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Supplementing Free Range Chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tomcatbubba, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. tomcatbubba

    tomcatbubba Chirping

    Jun 16, 2010
    Hi all. I have about 30 hens free range pasturing during the day on about 40 acres of clover, fescue and all the bugs they can eat (currently going through a huge grasshopper hatch so thick they make the sky brown). Is it OK if I give them a little Purina Layena at night just to supplement the calcium and other trace minerals they may be missing. I'm thinking of just enough thrown on the ground near their coop to get them back to the house and to scratch around for about 5 minutes or so.

    Thanks in advance!

    On a side note, my first order of Blue Slate Turkeys show up tomorrow....[​IMG]

  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My free range birds have layer feed in their coop available at all times. We also have the grasshopper thing going on, which the baby chicks discovered yesterday much to their delight.
    I also keep oyster shell available outside the coop. The girls know where it is.
  3. tomcatbubba

    tomcatbubba Chirping

    Jun 16, 2010
    I've been keeping layer mash in the house as well but the little buggars are lazy and go into the house to eat during the day so I'm trying to force a little more free-ranging into their daily routine.......I'm thinking of stopping filling the feeders unless I am gone for a few days and just supplementing at night. Think it would work?
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I think so, but I'm not positive. I like to think of the layer feed as an insurance policy. Yes, my birds get plenty to eat free ranging, except in the winter months of course, but if one has a bad day foraging I like knowing that they have something in their crop before bedtime. So making sure they have food at roost time should work.
  5. Organics North

    Organics North Songster

    Dec 30, 2009
    Wisconsin Northwoods
    I free range the birds from dawn to dusk. I still offer unlimited mash in the coop 24x7 and free choice oyster shells. I figure the birds know best..

    Maybe leave them hungry just in the am for a few weeks, but then go back to the 24x7 availability? Personally at night I would give them all they want to eat.
  6. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    I did what you're doing for a long time. And i may do it again.

    But lemme tell you what happened.

    It seems that chickens can survive just fine (specifically in the summertime) on nothing but the free ranging. But they'll also take normal cycles a little harder. I say so because i was doing what you said you are doing for a long time - months even. But then when the heat got pretty dramatic, and at about the same time, my girls went through a mini-molt, they all but stopped laying. I was getting 2 eggs a day from 20 layers.

    When i started feeding them their regular feed again - well more plentifully - i got my eggs back. I got 16 the other day and 13 today.

    So you have to take into account that stressors will affect them more dramatically if they're chiefly responsible for their own nourishment. Just something to think about.
  7. hcammack

    hcammack Crowing

    Oct 5, 2007
    I always offer free choice layer feed even though I free range my flock. Then again my birds are show birds so I feel I have to keep them in the best condition possible. I do feel that birds that are fed free choice layer feed will produce much better then birds that are forced to find there own food. Game fowl can survive much better then the production or duel purpose breeds can.


  8. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Songster

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    We free range from dawn till they go in at night. The run and man door are left open and they go in for commercial feed off and on all day.
  9. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Songster

    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    Wow!!! Sounds like your birds are living in chicken heaven!!!!

    Still...I would at least throw them some laying pellets at the end of the day.
  10. zazouse

    zazouse Crowing

    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    I am totally free range but still leave food down 24/7 some breeds i have here like production reds and cochins are more like free loaders, they forage some but nothing like my RIR or JG 's.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010

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