Treats v. feed

SoCalChickenista

In the Brooder
Nov 26, 2018
10
12
23
I know I shouldn't be giving my chickens more than 10% of their nutrition in treats.

I give them kitchen scraps which are primarily vegetable, shredded cabbage, leftovers of my cat's canned food and the occasional BOSS and meal worms. Not all of this all the time, of course, but something or other from the list most days. The thing is, I have NO idea how much feed they eat. So how do I estimate if they're doing their part by eating the other 90% in feed?

I have to top off their primary feeder every couple days. They pick at the big 20# feeders but those aren't their favs so I only top them off once a month or so.

My chickens don't look fat to me but then I'm not sure I trust my guess. So how do I know????
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
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How many chickens do you have? Have you weighed them? Felt their keel bone?

I'm going to guess that they are eating more "treats" than their feed. I used to feed my girls nutritious treats 2x day; veggies, fruits, some leftovers, BOSS & MW. Then I read & was reassured that treats in moderation is ok but too much no matter how nutritious, was diluting the needed nutrition from their feed. I weighed them & they weren't up to what their weight for their breed should be, their keel bone was quite pronounced & they weren't eating they feed.

I stopped all treats, all they got was their fermented feed (Flock Raiser) ... Soon there were eating & put on weight, keel bone not so pronounced. I have only 4BO & they are confined so at close up, I started a measure of 1/8 cup BOSS & 1/8 cup MW & 1/8 dry crumbles tossed on the ground. That's all they get now.
 

SoCalChickenista

In the Brooder
Nov 26, 2018
10
12
23
I have 7. I thought the danger was that they'd get fat not that they'd be undernourished. What did I know? I've only been at this about 18 months or so.

I have never felt their keel bones and I'm not sure how they should properly feel.

They're all pretty strapping girls and one impressive roo. They've more or less knocked off laying since I don't light their coop. But until we started getting shorter days I got about 5 eggs per week from the 2 that are mature enough to lay so that sorta seems to indicate that they were in good form to me.
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
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I thought treat would get them fat too but I could not figure out how to "measure out" 10% :rolleyes: There is a post with picture about the keel, I can't find it but it's here somewhere, will keep looking for it. You maybe doing fine, I'm no expert just reflecting my own experience.

Yes, shorter days will slow their egg laying down. I don't use light cause figure their bodies can us the rest plus my girls are "Pet with Benefits".
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
9,060
12,855
967
The Big Island/Hawaii
Found this but there's another, hope it helps some ...
I'm "technically challenged" per my daughter & can't figure out how to paste a link. So if you search in the "Obese, well fed, and starting hens in the same flock" Post #6 is another chart.

Chickens - Body Condition.jpg
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
I know I shouldn't be giving my chickens more than 10% of their nutrition in treats.
Firstly, it depends what you call treats.
If your chickens free range how can you tell what percentage of what they eat?
The 10% guideline is really only relevant to chickens that are contained in a coop, or run.
The horror stories one can read on various chicken sites regarding the importance of feeding your chickens a particular diet need very careful examination. I've found some of the most outrageously biased so called research on what happened when chickens got fed this, or that.
What can make chickens ill is a sudden change in diet.
Chickens are omnivorous. The majority of commercial feeds are vegetable and grain base. Vegan chickens?
A full and varied diet is the best recommendation, it's how you achieve that.
There are some foods that are not particularly good for chickens and a few others that are poisonous, obviously you should avoid those. In the US there is a feed called scratch.
It seems this is high carbohydrate feed, you shouldn't give your chickens this imo. There are lots of alternatives to scratch that are far better for your chickens, kitchen scraps for example unless you eat processed food.
 

SoCalChickenista

In the Brooder
Nov 26, 2018
10
12
23
My chickens don't free range. That's why I thought I needed to forage for them and provide them with some raw vegetable matter. I give them kitchen scraps/peelings, shredded cabbage ('cause Trader Joe's makes that convenient and relatively cheap), raw pumpkin ('cause I've still got a few on the vine), garden trimmings and weeds. And then some occasional BOSS and mealworms or some cooked egg when my husband doesn't finish his brekkie and if my cat doesn't finish her canned food I take them that as well.

I skip starchy things like bread, rice and potatoes -- though the occasional cooked bits turn up when I scrape plates. And if I have corn on the cobb -- which isn't often -- I'll let them pick at the whole thing.
 

SoCalChickenista

In the Brooder
Nov 26, 2018
10
12
23
Thanks for that keel bone chart. But it isn't clear whether the results should be the same for laying, meat and dual purpose birds. Do you know if they should? Seems to me meat and dual purpose birds probably are genetically intended to be "meatier".

Mine are all dual purpose breeds.
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
9,060
12,855
967
The Big Island/Hawaii
So are mine (Buffs), IMO it's the same but you can always search in the "Feeding & Watering" forum for more info. Everyone has their own opinion, there are studys out, we draw our own conclusions.

You feel your method & birds doing fine then continue as you are doing, we do what we feel is best for our flock. This site is open for discussions, sharing information & experiences plus a social getting to know others that LOVE their Backyard Chickens
 

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