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Questioning "the system"

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by vstoltzfus, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. vstoltzfus

    vstoltzfus Songster

    Aug 10, 2009
    Lancaster County, PA
    I've been raising hens for years now, and until a few months ago I've been happy with feeding my girls commercial feed. But lately I've been wondering if the old way is best--letting the girls fend for themselves as they free range over my 3 acres. I give them some feed in the morning, but no longer let them get their fill. I'd rather have them eat grass, bugs, and table scraps, even if it means I get fewer eggs. I know come winter I'll have to supplement. I'm wondering if there is anyone else out there who is "free range only" who can give me some input. Thanks!

  2. BarnGoddess01

    BarnGoddess01 I [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]

    I'm slightly north of you so I (and the birds) also deal with winter. I let the ladies free-range full time from April to December but I still leave the commercial stuff available to them 24/7. However, I find even with 23 birds, I only have to refill the feeder once a month or so except when they are locked up. Basically, when they have options, I let the them choose.
  3. BellevueOmlet

    BellevueOmlet Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    My preferance is to let them choose and always have commercial feed available. They would much rather forage for food so they get most of their food from plants and bugs so they don't each much feed during the summer. I feel like this makes sure they are always getting enough of the right nutrition.
  4. ChickenAl

    ChickenAl Diagnosis...Chicken-Headed

    Jun 5, 2011
    Putnam cty, NY
    Just putting my 2 cents in with agreeing with the above suggestions. Leaving the birds the choice so they can maintain full nutrition is probably the most sensible idea.
  5. duckinnut

    duckinnut Songster

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    Let my girls have free access to feed all day long. When I open the door to go out in the am they dont even slow down to look at the feeder.Its out to get scratch and whatever else they can find,bugs, toads and the like.
  6. Keeter

    Keeter In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2011
    I'm for free range self-feeding as much as possible, but leave food in the coop and run for their free choice, as well.

    One caution: If you are involved in the heat wave, feeding scratch would not be good in the heat, as it is a food that generates additional body heat. Melons or other greens are a better choice in the heat.
  7. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    We also leave pellets available all day and let them eat as they need it along with the foraging they do in the yard. Darn critters still have the age old instincts that tell them what they need to eat to round off the diet. Though I have seen birds get "fat" on too many treats etc. if left to their own with a small treat daily they are healthy as can be between forage and feed.

    We on the other hand....

  8. PapiChoso

    PapiChoso In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2011
    Lawrenceville, VA
    I'm pretty new at being raised by chickens, but I feed much like everyone else seems to suggest. Mine have access to feed but I also give them (appropriate) table scraps and let them forage as much as possible. There are virtually no crickets, spiders, grasshoppers, etc. left in any area they can access.
  9. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Songster

    Mar 2, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Newbie here, but I am AMAZED at how much green stuff they consume when they have the option. And I am amaze at how busy they are for most of the day foraging. They really work and seem to enjoy themselves. I never thought of chickens as grazers or foragers but they certainly are. They love the white dutch clover and bluegrass, especially, as well as garden goodies. I notice the poo is less smelly and more green than when they were only on commercial feed. They still have constant access to feed but the forage is now a major component and feed consumption is relatively lower. They just started laying a few weeks ago, and so far so good with the ample greens, and the eggs are lovely. I would rather have them lay less frequently but be healthy and happy and lay for more years, as they will be old age pensioners with me.
  10. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Crowing

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Quote:Scratch does not generate any more heat than regular feed that is made from the "scratch" ingredients, it's a myth.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

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