Overfeeding or underfeeding??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by shay0903, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. shay0903

    shay0903 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 25, 2011
    We have a flock of layers that have a large run but do not free range at all. We bought a large feeder at TSC and fill it daily sometimes twice daily with scratch and laying mash. We also give them greens (grass, dandelions, etc) daily. They get oyster shells every other day to supplement for their egg laying. Occasionally we will give them various treats but never any large amount. We have a total of 8 hens ( 4 golden comets, 1 jersey giant, 2 leghorms and game hen) They are laying pretty much daily with the exception 2 that seem to be every other day right now. My question is they seem to be eating the entire container of feed and sometimes 2 daily. We usually throw out a handful on the ground too. This just seems like an awful lot in reading the other posts. Our leghorns are enormous in that one looks like she waddles rather than walks!! the others are healthy but not too bad yet. Is this too much or just right?? Any suggestions are appreciated.
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    1) I would stop mixing scratch in with your feed. Most commercial, bagged scratch has very poor nutritional value...I equate it to candy bars for people. So when you mix it with regular feed (I equate to peas or broccoli), the chickens will spoon out the layer feed to get to the scratch. Are you finding feed on the ground? Scratch is a treat, so a handful or two tossed out a day is plenty.
    2) Chickens will always act like they're starving when you put anything "new" out.
    3) What size is your feeder? Most say something like "7 lb. feeder" or something like that.
    4) I'd sit out for an hour or so on a weekend and watch to see if you have birds eating some of the feed...
     
  3. shay0903

    shay0903 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 25, 2011
    We have watched for a while and not seen anything else getting to the feed. We have the TSC 7lb feeder hanging. We usually do not see alot of the feed on the ground when we go to refill in the evenings. Sometimes during the day when I check on them i have noticed small amounts but not alot. But we did not realize that about the scratch so we will definetly be changing that !! Thanks!!
     
  4. mons02035

    mons02035 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First, as already said, take out the scratch. I also think you are losing feed to waste because your using a mash, I use pellets and sometimes crumbles, I find that I go through crumbles like there is no tommorrow and I am guessing that most of it ends up on the ground and never eaten.

    I also give oyster shells free choice and food as well and grit (only because they are not outdoors everyday).

    I give about 2 handfulls of scratch a day and thats for 5 hens.

    Oh, and free choice water of course......
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm just wondering about the waddling leghorn--are you sure she's a leghorn? The're usually lighter built birds. Do you have a pic?

    For what it's worth, I feed three-four coffee cans of crumbles a day, that's for 21 free ranging birds, about half of which are laying. Sometimes. Darn freeloaders!
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Something is definitely going on then if 8 birds are going through even one full 7 lb feeder in a day, much less if you're having to refill it. My birds do free range now, but in winter they can't, and rely totally on their feed (other than scraps/treats of course).
    To put things in perspective, this past winter (no freeranging) my 7 birds (granted, one is a bantam) would go through a 40 lb. bag of crumbles in about 5 weeks. Since I free range, in the warm months when grass grows, they go through less. You're saying that your flock is going through a 40 lb bag in a WEEK???? That just doesn't sound right. Maybe you should try switching to crumbles or pellets to see if that helps...
     
  7. chickschool

    chickschool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally, I'd pull the "treats" and switch to pellets. Then I'd limit the amount you give them each day. If they have a large run they should be able to find a lot of natural foods to eat. We usually let ours out during the day to free range from June-Aug and other than giving them lots of fresh water we consume very little commercial feed. Bottom line is if they are really truly hungry they will find food. I think you'll also find the eggs are much more beautiful.
     
  8. trilyn

    trilyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    East Syracuse
    Sure you don't have any mice? They can do a number on the feed bill...sounds like those leghorns may actually be cornish rocks...could be wrong.
     
  9. shay0903

    shay0903 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 25, 2011
    We are definetly going to try the suggestions and buy some pellet feed or crumbles to see if this helps. I fed them at 12 today and by 6pm the entire bucket was pretty well gone. I did notice there was alot of the mash on the ground but no where close to the 7lb bucket. Thanks for the help as we are still learning and this site has been extremely helpful. ~~ As far as what I "thought" were leghorns...we weren't sure because we just purchased laying hens from someone local... but I'm thinking the above was more correct in that they are cornish rocks or some type of cornish x broiler types. But the only thing , when I researched these breeds it says they lay medium size light brown but these hens lay a darker creamy white x-large eggs. There are the biggest eggs we have seen so far! They will not fit in a large carton. I hope to take some photos of the birds and the eggs tommorow as it is so late this evening and all my photos they seem to be in the background. It seems these breeds have been brought about to gain weight quickly to sale for meat. So I wonder now is it they are just used to eating so much they overeat...which can literally kill them. YIKES!! They are great "big" layers we don't want to lose them yet....[​IMG] Any other advise suggestions is welcome.
     
  10. chickschool

    chickschool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just read somewhere else on a different post that they will take out their feeder when empty and make the chicken eat everything they've wasted on the floor which I think is a really good idea. They are very wasteful and even with the crumble will waste about 60% of that. I recently was advised to switch to the pellets as there is way less waste. I spoil my girls to a point, even letting them into the house with us to watch TV, but in the end they do work for us. You can spoil your babies but as I said before...if they are really hungry will find the food they need. You can always check their crops.
     

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