Our Hens Refuse to Eat Crumbles or Lay Pellets

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by damami64, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. damami64

    damami64 Hatching

    Feb 26, 2017
    San Diego, CA
    We have tried giving our little free range flock layer pellets and crumbles. They will not eat the pellets no matter what we try. At the end of every day, there is a lot of crumble left over, most of the scratch is gone. Any advice on how to "encourage" the girls to eat the crumbles? As I understand it, the crumbles are essential to their diet. I appreciate your suggestions.
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    First step is to cut out the scratch -- the scratch is the most attractive feed so they will always eat that before they think about eating the pellets or crumble, and then they're too full to want the good feed. Save the scratch for a treat - tossing a handful in the afternoon. This will encourage them to fill up on the good feed first thing in the morning and at dusk before going to roost - natural times of day for them to want to fill their crops with food.
    How are you feeding them? Are you putting what you consider to be a day's ration into a feeder, onto the ground, etc? Are you using a free feeding setup that dispenses feed on demand?
  3. damami64

    damami64 Hatching

    Feb 26, 2017
    San Diego, CA
    Ole Grey Mare, we scatter a combination of scratch and crumble in the yard in the morning. We do this in a few different places so that the girls roam and the food is sheltered by the lower lying bushes. In the evening we coax the flock into the coop by means of dried meal worms sparingly scattered in the coop. If it looks like they've eaten all of the scratch during the day, I'll toss out another handful or two for them. They are free range and they do have full access to the compost bins. I will give them assorted produce throughout the day such as cabbage, tomato, strawberries and they do get the non meat table scraps too.
  4. peeper89

    peeper89 Songster

    Feb 21, 2017
    try give them poultryfeed only for little while they only want scratch it like candy but no good nutrition like lay feed
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Crossing the Road Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    Sounds to me like they are full of treats.
    If it were my group of birds I would stop the veggie treats completely and cut the scratch to 1/8th of a cup or less per bird for full size birds.
    I would keep pellets available all day every day.

    To encourage them to eat the prepared feed I recommend taking 1/8th cup per bird of the pellets and adding hot water. It will quickly soak up the water and become a mash.

    I give this to my hens this every morning. I also spread scratch in the run at that time. What I have noticed is that roughly 1/2 of my flock will come back into the coop for the mash while ignoring the scratch in the run. By the time I get home from work there is none left. They do eat the dry pellets as well.

    It is what works for mine. Every flock is different though. Keeping them confined for a few hours in the morning will also encourage them to eat the pellets.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    A chicken certainly wont starve itself. Don't supply anything extra for a good while, say a week. Only provide the crumble or pellet feed. They will eat it.
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Agree with the others. You need to be tough and stop the treats altogether and scratch is one of their favourite treats. As the others have said they will eat it first and then not eat their proper ration. If they are free ranging then they don't need the veggie treats. Meat scraps are actually beneficial....chickens are omnivores like us and like meat and fish as well as insects, grains and vegetation. Part of the problem at the moment is that there is not enough protein in the scratch compared to their crumbles and with the extra veggies their overall diet will be low in protein unless you are feeding huge amounts of meal worms. Of course, they will be very used to their current regime and may go on hunger strike for a couple of days when they don't get their scratch, but stick it out because the scratch is not good for them.....Last year I butchered my neighbours hens for him as they were very poor layers and he wanted rid of them. They had been fed about 50%scratch and when I plucked them and opened them up they were obese and their organs encased in solid yellow fatty deposits. It was no wonder they were not laying well. It taught me a thing or two about diet and I'm much more strict with my own hens now and how much scratch they get.

    Also, throwing the crumbles on the ground is just a waste and will encourage wild birds and rats, both of which can bring disease. I occasionally throw pellets down when my flock are confined, just to give them something to do to help prevent boredom, but when they are free ranging, it is best to have a feeder hanging in the coop or run so that they have access to pellets/crumble throughout the day. They will come and go to get food when they want it and then head back off to look for more interesting things to do.
  8. damami64

    damami64 Hatching

    Feb 26, 2017
    San Diego, CA
    Thank you all so much for the great information. Going to implement no scratch & feeder starting tomorrow. [​IMG]

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