New chicken momma....very frustrated with feeding :-( Calling all suggestions!!!

ChickenHawk12

Chirping
May 7, 2015
153
6
76
We've had our first batch of chicks (5 BO's) for 2 weeks now (got them at 3-4 days old), and I'm already losing my mind with frustration about feeding them. I use milled starter in a mason jar feeder. My issues are 1)Mess/wasted food, and 2)Getting them to eat the fines/powder left at the bottom.

I posted a few days ago on the baby chicks board about reducing food waste, and upon someone's suggestion, I put the feeder up on a brick so it is chest level for them. But honestly, it really didn't help with the food waste. It seems they are picking through and eating what they like and tossing the rest on the floor.

When there is mostly just fines/powder left (which is usually mid-afternoon when I fill the mason jar in the morning), I put it into an open bowl and mix it with water until it has an oatmeal-like consistency, and it goes back in the brooder on the brick. Once that is gone, I will wait an hour or two in hopes that they pick some of what they have thrown on the floor, and then I fill up the mason jar feeder again and put it back in the brooder.

-Is a mason-jar full of food for 5 almost-3-week-old chicks a normal amount? I still feed like so much is going to waste. I don't want to starve them, but I feel like that's more than I should be going through in a day (but I'm new at this and I'm not really sure)

-They really don't seem to want anything to do with the fines mixture. Also, I have to go in every few hours and break it up with a plastic knife because it dries up on top and cakes up, and then they really don't touch it. I've been thinking about fermenting feed, but will this happen with the fermented feed too? Everyone says their chickens love FF, but I don't want to waste even more feed by fermenting if they are going to refuse wet food, or if it is going to crust over like it is now when I wet it :-(

This is as bad as feeding my two difficult infants! If anyone has useful suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Someone on the other board suggested an ice cube try feeder that I might try, but I'm not sure it will hold enough food for 5 BO's for 1 day, or if I will be refilling it multiple times a day.
 

ChookRanger

Songster
Jun 25, 2014
247
25
111
Hello ChickenHawk! I feel your frustration. I currently have a mix of 9 chicks of various breeds and they like to waste their food too. I tried filling the jar and they seem to scatter the food everywhere, so I took off the jar and just filled the bottom with food, they don't seem to waste as much. I usually put about a cup and a half in about twice a day and it is plenty. As to the powder I don't know how to deal with that, I don't seem to get much of it. Good luck!
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,756
36,843
1,096
southern Michigan
Welcome! I fill the feeders with chick starter, and let them have at it! Some of the feeders help more with spilling feed, but beyond that, just lean back and enjoy the little guys. Moistened feed will spoil, and having empty feeders isn't good for the babies. Do they spill feed? Sure. Does it really matter? Not so much. They will root through the bedding to find food, also good. I'm feeding thirty chicks right now, and they really go through the food. Remember, it's about three pounds of feed for each pound of weight gain for many breeds. Five large breed chicks to seven pounds each is about 105 pounds of feed, or more. Mary
 

adkhunter1590

Chirping
Apr 14, 2015
94
46
76
Albany, NY
My Coop
My Coop
Mine did the same thing. Wasted food like crazy. I ended up letting them run out of food in the feeder and let them pick the food off the floor of the brooder. I figured it would also teach them to forage for food like I want them to do outside. I would monitor how much food I could see left on the floor before filling the feeder back up.

Now that my flock has gotten to be a little older now. Around 5-6 weeks. I'm using a bucket no waste style feeder. 3 inch pvc elbow into a bucket so they have to stick their heads in to eat. End result is fed chickens and no wasting of food. I switched them to this feeder around 4 weeks of age. They figured it out pretty quick. Just show one of them where the food is by sticking it's head in and put some food around the mouth of the pvc elbow. They will figure it out from there. This feeder pictured was my first attempt at making one to see if they would even eat from it. I'm going to make another one with more elbows so more than one can eat at a time. Although they all do eat from it just fine as is.
400

400
 

ChickenHawk12

Chirping
May 7, 2015
153
6
76
Welcome! I fill the feeders with chick starter, and let them have at it! Some of the feeders help more with spilling feed, but beyond that, just lean back and enjoy the little guys. Moistened feed will spoil, and having empty feeders isn't good for the babies. Do they spill feed? Sure. Does it really matter? Not so much. They will root through the bedding to find food, also good. I'm feeding thirty chicks right now, and they really go through the food. Remember, it's about three pounds of feed for each pound of weight gain for many breeds. Five large breed chicks to seven pounds each is about 105 pounds of feed, or more. Mary
How fast does moistened food spoil? It's only in there a few hours. Is that long enough to spoil?

When I ordered the feed, they told me about 6 pounds of starter per chick for the entire 8 weeks they are on starter. I have had them 2 weeks today, and I am halfway through a 25-pound bag. It does kind of matter to me that as little as possible is wasted, because I would like to continue feeding them the organic, non-gmo feed I have been (because we will be eating the eggs), and it costs 3 times more than the Purina stuff. I don't mind if they are actually eating it, but when I empty out the brooder to clean it, the amount of feed at the bottom under the pine shavings is incredible. I can't keep feeding them what I'd like to if 25-50% of it is getting thrown out. This is why I'm feeling so frustrated. I watch them use their beaks and they just kind of knock the feed out of the feeder, I think looking for the bits they want, but how long do I leave the feeder empty when I see food on the brooder floor and in the bedding?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,756
36,843
1,096
southern Michigan
I feed a starter/ grower feed (Flock Raiser, not organic) and plan on using a lot of feed. They will scratch through the bedding, and some feeders are less wasteful than others, but chicks are not neatnicks, and will throw stuff around. A complete feed is best, not a grain mix. The mixed grains promote waste and nutritional imbalances, because the birds will pick out the yummy bits and leave the rest. Mary
 

ChickenHawk12

Chirping
May 7, 2015
153
6
76
Mine did the same thing. Wasted food like crazy. I ended up letting them run out of food in the feeder and let them pick the food off the floor of the brooder. I figured it would also teach them to forage for food like I want them to do outside. I would monitor how much food I could see left on the floor before filling the feeder back up.

Now that my flock has gotten to be a little older now. Around 5-6 weeks. I'm using a bucket no waste style feeder. 3 inch pvc elbow into a bucket so they have to stick their heads in to eat. End result is fed chickens and no wasting of food. I switched them to this feeder around 4 weeks of age. They figured it out pretty quick. Just show one of them where the food is by sticking it's head in and put some food around the mouth of the pvc elbow. They will figure it out from there. This feeder pictured was my first attempt at making one to see if they would even eat from it. I'm going to make another one with more elbows so more than one can eat at a time. Although they all do eat from it just fine as is.

Thanks for the suggestion!! After seeing the messy eaters that they are in the brooder, I have been searching for no-waste feeder ideas for when we put them outside! Did you put them outside at 5 weeks?
 

adkhunter1590

Chirping
Apr 14, 2015
94
46
76
Albany, NY
My Coop
My Coop
I put them outside in the coop around 3-4 weeks. Left them in there for a few days then let them go outside in the run from morning till night. Took only about 3-4 days for them to figure out the routine of go outside in the morning and go in the coop before dark.

The bucket feeder has worked great for us. They don't waste a single piece of food. And it stays clean. The pics I posted is with it sitting on the ground. Now that my chicks have gotten bigger I've raised it up on a couple 2x4 scrap pieces I had laying around. This allows them to stand instead of crouch to get into the feeder. As they get older/taller I will raise it up. Its a truly simple design and works great.
 

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