Some questions about preventing obesity and cleaning feeders

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Jemma Rider, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. Jemma Rider

    Jemma Rider Songster

    Nov 25, 2017
    I have some questions here, i hope it doesn't seem like i haven't read about chicken feeding and nutrition at all here i have a tendency to sound completely uneducated and i apologize.
    So i have a hanging feeder full of feed out in the run every day, it's always kept full for simplicity. I let the birds free rang every day (i lock them up when i leave the house but ultimately they spend most of their time in the yard) they very rarely come back to the feeders. They're currently on whatever layer pellets are cheapest without lacking in quality that's sold at my feed store though I've been meaning to put them on organic vegetarian flock raiser (and continue to offer oyster shells for the hens) since i have both a rooster and three chicks who won't be laying eggs for a while. I wanted to switch them onto fermented feed or at least a wet mash but i don't think they eat nearly enough pellets a day to do that and it would result in a lot of wasted feed.
    I'm just wondering if how I'm providing food is okay, I've read about obesity related problems in birds way back when i was first reading about getting chickens and it's always been a thought in the back of my mind, I'm also very careful that the amount of treats and kitchen scraps never exceeds roughly ten percent of their diet.

    Also, I've been cleaning my waterers and feeders once a week since i got the birds, i normally bring out a toothbrush and just scrub the containers until they feel and look clean but I've always been scared to use any chemicals though i read i should soak it in a diluted bleach solution.
    I'm just wondering how some other people clean theirs? Also, is there a way i can prevent the green slime from growing in my waters? Since I've got these stupid things I've been scrubbing off the green algae stuff every time i change the water (once sometimes twice a day). I think it because my run is in direct sunlight, i literally just got a roof for my run today which is just absolutely amazing I've always wanted a roof, anyway so i think that might help the algae not grow. I read something about apple cider vinegar stopping the algae growth but i can't stand the smell of vinegar and i can smell if in the smallest amounts. I have ACV on my shopping list anyway because of how ridiculous the algae problem is getting with me scrubbing the waters so often, but if there's something else i can do to stop it i am open to suggestions. I'm also getting some extra feeders and waters in a few days and i would like to keep them looking nice and new.
    Thanks everybody!:D
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I recommend feeding an All Flock or flock raiser with a separate bowl of oyster shells for the calcium needs. A good ration with decent amount of protein will help keep things balanced. I like 18-20% protein. I also don't need to worry about switching feeds or feed types.

    The only problem with keeping your feeder full is it may draw in rodents. I personally put out an amount that will get cleaned up by night fall, than I give out fresh stuff in the morning. Sometimes there's a bit left and sometimes the bowls are empty.

    I don't ferment. I don't see the benefits of doing so. I do sometimes offer warm wet feed in winter because it freezes instead of molding. Wet feed can mold quickly. I prefer a good quality dry feed.

    Free ranging birds generally get enough exercise to not get fat. Be careful feeding things like corn, sunflower seeds, or other fatty treats. Some are okay and are welcome during colder weather. Too much can cause fat birds. I do give out daily scratch as I enjoy doing so and it gives me a chance to look birds over.

    I personally never clean out my feed dishes beyond dumping debris out daily. Water containers and waterers get a quick scrub with a brush occasionally but probably not as often as some do. I never use bleach. I also never use vinegar. I personally think a bit of algae doesn't hurt them, and probably provides some benefits. Vinegar can make birds not consume as much water. I don't buy into it being the cure all some say it is. Just my opinion.

    My flock in general is fairly healthy, and many live good long lives. I prefer to not complicate my chicken keeping. Too much fussing can take the joy out of it I think.
  3. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Obesity shouldn't be an issue if you're feeding chicken feed and not providing too many fatty snacks like scratch and BOSS.

    I really don't clean out my feeders or waterers much. If a feeder is meant for dry feed I just shake out any dust. Fermented feed bowls I will scrub out and rinse out between uses. I don't clean my waterer beyond just rinsing it for any debris, as I don't get algae growth (since you mentioned algae concerns). An opaque waterer kept in the shade should not have algae build up.
    Jemma Rider likes this.
  4. imnukensc

    imnukensc Songster

    May 22, 2017
    SC Midlands
    I'm not certain why you (or anyone, really) would want to put chickens on a vegetarian diet. Chickens are naturally omnivorous and since you free range they're eating non vegetarian whether or not you put vegetarian feed in the feeder. As to the "organic" part of their diet---again, since you free range and unless the area they're free ranging is certified organic, then it really doesn't matter.

    Keeping your waterers in the shade will help with keeping the algae growth down. If you're on a municipal water supply, there's almost a 100% chance you already have bleach (chlorine/clorox) in your water so using a dilute bleach solution to clean your feeders is no problem at all. I'm on well water. No chlorine/clorox in my water at all. I have absolutely no problem with algae in my waterer. It is in the shade. I put about 10 copper pennies (USA before 1982) in my 5 gallon waterer. In over a year, I've cleaned it once if you consider totally emptying it and rinsing (no scrubbing) it cleaning. It didn't need it. I only did it to satisfy my wife.

