They act like they are starving to death (feeding enough?)

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by teach619, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. teach619

    teach619 Out Of The Brooder

    I have 16 birds now (1 rooster, 11 hens, 4 guinea). They have a 12 pound feeder in one coop and each day I put 2 feed in a bowl in the run (1-2 guinea are stuck in the run every day - it's the only way I can keep all 4 from running away.) They free range during the day - when it's light out and we always give them treats/scraps each day.

    When they see us - they come racing over. Heck, they've learned what the alarm sounds like when the door is opened and they will come running when they hear that.

    I know they are coming because we typically give them treats (scratch, dried worms, or fruit and veggies minced up for the compost.)

    But I'm wondering if they're hungry. With it being winter, I know they aren't finding bugs like they used to. And I have/do see them eat from the feeder in the coop... I haven't seen ALL of them eat from it, but typically each morning when I let them out I will see one or two of them stay inside and eat from the feeder while the rest come running out to follow me around.

    I keep telling myself they are like any other animal - they will eat when they are hungry... and since the feeder isn't empty, they aren't starving.


    Should I be more concerned about the decrease in bugs/free range stuff for them to eat? Or if there is feed in the feeder for them - should I not worry?

    (I know you'll ask how often I refill the feeder and to be honest I couldn't give an honest/accurate answer. I check it each day and when it gets low, I refill it. I know I refilled it last Saturday - 8 days ago - and there is still some feed left in it. It looks like I will need to refill it in another day or two.)
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    If it is cold where you are located, interest picks up in feed not only because forage is harder to find as you noted, it is also of lower quality. Additionally they have an increased need for energy when it gets cold which can cause an obvious increase in feed intake. During winter some of my more flight capable birds will fly to get food.

    Have you considered putting out feeding stations with something like whole corn, BOSS or scratch? Feeding stations can help with meeting energy needs yet allow monitoring of quality feed intake where it occurs now.
  3. teach619

    teach619 Out Of The Brooder

    I haven't thought about it partly because I hadn't heard of it :)

    Really, we can't put feed out for them in other areas because we have three crazy goats that always manage to get out of their pen and get to the feed. We have tried putting bowls/feeders out with treats before - but the goats see them, get out, and then eat it all. And it's really bad for the goats to eat that stuff. That's why the only feed we have is in the chicken run and in the coop. Darn goats.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Scratch grains, BOSS and whole corn should not be a problem for goats if not consumed in excess. You could also present such items in a creep feeder setup to bar goats. Another option is to simply broadcast feed on ground which what I do to control social strife among free-ranging birds. Goats will get some but not all.
  5. ChickChick55

    ChickChick55 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2012
    UK - Wales
    All | can say is that our chickens all run to the gate when they hear the back door open, no matter if we have just fed them a treat. They seem to love the treats and will eat and eat them. they too always seem hungry. The pellets are there all day, for them, but due to pecking order, when big bird eats, the other two move away, then go back when she has finished. Im sure they are just greedy, thats why they always seem so keen for the treats.
  6. Sue331828

    Sue331828 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 26, 2012
    Mine react the same way. The food in the pen creeps down each day. It is cold here new and I give them oatmeal with yoghurt, maybe banana, apples(they love the oatmeal). I am struggling with other treats. Any ideas?
  7. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like they have you well trained..... If there is feed left... They are not starving.....
  8. teach619

    teach619 Out Of The Brooder

    Sue, when I started this I was worried about not having enough compost type stuff to give them. I am a teacher and I was actually teaching my kids about recycling and composting so they would save their scraps from lunch for my birds :)

    I find now that I do have quite a bit each day that I can give them and I'm just a single mom with 2 kids (and a renter) so apparently we eat too much :)

    Here are things that I can remember that we've put in our compost bucket this week (which means the chickens get it)
    cucumber peels
    apple and pear cores
    tomato insides (like wet part with the seeds)
    tomato scraps (the brown part where the stem was)
    crust from toast
    pizza crust my kids won't eat
    scraps from the pan after making scrambled eggs
    a few pasta noodles that weren't eaten
    chips that my son insisted he bring home from a Mexican restaurant
    graham cracker crumbs
    stale cereal
    anything left over from fruit - bananas (they don't eat the peel), berries, etc.

    ALL of the veggies I have learned to chop up into smaller pieces. They have an easier time eating them if they are cut into dime size (or smaller) pieces rather than throwing a whole stalk of celery out there...

    At this point I tend to throw everything out there and they decide what they want to eat and what they don't want to eat. Between the chickens and the guinea, they tend to eat just about anything.

    I know that you aren't suppose to give them onions or potatoes. I also know that you want to be careful about things that are too salty or too sugary. AND I avoid chocolate simply because I think that's bad for all animals (I know it is for dogs and such.)

    Hope that helps :)
  9. teach619

    teach619 Out Of The Brooder

    Now that I think about it, the birds that I've seen staying in the coop to eat each morning tend to be the smaller ones. I have one silkie mix that is smaller than everyone else and I notice that she and an Easter Egger tend to be pushed aside even when I pass out treats. I tend to sneak some to them when no one is looking :)

    Thank you - I guess I just wanted other people to confirm this for me :)
  10. teach619

    teach619 Out Of The Brooder

    One other thing - have you heard of the Chicken Chick? someone told me about her and I've since subscribed to her blog and liked her on FB because she does share good information...

    This link is on making a block for the chickens - we did make two a month or so ago and I keep telling myself to make more.

    This one is two the block and another thing about treats

    I have read this person say NOT to give scraps and such, but everything else I read says it is fine. So it's up to you :)

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