My hens scatter most of their food on the ground and then don't eat it!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by furnieb, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. furnieb

    furnieb New Egg

    Mar 3, 2012
    Greeley, CO
    I have a self-feeder for convenience and I noticed that there's a lot of feed that they scatter out of the feeder. Once it's on the ground, they don't really eat it anymore. And why would they since there's always a fresh supply in the feeder!

    I have 12 chickens and have been going through 40# of feed in about 10 days or so. That seems a little high - estimates I've seen are 4# for a dozen eggs. For my hens, that would be about 25# in 10 days. I hate to waste the food - and money! - but still want the convenience of a self-feeder.

    I've tried raising the feeder (it hangs from a chain from ceiling), but does anyone else have suggestions or insights?

    Not sure if it matters, but I've been feeding them organic 20% layer mix, but just realized I'm supposed to give hen scratch, too. I just put some out for them - they can just take it in another self-feed dish, right? I don't have to actually mix it in with their other feed, do I?

    Thanks, Beth
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    It may be your feed. My birds pick through it when the do not like it or the nutrient balance is off. I have tried several feeds over last couple years and some of my birds do not like the organic/all-grain stuff. They pick through it and slow down in egg production. In contrast my California gray crosses pound the stuff down and lay just fine on same feed. Try a feed that is less wholesome to see if intake picks up. Also, feed on ground is more than simply wasted feed, it attracts pests (rodents) and opportunistic predotars (oppossums and raccoons) and may promote undesirable bacteria and fungi as part of decomposition process.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  3. flowerchild59

    flowerchild59 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2010
    Southern IL
    Don't mix scratch or other things into their pellets. They will dig around and root around for the goodies they like. Limit the items other than pellets for a couple of weeks. They won't stare but they will try to convince you that they are. Only put out what they will eat in a day or put another larger bowl under the feeder to catch the wasted feed.
  4. Imma Okie

    Imma Okie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2011
    I was lucky enough to find a few old feeders (pictured) that work great. My chickens don't waste any crumbles and pests are less likely to feast. I scatter the scratch on the ground when they are roaming free during the day. None of the scratch is wasted. After the chickens are done, the guineas come in and clean up.

    lazy gardener likes this.
  5. BWKatz

    BWKatz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    I put my feeder (which is a 5gal bucket ,holes in the bottom edges and attached to lg plant saucer) on top of a pallet with boards close together.It keeps their food clean and they eat any billed out portions from the pallet. I throw their sunflowr seeds out in the sand and straw to give them something to hunt/scratch for. I put their recycled eggshells in their treats. Mine don't get scratch and I'm getting 7-9 eggs/day from 9 hens.
  6. Imma Okie

    Imma Okie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2011
    Great idea! I didn't want to just give them shells because I thought they would start pecking eggs before I gather them. Mixing them with treats makes total sense!
  7. claudicles

    claudicles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    I've seen some people advocate leaving the feeder empty one day in four to encourage the grils to clean up after themselves. You could try that. Oh and I don't think feeding ground shells encourages egg eating. Mine will egg eat if they run out of shell grit but not otherwise.
  8. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I saw a great solution to that. It was a bucket set in a pan type feeder that people make all the time. EXCEPT, the pan has 6" sides. The feed never gets more than about an inch deep and they can't bill food over those high sides. I am now using dishpans with a brick in the middle and no one wastes feed any more. I wish I had that old feeder in the picture above. Those are perfect.
    11mini and lazy gardener like this.
  9. jrward

    jrward Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 5, 2012
    my birds do not like the organic stuff either. the cheaper the feed the more they like it. they are not food snobs. raising the feeder high off the ground worked well for me.
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Is your feed in pellet or crumble form?

    This makes a HUGE difference in waste. Once pullets were grown out our first year they started scattering more and more feed. Last spring our run was a rotting pit. Moved them to fresh ground and had to take many breaks as I worked to scrap/dig up the odorous offence and toss in compost pile. What made all the difference was switching to pellets. Another thing that causes them to scatter feed is if you mix seeds or scratch in with it, they mull through it looking for favorite grain, usually oats.

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