They completely ignored the fruits/veggies

Richard Pryor

Songster
May 17, 2017
179
92
108
Today I went to the local fruit/veggie vendor and they gave me a bunch of stuff they were gonna throw away. Tomatoes, apples, romaine, spinach, cucumber, cabbage. I thought I hit the jackpot because my intention was to feed my chickens scraps and worms instead of commercial feed. They said I can come whenever and get more.

I put the food outside and they completely ignored it! I didn't give them feed the whole day, then I heard them making noise and every time I went outside they would follow me and stare at me with a "feed me" look. So I gave them chick feed and they went nuts.

They are 6-7 week old chicks more or less I think. Never really started counting.

Is this an acquired taste? Do they need to be older to start eating fruits/veggies? Should I stop feeding them commercial feed so that they're hungry and have no choice but to eat the veggies?

They go crazy for mealworms.
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
Today I went to the local fruit/veggie vendor and they gave me a bunch of stuff they were gonna throw away. Tomatoes, apples, romaine, spinach, cucumber, cabbage. I thought I hit the jackpot because my intention was to feed my chickens scraps and worms instead of commercial feed. They said I can come whenever and get more.

I put the food outside and they completely ignored it! I didn't give them feed the whole day, then I heard them making noise and every time I went outside they would follow me and stare at me with a "feed me" look. So I gave them chick feed and they went nuts.

They are 6-7 week old chicks more or less I think. Never really started counting.

Is this an acquired taste? Do they need to be older to start eating fruits/veggies? Should I stop feeding them commercial feed so that they're hungry and have no choice but to eat the veggies?

They go crazy for mealworms.
They may not be acquainted with them as 'food' yet. But at any rate, their feed is balanced for their nutritional needs. The fruits and veggies are great for extra, added, etc. But not a replacement for feed! Best is the feed, next best is as much forage as they can get, then treats.

Truth be told, mine don't care for fruit much, but love most veggies!
 

Richard Pryor

Songster
May 17, 2017
179
92
108
Hi @Mace Gill.
One thing I read a lot here is that scraps should “make up no more than about 10% of a chicken’s food intake to ensure that their diet is primarily composed of a nutritionally balanced feed.”

This sounds textbook what feed companies preach so that you buy their product. Same with dogs. What do you think is better for a dog, dry dog food made in labs or a healthy raw diet mimicking what they would eat in the wild?

What happened before Purina started selling feed a few decades ago? Were all chickens unhealthy and starving?

Now I agree that chickens (dogs/humans/etc) would benefit from a balanced diet. If you only have access to tomatoes, then it’s probably a good idea to give your chicken commercial feed.

But if you have access to a bunch of different scraps (and they can free range), I don’t see why you’d need to feed them commercial feed. Let alone 90% of their intake.
 

djunafarms

Chirping
Mar 26, 2017
82
31
56
Dallas, TX
My chicks did the exact same thing when I started trying to give them fresh treats at around 6 weeks! I kept trying. They are 11 weeks now and just starting to recognize all the yummy scraps I give them as food. I'd keep trying when they're a few weeks older, and you'll learn the things they go crazy for. Mine are really starting to like fruits and veggies and seeds and grains.
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
Hi @Mace Gill.
One thing I read a lot here is that scraps should “make up no more than about 10% of a chicken’s food intake to ensure that their diet is primarily composed of a nutritionally balanced feed.”

This sounds textbook what feed companies preach so that you buy their product. Same with dogs. What do you think is better for a dog, dry dog food made in labs or a healthy raw diet mimicking what they would eat in the wild?

What happened before Purina started selling feed a few decades ago? Were all chickens unhealthy and starving?

Now I agree that chickens (dogs/humans/etc) would benefit from a balanced diet. If you only have access to tomatoes, then it’s probably a good idea to give your chicken commercial feed.

