Picky eaters, or missed window?

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
3,371
9,030
487
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
I never thought chickens would be picky with food... Chickens - the recycling bins of the farm world! But mine refuse an awful lot of stuff that other people's chickens (and chickens I've had before) seem to love. Like pumpkin, strawberries, greens, corn on the cob, etc. etc. Mine pretty much love their crumble, scratch grains, mealworms and blueberries, and that's about it. They won't even eat earthworms (which I'm actually happy about, because I like earthworms). So now I'm wondering if these chickens are just picky, or if I've failed to teach them to eat a varied diet. These are the first chickens I've hatched and hand-reared myself. There's an overwhelming majority on BYC who are saying to stick to feed when they are young, and limit scraps and other non-feed food after they grow up, too, so I guess I never made an explicit effort to expose them to a lot of foods, figuring they have it in them to want to eat other stuff, should I have leftovers I want to get rid of. So they have eaten their crumble for most of their 7-month-old lives, with the occasional treat (from the short list they like) and occasional attempt to get them to eat anything else, with the latter failing miserably more often than not. Do chickens have a window of adventurous eating early on that closes if you don't expose them to a variety of foods? Should I try harder with my next batch of chicks in the spring? Or are these chickens just picky for some reason? They seem happy and healthy, but I was really hoping to use them to recycle leftover produce and various unwanted plant material, like Halloween pumpkins and what not...
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
8,085
24,220
951
New Zealand
As young ones mine didn't like a lot of things. They wouldn't even eat fruit. Now that they are older they have developed a taste for different foods and they are good garbage disposals. They still won't touch a head of cabbage though and they don't like veges from the supermarket - those have to be home grown. 🤣

It does take them awhile to even try new foods, so just keep offering a bit here and there.
 

Wormhunter

Songster
May 8, 2020
278
754
156
I never thought chickens would be picky with food... Chickens - the recycling bins of the farm world! But mine refuse an awful lot of stuff that other people's chickens (and chickens I've had before) seem to love. Like pumpkin, strawberries, greens, corn on the cob, etc. etc. Mine pretty much love their crumble, scratch grains, mealworms and blueberries, and that's about it. They won't even eat earthworms (which I'm actually happy about, because I like earthworms). So now I'm wondering if these chickens are just picky, or if I've failed to teach them to eat a varied diet. These are the first chickens I've hatched and hand-reared myself. There's an overwhelming majority on BYC who are saying to stick to feed when they are young, and limit scraps and other non-feed food after they grow up, too, so I guess I never made an explicit effort to expose them to a lot of foods, figuring they have it in them to want to eat other stuff, should I have leftovers I want to get rid of. So they have eaten their crumble for most of their 7-month-old lives, with the occasional treat (from the short list they like) and occasional attempt to get them to eat anything else, with the latter failing miserably more often than not. Do chickens have a window of adventurous eating early on that closes if you don't expose them to a variety of foods? Should I try harder with my next batch of chicks in the spring? Or are these chickens just picky for some reason? They seem happy and healthy, but I was really hoping to use them to recycle leftover produce and various unwanted plant material, like Halloween pumpkins and what not...
 

Wormhunter

Songster
May 8, 2020
278
754
156
Saw this thread and it rang a bell with my own experiences!
I acquired 7 little red hens in March of this year, I was all prepared with lovely food hoppers, a pen a coop and lots of stimulating resources, I took advice from BYc but still my girls avoided all fruit and veg except tomatoes and grapes ( cubed of course)
Here the trees are bare and there is very little greenery , on a walk ( we live in the country) we saw a plant on our neighbours border, he said it was an ‘escaped’ Brussels sprout plant
We pulled up the plant and left it lying on the lawn ( useful green compost if nothing else)
The girls LoVED it !!!! Pecked it bare to the stalk, I was sooo thrilled
They now eat dark green cabbage and Brussels tops, Kale is their absolute favourite
I do have to chop it finely but ‘ who cares’ “my girls eat veg!!” Maybe it was just about maturity as they are now 12 months old !
Hope this helps
 

ackie

previously jwehl // dogs & cats & squirrels oh my!
Nov 3, 2020
5,131
15,965
556
Atlanta GA
One of mine stole a blueberry out of my cereal bowl yesterday. I dont give them anything but feed, though they do free range and have access to the compost pile.

IDK why I said yesterday. That was at least a week ago.
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
15,570
78,149
1,327
Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
Iv'e found it depends on how much you're involved with them from a very early age as to how adventurous their tastes are.
Im hands on from day 1, lots of handling and they see me 24/7.
Im basically a sad excuse for a hen, but the chicks will eat whatever I put down because they trust me to lead them towards good things.:)
 

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