Ponderings about feeding chickens- strategy

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by matimeo, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    I've noticed my chickens are picky. They pass on things like earthworms; something you'd think would be a serious chicken treat. I just finished off the last of their starter (they are a little over three months old) and am now giving them a grower until they start laying (down to about 16% protein). I'm curious if they will gain more of an interest in worms and bugs now. I've been contemplating my strategy about feeding them in the long term. I had always assumed I would just give them free choice. Now I'm thinking I don't want to be doing that if they're going to be picky eaters. One of the big selling points for me on getting backyard chickens (small suburban back yard) was the pest control (especially if I can get them to eat slugs). Been considering giving them a minimal amount feed, maybe a little in the morning and a little before bed, then make them work for their food the rest of the time. I think we have enough of a backyard that they will be able to find a decent amount of food. Otherwise, seems like they're encouraged to just go for the easy meal. This last week was the first week where we let them out to free-range every day, but they ate pretty much the same amount of food as before (I suppose some of that could be chalked up to the fact that they are still growing).

    I'm curious if anybody else has had these thoughts rambling through their noggins, what you've done, what you've concluded.
     
  2. MissJenny

    MissJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 11, 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    My hens are seriously picky too -- everything people suggest they might like -- pumpkins, melons, strawberries -- they turn up their noses. I'm not counting on mine for bug control, but I am wondering how many bugs do you have this time of year. I'm in Ohio and even though temperatures are still in the 70's during the day, most of our bugs have gone underground. Do you have lots of bugs still?

    Jenny
     
  3. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    Not a ton of bugs. Lots of worms and slugs. I flip over logs and stuff and offer them what's underneath, but they don't seem interested. They do like moths. I was mostly noticing recently that they turn up their noses to worms, which I thought was odd.
     
  4. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I have a strategy that seems to be working for me...and my garden for bug control. Before I leave for work I go out to open the door, collect early eggs, and I throw any kitchen scraps into the run. I leave the run gate open so the girls can have the run of the yard during daylight hours. When I come home around 5 PM they are generally starting to head for the run anyway, since the days are getting shorter, I collect the eggs, and fill the feeders with food.

    This method serves twofold. First, they are hungry in the morning (although when I feed at night I give them enough so there is still some left for the morning, but not much). I find they will forage more efficiently when they are hungry. I notice that they really look forward to my AM visit, waiting at the gate to be let out. Second, I like the idea of feeding at night so that they go to roost with a full crop, especially with the nights getting colder. Also, feeding them when I come home calls them back to the coop so that none of them are hanging around outside during the night. Once they are all accounted for at the feeder I pull the pop door shut for the night. I have a light on a timer for them until 8PM so that they continue a constant supply of eggs. So they are not eating their dinner in the dark either. It seems to work for us. Initially when I decided to feed them at night I began by slowly decreasing their morning meal. We discontinued leaving food out all the time a year or so ago when the rodent population discovered our chicken feeders in a big way. At first I split their meals evenly, AM and PM. But when I wanted them to clean up the veggie garden for me I started weaning them off the morning meal.
     
  5. lauriej57

    lauriej57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 17, 2010
    Southwest Michigan
    I feed mine in the late afternoon, early evening also. They usually have a bit leftover for the morning. This works wonders for getting them back into the coop and run if they are freeranging, something comes up and I have to leave and won't be home before dark. I can pretty much get them into the coop anytime I want, just by feeding them.

    My run is almost as predator proof as my coop, so I feel confident if they are in the run after dark.

    If you have hatchery chicks, they will take a while to start liking different treats. Mine were the same way, and I didn't know why, until this year, I had a broody hatch 3 chicks. Those 3 are so much smarter than the hatchery birds. Mama taught them from day number one to scratch and look for food. I think they were about 4 days old when I threw in a few blueberries...mama would break it up a bit, call to her chicks and they gobbled them down. At the time, I had 3 month old hatchery chicks, who acted afraid of the blueberries. I believe the hatchery chicks just didn't have anyone to teach them these things, kick in their natural instincts. My hatchery chicks are now 7 months old, and they pretty much eat any treat now. Just took them longer.
     
  6. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    Great info. Thanks for the replies.
     

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