My chicks aren't eating as much feed??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tananaBrian, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. tananaBrian

    tananaBrian Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2011
    Hi,

    New to all of this ...we have four 5-week old chickens that we've had since they were 3 days old (two buff orpingtons, a golden comet, and a cherry egger). When just kept in the brood box that I made, they finished off as much as a quart of starter feed in a day (admittedly probably over 1/4 of that was on the floor though). Now that they are getting fairly well feathered out, I've been taking them outside and letting them hang out in a 2' by 7' chicken tractor of sorts. They stay outside from 2 to 4 hours depending on how cool or warm our Alaskan weather happens to be (50 to 70 F), and I now have them at 70+ F in the brood box where they are the rest of the time.. We've been moving the chicken tractor around and letting them eat whatever they could find... Here are my questions:

    1) They seem to be eating a LOT less feed now, sometimes less than 1 cup of feed in 12 hours (now mixed at 20% grower, 80% starter ... a recent change). Could they possibly be eating enough lawn grass and bugs to make up for the reduction in commercial feed consumption??? They REALLY like the moss in the grass too and have been eating that a bunch too. I worry that they aren't eating enough even though they appear totally healthy, running and attempting to fly, and generally showing very good spirits... am I wrong?

    2) Is it OK for them to eat whatever they find? Moss?

    Thanks,
    Brian
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  2. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    They WILL eat 30% ore better of their diets off of "the range" if it is sufficient for them. I've kept small numbers of chicks on my back yard and only given them 1 cup of feed per day. They run to me like they are starving, gobble down a bit, and then wander back off into the "wild" to find more of the "good stuff"
    and yes, plants that they will eat much of are quite healthy for them. We've had poisonous polk weed plants/berries in the yard and the chickens simply didn't eat them.

    It may be some that the grass/range is new to them right now, so the old feed is boring. I put chicks out pretty early in their life since the weather is good most of the year in Arkansas. I usually see a dramatic drop in their feed consumption when I first put them on grass, then it slowly comes back up as 1) they grow and require more food and 2) the newness wears off from the excitement of the new foods.

    So long as they are pooping, they are eating enough of something, and if they're flying around acting feisty then don't worry about it. [​IMG]
     
  3. tananaBrian

    tananaBrian Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2011
    Thanks, and yes, plenty feisty ...but they don't try too hard to get away and they relax completely when we hold them. We've been handling them 5X a day (more or less) since the day we got them, and the entire neighborhood of kids have visited several times each ...great socialization. Anyway, I diverged! They do spill less food now too, but I also put the feeder on a block of wood to see if it would help reduce billing, and it seems to have worked fairly well. I'll use a hanging feeder in the coop... And I'll keep monitoring their feed consumption as well...

    Brian
     

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