Think I messed up raising my chickens....now what do I do???

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JKCASWELL, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. JKCASWELL

    JKCASWELL Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 31, 2009
    So, here is the situation. April 1st of this year, I bought some day old chicks, RIR, Orps, Australorps and Aracauna. I fed them the Starter food until they were 12 weeks old....which was what I was told to do at the feed store, then switched them over to layer pellets 16%, again which I was told to do. I have a 4 year old daughter and the babysitter has a 4 year old daughter, so all summer long, the kids would give them a lot of scratch during the day...guesstimating about 3-5 pounds per day for 10 chickens and 1 year old rooster. Needless to say, the amount of the pellets they ate was minimal. Then comes gardening time of year, and since we of course grow more than we eat and why waste it when the chickens want it...threw all the extras to them. They barely ate any pellets from July-September.....I bought 1 bag that entire time. I didn't think what it was doing for them developmentally, as they are in beautiful feather, great weight, full of energy, etc. So they are now roughly 34 weeks old...don't quote me on that, I am so bad with math...not a one of them have laid an egg..and they are under lights. I could care less if they lay eggs, as they are more my daughters pets, but she goes out there every morning and night, looking for an egg, and asks me why the chickens "are broke", lol. So what's my next step? How do I get them right nutritionally, with the bad upbringing I have provided them with? I do realize it isn't the best time of year for them to start, but I need to give my girls all the help I can give them for Springtime! I am prepared to just go buy a few dozen eggs, and trick my daughter if need be, until then

    Any help will be so greatly appreciated! Wish I would have came across BYC Forum long ago.....think my hens would have appreciated that also
     
  2. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    I'd cut back on the scratch (maybe only a couple times a week or just a lot less each day?), but the veggies, etc are perfectly fine. [​IMG] They need 14 hrs of light a day to lay, so depending on how long you leave the light on will make a difference. I don't supplement light so I have a number of birds that will not lay again until next March or so. If you are getting "broke" eggs, it is likely from too little calcium. Plus, their first eggs are usually weaker while their bodies are learning how to lay. You can either cut out the scratch a bit or get them some crushed oyster shells to get more calcium in their system.
     
  3. BirdMom

    BirdMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 15, 2009
    Quit feeding them scratch, and put them on a good layer crumble. We feed ours flock raiser because we've also got ducks and guineas. Giving them the stuff from the garden is healthy and fine. A bit of scratch occasionally as a treat is fine, but if you want them in better health and laying, give them the stuff they need. Also as someone else mentioned make sure they've got oyster shell available 24/7 to help them in laying. I'll bet within weeks of switching them to the layer feed they'll be presenting you with lovely delicious eggs. [​IMG]
     
  4. melissa508

    melissa508 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    ma
    when I first got into birds I fed them nothing but scratch ..lol..I didnt know any better, its what my neibors down south used & I did the same. Eventually i learned about their nutritional needs. Needless to say, from Java green peacocks, ducks, guineas & chickens..everyone turned out fine.

    Sometimes I get a batch of spring hatch babies that dont lay until the following spring, but they usually will start laying around march. Even roosters from these slow maturing hatches wont breed until the following spring. Right now I have cochins,silkies & modern game who are just starting to act ready..they should have laid or bred months ago. I dont know why this happens, but its frustrating..especially when you have a geogeous silkie rooster who youve been dying to breed lol
     
  5. pixie74943

    pixie74943 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2009
    Adelaide, Australia
    Teach your daughter about the nutritional needs, as much as you can for her age. And ask her to give them either pellets as treats, or 50/50 pellets and scratch. The chickens will still be excited about snacking, things that come from hands are always yummier, and they're nutrition will balance out.

    And your chooks probably havent laid cause they're happily plump :) Less Scratch, More Pellets, and maybe even some hanging lettuce/cabbage for extra exercise, and you should have eggs soon :)
     
  6. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    I'm a newbie myself, but I don't think you "broke" your pullets - maybe they're just slow to lay?

    The only scratch feed I give my girls is black oil sunflower seeds (and the occasional handful of raisins = chicken crack). That way they get something healthy to scratch for and your daughter could still enjoy feeding her birds.

    They are about 9 months old now and the production birds - Delawares & Black Stars - are still laying almost daily (2-4 eggs from 5 pullets), while the foofy Houdan quit laying about a month ago.
     
  7. chickenpluckeroo7

    chickenpluckeroo7 Out Of The Brooder

    I feed my chicks nothing but start and grow chick feed for the first 3 and a half months. I will give them some greens after about 8 weeks. I have been told not to give them lay n mash until about four months because it has calcium which could cause trouble for a developing young chicken. Seems to work very well for me using this method. Chickenplucker
     
  8. farrier!

    farrier! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2009
    Southern Illinois
    I have neighbors who feed nothing but scratch and others who feed nothing but cracked corn.

    My first birds are just a few days younger then yours. They are just starting to lay. The ones 3-5 weeks younger have not started yet. I stayed away from the production breeds and it seems the odd breeds do take longer.
     
  9. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Yeah, scratch will just make them fat... they'll eat pellets/crumbles before they starve to death.... but it won't seem like it at first.
     
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    They sound like happy birds- light and balanced nutrition should *fix* them.
    If you understand that the legs and pelvis are the source of the calcium ( medullary complex) and that they require a balance of calcium with Vitamins B, D and E to trigger the egg laying mechanism along with 14 hours of light ( most natural and a little extra maybe in the morning with a layer light), you'll be able to switch them gradually to more layer feed along with the usual treats, in moderation. Plant enzymes are great in winter, assuming they have their balanced ration and their grit and ground oyster shell...[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009

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