But if you have access to a bunch of different scraps (and they can free range), I don’t see why you’d need to feed them commercial feed. Let alone 90% of their intake.
Yeah, I know ... but the feed works. In fact, just recently I cut back on treats and the treats I've been giving, I've cut back on the grains. More feed and more forage, and the results in laying are promising. Now, forage is another matter ... they ARE then getting much more of the natural diet they want, all the buts and everything, and the more area you have for them to range, the more diversity, the time out to do it the better ... and they do go through less feed in the process. Scraps are okay, treats are okay, the diversity in the diet is great ... but the feed works. For me, I go organic. But there are quality differences in that as well.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Sep 29, 2014
7,682
22,222
941
New Zealand
You could try chopping some of the fruit and veg up finely and mixing it with their normal feed in their normal feeder. Then they might try it by accident.
 

jennyf

Songster
Apr 24, 2016
440
142
121
Missouri
I don't agree with the 10% (and I totally hear ya on animal feed companies--of course they're going to promote their extruded pelleted feeds and stress that non-commercial feeds are inferior and don't provide adequate nutrition). But there's a middle ground too. I swear I read it here, but can't seem to find the thread--it was a post that talked about how 100 years ago when people kept chickens, of course they free ranged, but they got meat. The post noted that it was often the smaller kids responsibility to hunt squirrels and other little critters to feed to the chickens. Chickens also got to pick over carcasses of larger animals after butchering. Interesting post if it's true. I don't free range mine, and I do feed a lot of scraps (prob close to 20% of diet) but I don't skimp on the meat scraps in proportion the the vegetables, otherwise I worry that they wouldn't be getting enough protein. Also will be times (depending on your climate) when free range pickings will be slim. Keep trying--mine weren't too interested in vegetables when they were tiny. You might try some meat scraps, actually--that's what mine go most bonkers for!
 

jennyf

Songster
Apr 24, 2016
440
142
121
Missouri
Oh, and we also don't know how long those hens of 100 years ago were living, or how many eggs they laid each year, or egg quality. Something to think about! ;)
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
I don't agree with the 10% (and I totally hear ya on animal feed companies--of course they're going to promote their extruded pelleted feeds and stress that non-commercial feeds are inferior and don't provide adequate nutrition). But there's a middle ground too. I swear I read it here, but can't seem to find the thread--it was a post that talked about how 100 years ago when people kept chickens, of course they free ranged, but they got meat. The post noted that it was often the smaller kids responsibility to hunt squirrels and other little critters to feed to the chickens. Chickens also got to pick over carcasses of larger animals after butchering. Interesting post if it's true. I don't free range mine, and I do feed a lot of scraps (prob close to 20% of diet) but I don't skimp on the meat scraps in proportion the the vegetables, otherwise I worry that they wouldn't be getting enough protein. Also will be times (depending on your climate) when free range pickings will be slim. Keep trying--mine weren't too interested in vegetables when they were tiny. You might try some meat scraps, actually--that's what mine go most bonkers for!
Fish and or beans for mine once a week (for treats with protein) ... and occasional scrap bones ... always have a LITTLE meat, marrow, or gristle on them! Even ... dare I say ... chicken bones.
 

Taote

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
128
309
136
Kentucky
Its important to me our girls and guy get good nutrition - but I believe they can discern, to some degree, what to eat when.

We free feed age appropriate organic feed (as well as grit - they eat, and oyster shell, they don't eat so much) inside and outside the coop, and the girls free range, generally choosing to stay within half an acre of the coop - some wooded, some garden, some open field.

We feed them scraps, whatever we have - that includes fruits, vegetables, and sometimes leftover meat (tho most of that goes to our two puppy dogs). Initially we had to chop it well, then less so over time.

I don't monitor how much food we go through, though I wince when the can gets low and it's time to buy more.

I feel that free choice ensures they will get optimal nutrition. With 21 birds, the large plateful of leftovers every or every other day goes FAST, and they RUN to the forest or garden pathways every morning first thing to scratch up and devour bugs. I see them eating clover and plants that have gone to seed, and I let them raid a few of the herb patches occasionally too.

People have recommended against free feeding saying they'd just eat constantly but that hasn't been the case with our flock. They spend a lot of time chasing flying critters, snuggling in the tall grasses or woods, napping on roosts under the coop, sipping water, and sometimes eating at the outdoor feeders. And they follow us around a lot too, just to see what we're up to.

They have grown well, seem happy and healthy, and hopefully we'll see eggs in the next month : )

A dozen eggs goes for $4 at the local farmers markets, so that'll help pay for feed going forward.
 

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