My chickens don't read the chicken book!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ktribe808, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Ktribe808

    Ktribe808 Chirping

    Jan 2, 2015
    This is my first time with chickens and I am loving it! I only wish I had more chickens!

    I am doing my best to raise them to be happy and healthy. All summer and fall I gathered dandelion greens, plantain, and sunflower sprouts from under the feeders and they loved them. They adored the strawberries from my garden and they loved the spinach too!

    But now it's winter and I am forced to be more creative. The mystical chicken book tells me chickens love a head of cabbage hung up for their pecking pleasure. My girls say "WTH is this crap in our coop?" and avoid it like the plague. Apples? Oh hell no - I tried whole ones and cut up ones and I finally had to remove them before they started getting nasty. Pumpkins? Again, that's a big no way. Squash? Don't make me laugh!

    I got them a nice big forage block for Christmas.
    The chickens? "Meh!

    Now to be fair, they DO like sunflower seeds and they adore mealyworms! Oh yes, they do adore the mealyworms. In fact they would like me to either get a second job to buy more, much much more. Either that or quit my job and become a professional mealyworm rancher.

    And that pecking ball that dispenses seeds for avoiding winter boredom? Another "Meh!".

    Sure wish they would start reading the chicken book! *sigh*

  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Free Ranging

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    I give my girls whatever greens and other vegs start goin south, That cabbage will start loooookin mity fine to your girls after you stop giving them those expensive meal worms. Give them scratch, or wild bird seed. scratch is a poorer version with more corn and less choice seeds. Just think like a child, If mom keeps giving you ice cream, are you really going to say, "mom, I want vegetables" . If you are in cold climate then make sure there is enough food for the chicks to generate heat calories. As to green treats, I say, set it and forget it. They will eventually pick that stuff clean.
  3. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Songster

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    Mine love cabbage, but they don't care for apples. In fact, apples are the one thing they'll leave in their bowl. Big hits are kale, fennel, and tomatoes.
  4. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chirping

    Aug 1, 2014
    Mountains of WNC
    Ours love to play tetherball with a cabbage hung from the top of the run. They also like mealworms and black soldier fly larvae. Those are very special treats.

  5. WthrLady

    WthrLady Songster

    Jul 24, 2014
    WestOak, Nebraska
    And mine dont care for sunflower seeds or mealworms.

    They are as picky as children
  6. AngryRooster

    AngryRooster In the Brooder

    Jan 29, 2012
    Got to admit, my hens don't like apples too much either.

    Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that chickens generally like the fresh foods. Really, anything that's green or has seeds. I used to have a small lawn but...they ate it. When it comes to treats, it's best to give them something green and fresh, not a block that's stuck together (Though I have to say, scratch isn't all that fresh either. It's dried). Anyways, it was kind of a hit-and-miss thing with me. Just fed them all the treats in the book, and more, and discovered for myself what my flock loved and absolutely detested. Best of luck to you!
  7. WthrLady

    WthrLady Songster

    Jul 24, 2014
    WestOak, Nebraska
    Tempted to buy a container of bait worms from the shop. THAT would be a party.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015

  8. shorttimer

    shorttimer Chirping

    Aug 25, 2014
    Morro Bay, Ca
    A very short party. I took a tub of mealworms over to a friends, that doesn't give their chickens (6) many treats. They pounced on them and were gone in about 30 seconds! They kept looking around like there was going to be more. I felt good & bad at the same time. I told them I would show them how easy it is to have their own mini mealworm farm.
  9. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Songster

    Mar 25, 2014
    Adkins Texas
    If the chickens like sunflower seeds and you have plenty on hand then I'd recommend sprouting some. Our hens like BOSS so much they pick them out of the feed before eating anything else, well not anything else.... they'll inhale every BSF larvae I drop and then yell at me for more. We sprouted some BOSS this past week and when I put them out by the pond yesterday we had 13 chickens and 1 duck standing shoulder-to-shoulder eating them up. I've got a second container sprouted and a third awaiting the second day of rinsing so that I can give them green treats throughout the winter.

  10. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You can hang, like you do cabbage, lots of stuff. Apples become more amusing when an eye screw is screwed into it and hung than just sitting in the run on ground. Same with jumbo carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc. At first they may be ignored, so take a bite out of it, spit it onto the ground for them to discover, and they'll quickly get with the program.

    I grow my own carrots, harvest them and store them in sand over winter. I run them through a food grater and the chickens inhale them. The jumbo ones get hung for prolonged amusement.

    Raw squash is another winner, but they upend it and can't get to the good part. So I've devised squash holders, small bits of board with half-inch deck screws to impale the squash on. Mine are working on an acorn squash today.

    In season, Swiss chard is a huge favorite. If I chop up the stem in bite-size chunks, they will eat the entire stalk.

    With chickens, they need a breaking in period where they get used to something new. But given time, they all come around.

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