They won't eat their veggies

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by erinbabyrn, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. erinbabyrn

    erinbabyrn New Egg

    Sep 8, 2016
    We are very new to having chickens. We choose to raise a backyard flock when our son developed a severe intolerance to histamine....allergic to most foods.... BUT he can eat fresh eggs. Eggs no more that 48 hours old totally non-processed are a hard find in surburban Orange County SO we got special permission from our nighboorhood HOA and city to have 4 chickens, in our backyard, for health reasons.

    We love our babies! They are graduated to the coop all day and night now. We are working on their run area. and looking forward to having eggs in a few weeks BUT they won't eat anything but their crumble feed and watermelon with a bit of grit sprinkled on it. and mealworms and every bug that dares to fly in the coop.

    Everything we read said to feed them greens and lots of it to have the best healthiest eggs. Kale, broccoli, spinach. Put it in the cute ball thingie.... nothing. They won't eat any veggies. Today I grated apples without the seeds, banana and cut up tomato. nope nope nope.

    It's like feeding a toddler. BUT I'm a little bummed we don't have grass fed chickens or natural fed birds....... is there a way to bribe them to eat their veggies??? We cut up watermelon and freeze into ice cubes and I thought of slipping some greens in that but I think they will peck around it.

  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Hi Erin. Your birds sound young and sometimes until they "learn" to eat other things they seem picky. I think they'll come around. My younger ones ignored tomatoes until the day they didn't. Now they follow up from the garden waiting for a handout. Same with cukes and melons. You could short them a little on their regular food. As the saying goes, "Hunger is the best sauce." It might induce them to try the veggies and they will find they like them and problem solved.
  3. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015

    Agree with all of this. There's always been a lag between introduction and adoption of new feedstuffs for me.

    I've found giving the veg before I hang feeders in the morning a good option. They're hungry, crops are empty, and will peck at new items out of frustration as much as anything. Then you can almost see the light go on. Peck peck, hey, this is food.

    Once they figure out that the when you put something in there it's so they can eat it, they stop questioning you.

    To date the only thing they haven't really enjoyed is fresh beets. Melons, cukes, tomatoes, greens of all sorts, zucchini, carrots, pumpkins, sunflower heads, peppers, all get demolished.

    They. Are. Swine.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    A broody hen would teach her chicks to eat things like that. Your chicks have to learn on their own. I’m assuming they are still young since they are not yet laying, but that really doesn’t matter. I toss a lot of different stuff from my garden and orchard to my flock in season. These are mostly things that you read about on here that are such great treats. Sometimes the adults go crazy for it immediately, sometimes they pretty much ignore it. Cabbage is one that they tend to ignore for a while but it usually winds up eaten if they can’t find something better. Cabbage is one you read about a lot on here.

    Your chickens sound perfectly normal. Just be patient and keep offering the stuff. Eventually they will probably learn to eat it. Probably.

    Chickens need a balanced diet, a balance of protein, fiber, fats, minerals, vitamins, and other stuff. There is a fairly wide range of how much of these they need, you don’t need to micromanage every bite that goes into their mouth. But if you are feeding them everything they eat, you do not want to feed them more than about 10% of things that are not their basic chicken feed. The greens you are talking about are packed with certain nutrients, but if they eat so much of those greens or other treats they are not getting enough of some of the other basic nutrients they need. Chicken feed fulfills the balanced diet requirement. It has the nutrients they need in the proportions they need to grow healthy. Moderation is the key.

    I’m all in favor of supplementing the chicken feed with other stuff, I do it myself. I like the eggs better when they get some of that other stuff. But “lots of” the other stuff is not the term I’d use. A limited amount of those other things and a variety of those other things is more likely to give you healthy chickens that lay some nice healthy eggs. Did you know that egg yolks are about 1/3 fat? They are not going to get enough fats to make nice egg yolks if they don’t get enough fats in their diet. They need all of the nutrients, not just a few.

    A rule of thumb you often see on here is to feed them no more treats than they can clean up in 10 to 20 minutes. That way you assure those things don’t exceed the 10% of their diet. I pretty much ignore that though. When I clean out the garden and toss something in the run it might be a lot. It could last into the next day. But I don’t keep throwing the same stuff in there day after day after day. I mix it up, kale one day, tomatoes the next. You don’t have to micromanage that 10% just give them a variety.

    Congratulations on going to bat for your son and winning. But relax, it sounds like you are doing fine.
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