    Just my experience and my thoughts. It seems people over think this feeding/watering chickens way too much. YMMV.
  5. Jemma Rider

    Jemma Rider Songster

    Nov 25, 2017
    oh with the vegetarian thing, i don't eat meat personally, i don't mind it if the birds eat bugs and such but i don't want animals to be in their feed, i need to do more research into what is actually in chicken feed first of course. And the only vegetarian feed they sell at my feed store is also organic so i don't really have a choice there but i figure it can't hurt (as i said i need to do more research).
    I just hate the algae, and i don't want my birds to get sick because of unclean waters and feeders, I'm just a very paranoid person. thank you :D
  6. Jemma Rider

    Jemma Rider Songster

    Nov 25, 2017
    Oh that's good, i don't feed many treats (besides a handful of cracked corn before they sleep on the coldest days of winter). Other then the occasional table scraps they live off feed and whatever they eat in the yard.
    I'm still super excited my run now has an amazing looking tin roof, today is the birds first day with the new expansion, but since it's now covered I'm hoping there won't be much algae. Thank you!
  7. llombardo

    llombardo Crowing

    Mar 11, 2018
    I just brought in two watereers because of algae. I have them soaking in regular water. I thought I was the only one with that issue, since I've never really saw anyone talk about it. I kind of thought that some algae might not be bad for them either. The ducks pool is an algae magnet. I scrub that with a brush once a week. I try not looking at it because it would bother me and I would be out there every day cleaning it--it does not seem to effect them. I have feeders I made that are tubes. I keep them filled up and they are covered at night. I give mine kale, parsley, cilantro. I used to cut it up, but now I just throw it out there and they like it better that way. Keeps them busy. They get scratch one a week. Mealworms a couple times a week. Most snacks are healthy. They didn't like Rice Krispies and they are ok with Cheerios, but they prefer the greens.
    to BarbsGirls and Jemma Rider like this.
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2016
    California's Redwood Coast
    Agreed... I scrub my water dishes with a brush when they get green. But ACV speeds up algae (or some other type) of growth with my well water. I also don;t worry about fermenting or acv added in. Our bodies have a a microbiome that they maintain. We are full inhabited by bacteria both good and bad. They achieve a balance under normal conditions. Plus many feeds have probiotics added in already.

    I did ferment for 2 years, no significant changes when I stopped. I still do it as a treat, because I think it's fun and most the birds do enjoy it. Yes, I believe acv is over rated and over used... nothing should be supplemented more than 10 days in a row.

    I get algae, my birds have never gotten sick from it. Algae shows the water can support life IMO.

    Purina flock raiser is vegetarian as far as know. MOST feeds available to me are vegetarian. I have to go out of my way to find one that isn't. The amino acids NEEDED by chickens from an animal source are added into the feeds to make them complete. They aren't actually killing animals JUST to put on our chicken feed. Most everything that goes into animal feeds is not fit for human consumption and is just byproducts. :sick

    Why then? Were you told it helps keep them warm? Is not your feed already made of mostly corn? That is an old wives tell. Calories plain and simple provide energy for the bird to keep itself warm via internal processes. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie... Corn is low in nutrients and doesn't have the added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids of our formulated ration. Since you are worried about obesity... skip buying the corn after this is gone.

    Congrats on your new cover. :wee It WILL make a difference! :thumbsup
  9. Jemma Rider

    Jemma Rider Songster

    Nov 25, 2017
    Oh okay, i read somewhere that the corn is harder to digest so it helps produce more body heat (or something like that i read this a long time ago). I don't have any of it on hand right now, last i bought it was February last year and it molded really quickly, at the time it was below zero and i just wanted to give the birds extra help. They ultimately didn't like it any more then things like lettuce so i decided not to buy it again until the coldest days of winter come again but if it really doesn't help I'd be glad not to waste my money.
    alright, i know the one I'm using now has beef in it and whey, i can't remember the brand. I wanted to start feeding something from dumor i liked their chick starter, but as i said i need to do more research before i make any concrete decisions on feed.
    Thank you:D
  10. AA Maple

    AA Maple Chirping

    Apr 29, 2015
    I can't imagine any laying breeds getting obese if they can free range. Also they really enjoy eating meat and I think they're not designed to be vegetarian. I've seen chickens chase down mice and eat them. I wonder if the "meat" products used in commercial feed isn't just something like bone meal for calcium? Compared to the cost of grains pound for pound it doesn't seem really economical to use any meat product in bird food.
    to BarbsGirls and Jemma Rider like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: