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Limit on greens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by crazy hen quartet, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. crazy hen quartet

    crazy hen quartet Songster

    Dec 20, 2008
    Chandler AZ
    Hi all..
    I have been lurking for months and have found every answer I ever needed till now... Altho with so many members and posts I'm sure this question (and answers) have come up before!

    My girls LOVE fresh greens and I often give them drop off from my garden but that isn't much... and I would rather be eating what I grow than feeding it to them. I decided to ask the Frys' (Kroger) nearby for extra greens they might be getting rid of. Well, they gave me 26 heads of various lettuces that were headed out!!

    I am wondering how much lettuce I can give my 4 hens per day without overdoing it? Is there a "bad" limit here? I give them scratch first thing in the am and right before bed, and make sure they get a big dish of layer mash before I give them any lettuce as I don't want to affect their nutrient intake negatively. they also have pellets out all day and they do eat some of that. Right now I am feeding them two heads a day but I swear they would eat more! I'm just afraid to over-do it.

    One other quick question.. same for cucumbers. I worry about the lack of nutrients and large quantity of water in those, but sometimes I have quite a few to get rid of.

    Any advice?

  2. I think they will eat until they are full, then quit. Although mine love the greens and go after them, I couldn't say that they "stuff" themselves.
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I think the only way to get quickly into trouble would be not offering other feed along with the greens. There's a lot of Winter COLD out there. If something higher in calories is available, I don't think chickens would load up on too many low-calorie greens.

    A hen needs well over 300 calories each day in cold weather. If she can eat an entire pound of lettuce, she would still have considerably less than 100 calories.

    This isn't the time of year for her to be dieting [​IMG].

    You would also be diluting the protein and other nutrient content of her diet so things could get unbalanced in that way, also.

  4. crazy hen quartet

    crazy hen quartet Songster

    Dec 20, 2008
    Chandler AZ
    Yeah, I am worried about the nutrient/calorie/protien issue... so I will keep the lettuce intake limited. I just read a thread on dangling cabbage, I will try that to keep them entertained longer with less lettuce!

    We are in south/central AZ, our day times are 60s and nights 40s and occasionally 30s. I only feed the lettuce in the mid am and make sure to throw them scratch with cracked corn before bedtime to keep them warm.

    Thank goodness for this forum, over the summer I was treating them to scratch when it was in the 100s.. until I read up and realized what BAD NEWS that was! I actually started pulling their feed after 10 am and gave it back after 4pm to keep them from overheating. Oh, and ice in the waterer!

    Thanks for the help [​IMG]
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Please research what Lazy J and others have had to say before you deprive your chickens of "the joy of scratch". Search with "heat" and "corn". With my science background, I knew this did not sound right from the moment I read it. They should have some feed available at all times.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  6. Rufflemyfeathers

    Rufflemyfeathers Songster

    Nov 20, 2008
    Astatula Florida
    How old do chicks need to be to be able to eat greens and such??
  7. Namaste Mama

    Namaste Mama Songster

    Sep 18, 2008
    I gave my chicks finely chipped broccoli on day 2 and they love it. [​IMG]

  8. I wouldn't limit greens ever! A bird (animal) knows instinctively what it needs. It's not like your hens wake up in the morning and after looking in the mirror one thinks to themselves... "Oh Edith you're looking a bit porky today, better go easy on the food." We are the only idiots that eat junk food and then have to diet, and look how well that's working [​IMG] No, give what you think they will eat and you could test it by putting down 1 head per girl and then seeing how much is left. I find mine eat their fill and then go away looking for something else and come back to it later. You could do inventive things like hang the lettuce in a net bag but that's purely for their entertainment (it's called animal enrichment) if you wanted to, but in my opinion chooks are constructive, faithful creatures who go about foraging in order to get what they need to eat in order to lay that egg. So why would they want entertainment unless they are just standing around all day (which they aren't).
    On cold days you could feed a hot grain; a hen can either keep warm or lay an egg but she can't do both unless you help her with hot food.
    Anyway, that's my three cents worth [​IMG]
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Thing is, some peoples' chickens ARE just standing around all day, and WILL gorge on a novel or better-tasting food to the neglect of more nutritionally well rounded commercial feed. Also it depends on what alternatives they have... *only* feeding greens, as I've heard some people doing, is certainly not a good idea.

    So I think it's a bit dangerous to say it's fine to feed unlimited amounts of greens without knowing a particular person's setup, you know?

  10. crazy hen quartet

    crazy hen quartet Songster

    Dec 20, 2008
    Chandler AZ
    Well I have decided to limit it to 1-2 heads a day, and only after breakfast. The girls get a nice dish of their layer pellets wetted down (over half of the 4 oz each they are supposed to get for the day) that they gobble up, then I hang a head and let them go after it pinata style.. that way a head lasts a couple of hours instead of 10 minutes!

    they also have dishes of layer pellet out all day that they pick at, and we occasionally throw in a handful of scratch.. and if they are really lucky a handful of soldier fly larva that my husband digs out of the compost when he turns it.

    I can't wait till my dichondra takes root so I can let them free range the yard again, I feel bad for them being penned up even tho it is almost 200 sq ft for just the four of them and I know that is plenty. I just imagine it must be boring. Hooray for pinata lettuce! [​IMG]

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