My chickens aren't eating

lemurchaser

Songster
11 Years
Apr 11, 2008
938
12
151
Corvallis, OR
A little history. I have a group of 5 laying pullets (4-6 months old). They have been free ranging in my fenced back yard since they were 2 months old (cooped at night). For reasons I won't go into, I am now keeping them confined more (they have a 10'x10' fully enclosed and covered run).

I've noticed that they haven't been eating their pellets at all. There is a 3 lb feeder in there that is still full from 10 days ago. I've been letting them out every other day for a few hours to free range (and they stuff their crops), and been giving them scraps (salad, grapes, tomatoes, slice of bread here and there) and scratch (1-2 cups a day) and they eat all that greedily. I just don't feel like the extras are enough to live off of. They are CONSTANTLY fussing in their pen, and acting like they are hungry. If I don't give them scratch then they throw a fit and make a ton of noise. I'm worried my neighbors are going to complain. This has been going on for 3 weeks.

They aren't molting, otherwise look and act healthy, good healthy poops. I'm not really worried about them, but I guess am looking for tips on how to help free range birds adjust to confinement.
 

warren

Songster
12 Years
Sep 29, 2007
320
2
139
UK
I mix a little boiling water with the pellets to make a sort of porridge, let it cool a little, and they love it.
Also, sometimes I mix fromage frais with the pellets. Just enough to make them sticky. They love that too.
I think that they find the pellets a little insipid and if they have access to treats they will eat them instead. It's only natural.
 

Renee

Songster
11 Years
May 7, 2008
1,048
9
169
CALIFORNIA
I know! It's like getting a little kid to eat broccoli! My chickens prefer EVERYTHING, including sticks, to layer pellets. I had to ask the little girls next door to stop throwing scratch over the fence and I stopped giving them any treats at all. (Well, I give them a tiny amount of vegetable a few times a week, and they have some access to grass.)

Now they eat the pellets, but they don't like it. That stuff must really taste bad. The other problem is that it only comes in 20lb sacks, and four chickens can't eat that much of it in a reasonable period of time, so I wonder if it gets stale.
 

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