sticking to free range & avoiding laying feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by witchwriter, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. witchwriter

    witchwriter Out Of The Brooder

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    i haven't put my ladies on feed since we brought them home and they finished their starter feed. we rent a house in the midst of about 200 acres of which my girls stay within about a 3 acre range to forage. there are so many protein sources like frogs, lizards, bugs in general they are getting plenty of protein and are growing normally. my family thinks if i feed them laying feed they will magically start laying eggs. i can't make them understand it doesn't work that way.

    we introduced cracked corn about 2 weeks ago and the ladies are not especially fond of it so today i started a sour mash hoping they will like it that way. i really want yellow/orange egg yolks ;) i have explained til i am blue in the face that laying feed just has different vitamins to prepare them for laying and that they are getting all that from foraging.

    anybody else the only one refusing to feed store bought vs. foraging and catching flack from your family and please share how you are handling it. my ladies are healthy with shiny coats and even a bit of sass. they are definitely not complaining other than preferring sunflower seed to cracked corn. I just don't want all the "extras" that come in processed feed because these gals will be meat birds after they stop producing eggs. i really don't want it in my eggs either. any suggestions would be great. thanks.

    deb
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Laying feed doesn't even have different vitamins, it is only higher in calcium and shouldn't be started until they actually lay. Layer feed doesn't stimulate laying. It just replaces the calcium pulled from the medullary bone to build an egg shell. If anything feed wise would stimulate it would be more protein not calcium. Protein (and a hundred other things) is needed for ovulation. Corn is low in protein (about 10%) and sunflower seed is closer to the protein needed by the birds (about 15%) as well as having more vitamins.

    The dark yolks come from the hens' inability to assimilate carotenoids which end up in the yolk. Greens and yellow things will provide that.

    That said, unless you live where it is warm and there is pristine pasture 12 months out of the year, you'll eventually have to provide a prepared chicken feed.
     
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Well, that's interesting! :) I'm wondering where you live. Here in Ohio, we could never do that because when winter comes, there is nothing for them to eat. I provide a layer feed, but also allow my flock of 14 to free range after I get home from work. They do eat less of the layer feed in the summer.

    I guess I would let my family know that the chickens are healthy and at a good weight, so it must be fine. Did you know that in Hawaii, chickens run wild? And they seem to be fine.

    I do understand you wanting to keep their food more natural. Glad you're able to do it successfully.
     
  4. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Overrun With Chickens

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    You could always mix your own organic feed if your worried about too many additives. I'm sure for now you could feed whatever you'd like, but when they start laying they're going to need a calcium source. Layer feed has more calcium than starter, but you may want to consider oyster shell as well.

    We offer the feeds free choice, but it really only gets eaten in winter when there's nothing left outside.
     
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  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Another question for the OP. How old are the pullets?
     
  6. witchwriter

    witchwriter Out Of The Brooder

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    they are 16+ weeks. we live in central florida so our winters are very mild and there are bugs and other proteins year round. in the winter i will probably support their protein with a variety of lightly boiled legumes and a variety of grains and seeds like we do the parrots. fresh veggies are always available year round here too. i keep the parrots on a good diet and the chickens will just mean bigger batches of daily feed. they will always have table scraps too and we are meat eaters.

    deb
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Your family needs to know that whatever feed they get, eggs won't be forthcoming for 4-8 weeks minimum.
     
  8. witchwriter

    witchwriter Out Of The Brooder

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    i keep telling them.... tell them when their combs and such come all the way out then maybe it will happen.... i tell them they are not old enough yet..... i am the one doing all the studying and they know everything :p can you tell this is my first flock :)

    deb
     
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  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote: Chickens are different than parrots and there nutritional need are very different.
    Also keep in mind that there is more to a animals diet than just "protein". Yes proteins and more importantly the types of proteins are important but the fats, minerals, vitamins, energy and type of energy etc. all come into play. If your going to feed grains and seed why not do it the right way and feed a good poultry feed. Your birds will be a lot healthier.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Good for you for studying.

    Good points
     

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