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Nutrition: soy and corn and lifespan

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by DearYvette, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. DearYvette

    DearYvette In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2011
    I have read the archives here, and I'm still a bit confused. It seems like commercial poultry foods are generally designed to provide nutrition for the time it takes to raise a laying chicken or a fryer chicken. But what if you want pet chickens, and you don't want to force the issue of laying, and you have no intention of ever eating anybody? What if you want a flock of pet chickens who live for 13 years, and you don't give a hoot about eggs or using them as food?

    All of the nutritional info I can find here and everywhere seems to be all about laying and production. Fair enough, really. But in the long term, these diets (and also, as far as I can tell, some standard husbandry practices) seem to limit survivability.

    As far as I can tell, chickens fed diets high in soymeal and cornmeal (most commercial diets?) thrive for a number of years and don't seem to live beyond about 4 or 6 years. This worries me. Senior-chickenship should be about 10 to 13 years. It worries me that chickens die young and it's viewed as "normal". It may be common, but it's wrong. There is something off, somewhere.

    Can anyone point me to independent nutritional data that's not tied to industry? Has anyone on BYC done a poll on lifespans, related to food? I've looked, and I can't find threads related to this (which doesn't mean they're not here).

    How long did your oldest hen live? What's your advice? Please share.



  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    My advice would be to give them dark leafy greens, at least some non-soy protein and a variety of other healthy foods that you are eating. The healthiest diet for chickens isn't that different than the healthiest diet for parrots and people.

    There are a lot of different ways to provide more nutritional foods for your chickens. Some of it depends on the size of your property, your climate and the time of the year. I think a lot of people on this forum are feeding for health, not just productivity. There have been some really great threads on here.

    Edited to add that I meant to supplement a balanced feed with the greens and other foods. Also, if you want to stay away from GMO ingredients, buy organic feeds. After you learn more about the nutritional needs of chickens, you could mix your own feed. I think a high quality organic feed with some supplements will be a great start, for the pet goals you have.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011

    NYREDS Crowing

    Jan 14, 2008
    A lot depends on what you think chickens are for. If you think they're livestock, as I do, productivity is most important. While it may be possible for chickens to routinely live for 10 years or more it's doubtful they'd be producing much for the last several of those years. To my mind a 10 year old hen that hasn't laid an egg in years isn't worth feeding.
    If you see chickens as pets, as many here do, then it may be worthwhile for you to try to come up with an improved diet. Your chickens, your decision.
  4. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Providing them non-GMO corn, NO soy, and instead more greens, protein from insects and/or other greens/seeds/nuts, and a generally more natural diet such as free ranging or grains that aren't wheat, corn, etc can help.

    You've gotta remember - Just like cattle, chickens were not built to eat nothing but grains. Thus, both of them can have a shorter lifespan due to problems like acidosis and even hormone imbalances from the soy.

    I haven't had my chickens long enough to truly say, and part of the short lifespan of some chickens is also in the breeding done by hatcheries, too, but I can say that my girls certainly have much tastier eggs, much healthier lives, and much tastier meat (yes, I eat my chickens too - much more humane than buying from the store [​IMG] ) when free ranged / pastured. We here offer our girls and boys over 2 acre of pasture filled with native berry bushes, grasses, trees, etc as well as our excess produce from the farm.
  5. bantyhen'sfriend

    bantyhen'sfriend Songster

    Mar 22, 2009
    Southern Wisconsin
    In my opinion, feeding a special food to a bird for 5-10 years or more, especially if the bird is not producing for most of those 5-10+ years, is not financially posible. If you can afford to do that, go right ahead. But I will say that I have a five year old silver spangled hamburg hen anda five year old partridge cohin bantam cock, both from McMurray. I currently feed them Purina Flock Raiser, which I am almost certain has a good amount of soy and corn because it has no animal protein in it. Before I fed Flock Raiser, they got whichever laying feed I was feeding at the time, sometimes Agrimaster and sometimes from my local co-op. They don't show any signs of uitting yet, and the hamburg is still laying.

    Edit for spelling.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011

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