Pellets vs. Grain Feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ClydesdaleSocks, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. ClydesdaleSocks

    ClydesdaleSocks Out Of The Brooder

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    We've only had our chickens (3 Buff Orpington hens that are ~21 months old) for a couple months. We were feeding them from the bag of feed the guy we bought them from gave us (it was Countryside Organic soy-free layer feed). It was a grain type mix. We were getting 2 eggs a day and the girls were plowing through their gallon feeder in 1-2 days (but also wasting a lot by knocking it out of the feeder onto the coop floor). When we replaced the feed, we got a pelleted layer feed. They haven't been eating (or wasting) as much as they were with the other feed but we've also seen a drastic drop in egg production (only about 1 egg every other day) and size. I haven't had to fill up the feeder in over a week and it's still about half full! Right now they're only getting to free range about 4 hrs a day, but not every day (we just bought this property and haven't moved out there yet so they don't get to free range the whole day yet). So is a grain feed better for layers? Or is the pelleted feed okay and we just need to supplement with cracked corn or some other type of grain? Or is the drop in egg production due to the drop in temperature the last few days? TIA! :)
     
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    This is what the question should be. "So is pelleted feed better for layers, or are grains okay..."

    If the pelletized feed is layer feed and it is formulated with an eye toward the health of the hen and not formulated to capture the pocket book of the person paying the feed bill, then good fresh lay pellets beat scratch feed or grains hands down.

    Whatever you do be sure that any feed that you give your layers has a large amount of animal protein in it. There is no protein that is better for layers than animal protein, that is how you got away with feeding soy free chicken feed but still got eggs. Scratch grains alone are deficient in the quality protein hens need to lay or even to alive, that is unless the hen can supplement its diet by free ranging, and even then its a crap shoot. Three buff Orpington hens should eat somewhere on the order of 14 ounces to 1 pound of good quality laying pellets a day, if they have a quality free range and the time to exploit the range, then maybe a little less. When fed free choice out of bowls or feeders chickens pick over their food by shoveling it out on the ground with the underside of their beak.

    The drop in egg size should concern you more than the drop in egg numbers, this is a sure sign of incepted malnutrition or starvation..
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG]

    I just got a peek at your avatar. Your daughter is precious. I have two daughters myself and they are both grown off or fed out, and they both have had all their shots. I'll trade you two for one? [​IMG]

    My two G Grand Daughters are about that age but I don't get to see them every day. My advise to you is to enjoy your children before they grow up and fly the coop.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  4. ClydesdaleSocks

    ClydesdaleSocks Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 17, 2013
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    Thank you very much!! I will get out there this morning ASAP and check that bag. It was just the brand the local feed store carried - never heard of it but then again I haven't had chickens that long so, haha. I can always go another town over - they have a Tractor Supply so I can get Purina or Dumor there. I never would have guessed possible starvation or malnutrition since I let them have free choice feed access. Poor girls. :(
     
  5. ClydesdaleSocks

    ClydesdaleSocks Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh and thank you for the compliment. She's so much fun. :) She'll be 14 months old next week and absolutely loves "her" chickens. As soon as you go outside she starts pointing at the coop going "buck buck buck!" Adorable. :) She also likes to get ahold of the treat can and try to entice them over to her. :D
     
  6. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    If the question was pellets versus mash (grain feed from Countryside) there is no difference as far as ingredients. Waste may be an issue however. If your area is like mine, you will be hard pressed to find a regular layer feed with animal protein in it. Most feeds marketed to backyard chickens is vegetarian. Even Dumor at my TSC is vegetarian. The Countryside feed does has animal protein in the form of fishmeal.
     
  7. wholehearted

    wholehearted Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When we were getting ready to move and our chickens were going to new owners, we had to transition them to a pellet type feed. We had previously been feeding Hiland Naturals soy-free which is more loose grains like the Countryside. We started by mixing small portions of the new into the old, but they would still leave all the pellets behind and eat the old feed. Eventually, they did start eating it as we increased the amount of new feed, but it took awhile. They do that with scratch too...they pick the best stuff first and save what they don't like for last. I think chickens just like to peck and pick through things, so the whole grains might've been more interesting to them.

    If you wanted to use a fresh ground feed rather than pellets, there are some things you can do to reduce the waste. We switched to a trough style feeder and placed it a little higher than average so the chickens weren't able to bill so much of it out on the floor.

    Egg production can be lower in the winter for other reasons too, especially if they don't receive supplemental light. Do the chickens themselves look healthy?
     
  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    The change of feed and moving them stressed them out. They'll get over it and take to the layer in no time.
     
  9. ClydesdaleSocks

    ClydesdaleSocks Out Of The Brooder

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    They seem healthy and energetic. One is molting. I was actually thinking and I'm wondering if instead of seeing a decrease in egg size, I'm actually seeing the same chicken laying. We have one chicken that lays a smaller, darker egg than the other two. The last 3 eggs have been small and dark. So maybe she's the only one laying? We did have an incident about a week and a half ago where our Corgi chased a couple of the chickens. The one that got the brunt of the chasing (he didn't hurt them, just chased), is the one that is currently molting. So maybe it is stress related and those two girls just aren't laying right now? :/
     
  10. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed a pelleted 'flock' feed with oyster shells available 'on the side'. I use a trash can with a 'chicken trigger' (www.triggerhappychickens.co.uk ) and I can put 50lbs in at a time. When I was feeding crumbles, there was always a large pile of waste around the feeder. But now I never see any waste. I have 10 hens and a roo and usually can get through a month before having to refill. This setup seems to be GREAT at cutting out waste. The girls are a little over a year old, just finishing up a molt, and I don't supply any extra light - and I get 3-4 eggs a day.
     

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