplarbird, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. poplarbird

    poplarbird Just Hatched

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    it's been more than a week since we switched from layer crumble to pellet, first we mixed the pellet in crumble at a ratio of 2:8. They kept scratching the pellet out of the feeder and left a mess in the ground.We buried the pellet with loose dirt, and hoped they will eventually start to eat it off the ground as well. But nothing happened.

    3 days ago, we stopped treats - usually sweet corn, strawberry, grass etc in the late afternoon.

    Starting from yesterday we removed feeder from the coop and left them only water and pellet on the ground (there are a lot lot on the ground everywhere). They foraged but they still were not eating any. Almost empty stomach when they went to bed last night. We are continuing this method today.

    Am I doing the right thing? Is there any suggestions?

    They are only 6 months old and have been laying for nearly 2 months.
     
  2. Rickovo

    Rickovo Out Of The Brooder

    I’ve never gone in for cartridge style hopper feeders that should be pretty much scatter proof (probably a good idea!)
    Still, however, feeding my flock in bowls and doing that its a bit of a balance to get them to polish off the overspill but, on the whole, they will tidy up if the bowls run out.
    It's often difficult to know how much the girls are eating just by watching them. My blacktail is a piggy and always seems to be at the bowl chuffing it down but others that are less obvious still have full crops when I check.
    And that is really the measure of if they are eating - is there anything in their crop at (literally) the end of the day! (when out of lay they don’t eat as much though.)
    I think its good from time to time to let them run out and have to scratch around. It might not be the best way to secure max egg production but for longevity a little bit of want is not a bad thing.
    There are limits! If its been on the ground for more than a couple of days (this depends on climate - I’m in England, UK) then it may go mouldy and needs sweeping up. At the same time its funny how, when worming and there’s only pellets, and they are moaning like hell and refusing to eat, after a couple of days the pellets disappear sure enough!
     
  3. Rickovo

    Rickovo Out Of The Brooder

    On reading through again - a way of transitioning from crumble to pellets is to feed them in bowls (a mat is good to make it easy to tidy up) and add a bit of warm water to pellets to break them up a bit. If you slowly add less water then the pellets will be more hole and drier until your feeding whole dry pellets.
    Some pellets are smaller than others and may be easier, especially if you have smaller chooks.
     
  4. poplarbird

    poplarbird Just Hatched

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    I am in Sydney Australia.
    I might try your method if they still not eating it by tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Forcing chickens to eat feed that has been moldering on the ground for days is inviting problems caused by contamination by mold and rodent droppings and even wild bird droppings. The least that could happen would be parasites getting into your chickens' intestines. Worst case scenario would be Marek's or Avian Flu.

    If you want to eliminate waste and improve the nourishment your chickens are getting, look into fermenting your feed. I feed my chickens out of dog bowls elevated on homemade wooden frames to keep dirt and sand and other contaminants from getting into the food. There is absolutely zero waste. You will save tons on the feed bill.
     
  6. poplarbird

    poplarbird Just Hatched

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    Understand the risk.

    We just simply can't get them to eat pellet!

    They would eat stuff they dug out from the ground anyway before we started the feed transition. This week has been tough for the chicken and us.
     
  7. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Pellets are great, in theory but what it acts to do is to reduce the amount of time spent feeding. Pecking / foraging is normal behaviour - indeed an innate behaviour and the longer that they spend doing this, the more contented they will be, as the need to perform the behaviour is satiated. Personally, I'd blitz the pellets and continue with crumbles, once the pellets are gone.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Rickovo

    Rickovo Out Of The Brooder

    I do that too having heard about how game bird keepers put feed out on low tables to keep it and the overspill off the floor. They use tablecloths that go into the wash but I've found that rubber car mats are washable and do the same job.
     
  9. poplarbird

    poplarbird Just Hatched

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    We cleaned up the pellet scattering on the ground on Sunday morning, and started with your method. We also put the pellet in a much deeper container temperately made to track the progress. They seems started to eat some damp ones, and there is almost none on the ground.

    The 7 month old Wyndotte is broody since Friday around the same time we restricted their feed to just pellet. She still laid eggs last 3 days, but rest of the time she stayed in the laying box with no egg in it. we got her out, and put her on the roost, she stayed for a while and returned to the laying box. We closed the laying box after all 3 had laid, and she sat on the dust bath spot with her tail high. Was it the food?

    Errrr, I am proposing a cage 'broody buster' after reading advice in the forum but my husband is not keen to. :(
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Glad to hear you're making some progress. Now about broody-busting. Have your husband read this.

    Here's the "science" behind the broody busting cage method.

    A broody hen's body temperature is elevated due to the broody hormones. This all works out great for her when she's incubating eggs and later, brooding chicks. But, unless you can cool down a broody, her hormones will persist and she will remain broody. for at least tthe next three weeks, losing weight and possibly damaging her health. Many people feel it's "cruel" to incarcerate a broody in a cage. But if left to her own devices, she will find any way possible to keep her hormones going, including finding secret spots to dig herself in, keeping her tummy nice and warm, perpetuating the hormones.

    This is why we put a broody in a cage to break her. It's to prevent her from finding places to keep warm and thus staying broody. The cage with the open mesh bottom sans all bedding will permit air to circulate under her, cooling her body temperature. This in turn mediates the hormones in her body.

    There are other ways to hurry the process. I put the broody and her cage in the center of maximum activity to get her out of the broody mood. Broodys are driven to seek seclusion. I also place a fan to blow cool air under the broody. On warm days, I dip the broody in cool water just deep enough to wet her tummy. The evaporation helps to further cool her down, especially that overheated tummy area.

    If all goes well, she's back to normal inside of three days. The test is to turn her loose and see if she runs right to a nest or if she goes back to the flock and socializes. If she bolts for a nest box, it's back in the cage for another eight hours or even another day.

    I've had tough broodys take ten days to break, but that's rare. Most people report three days and their broody has lost all interest in nest sitting. The good news is, if you catch it early and break them, a broody will be laying again in about a week.
     

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