What do you feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mochicken, May 16, 2011.

  1. mochicken

    mochicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    NW Missouri
    Ok I see post after post recommending different ideas that we all have on our "flock food"

    I keep a small flock of chickens ( and new chicks ) and am trying to find out what others are feeding their laying flocks, when I go to the feed store I see all kinds of things that can be a bit confusing.

    Layer crumbles= do you feed them this from pullets?
    General chicken food= does it contain all the things they need in one feed
    Cracked corn= treat or food? Do you mix it in with layer food or general pellets or do you feed this instead of pellets
    Chicken Scratch= when do you feed this and why?
    Shell= when do you start feeding it
    Mealworms= dried or live, do you feed them?
    Sprouts, do you grow sprouts for your chickens?

    If you do any or all please comment, thanks in advance.
  2. 3goodeggs

    3goodeggs pays attention sporadically

    May 22, 2009
    North Central Florida
    I feed Purina flock raiser. ours were having feather eating issues, so we switched from layer because the flock raiser has more protein.
    We started out with pellets, but they would not eat them and we returned to crumbles. which worked out well wen we switched.
    We have oyster shell ad lib for calcium.
    They get scratch for a treat, but not everyday or even every other day.
    I give them greens from the garden a lot and when they are gone they get all the weeds that get pulled.(be sure you don't give them nightshade) and I also give the black sunflower seed. What people call BOS but that also is a treat.

    and anything that the family has decided that they have had enough of. I clean out the refrigerator and give it to them, They get the compost bucket when it's full too.

    I am not overly concerned that they will starve.
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  3. TeriS

    TeriS Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 28, 2010
    Fort Wayne, Indiana
    I feed layer crumbles and I have since they were a few weeks old (After I stopped the chick starter). I occasionally feed them cracked corn as a treat or to entice them back into the coop before they really want to go in. I offer them oyster shell, but I don't see them eating a lot of it, and so I forget for weeks at a tinme to give it to them- they seem fine without it, really, and I don't think you need to feed them this until they begin to lay. I have never given them mealworms or sprouts, but the hens do like to go into the garden and eat my lettuce, etc...that is beginning to sprout:)
  4. sheila3935

    sheila3935 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    Stonington, illinois
    Here we dont have a chick grower just starter/grower so I feed them that til right before they start to lay then switch to layer. I give my ducks an all flock feed which the adult chickens sometimes eat too. I gve oyster shell on the side. They also get scratch mixed with boss as a treat.Tehy also now that its warmer eat grass and bugs and worms. In the winter they get cabbage kale peas warm oatmeal which they love on a cold winter morning but these are all treats. Their layer is their main diet. Have been looking into making my own, but have to find a grain mill first.
  5. CupOJoe42

    CupOJoe42 CT Chicken Whisperer

    Apr 11, 2011
    I will try to answer your questions based on what I've read, researched and been told by Poultry experts at UCONN:

    Chicks should be on Starter Feed (medicated or non-medicated) for their first 6-8 weeks of life.
    Pellets are too large for chicks, so they should be given crumbles.
    Then you can switch to Grower/Developer Feed with less than 1% calcium until they start laying eggs.
    Once they start laying eggs, they should be on Layer Feed with 3 1/2-4% calcium.

    BAG FEED PROVIDES A BALANCED DIET. CHECK DATES ON BAG FOR FRESHNESS! Any feed that is over 6 months old should NOT be used.

    Some people keep their chickens on Starter Feed until they start laying, but it does cost more money.

    If you give table scraps, don't give more than the flock can eat in 5-7 minutes, and only give once a day.
    Be careful not to feed too much bread, sugary products, salty products, or wheat products.

    It is better NOT to feed grass clippings, as they will eat too much which can cause crop impaction.
    They don't eat as much grass if they have to forage themselves. They should only have up to 15% fiber in their diet.

    Chick Starter already has grit in it and does not NEED to be supplemented.

    Any chicken that eats whole grains and seeds needs grit (acts as a chicken's teeth). It can be offered separately and made available at all times.

    In the winter, about one hour before the chickens go to bed, you can top dress their feed with cracked corn (scratch).
    This will give them energy. It takes 4 hours to metabolize and keeps them warm thru the night.
    It should not exceed 5% of their feed. Corn is lower in protein and higher in fat and will make chickens obese if given too much.
    Scratch should not be given to chickens under 8 weeks of age.

    Laying hens need plenty of calcium to keep the eggshells nice and thick, hence the Layer Feed has higher calcium.
    You can make ground oyster shells available to them if you are not sure they are getting enough calcium.
    Too much calcium for chicks and young birds can damage their internal organs. That is why there is different stages of feed.
    You can also grind up egg shells, but many don't do this because they don't want them to start to cannibalize their eggs.
    Phosphorus and calcium are related and needed to metabolize the other.

    There is a great list of acceptable and not acceptable treats for chickens on this website. You can do a search for it or look under the learning center.

    Hope this helps!
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Layer feeds shouldn't be fed until at least 16 weeks of age. It has a lot of calcium which is needed for eggs and not good to harden pelvis area when birds are developing. I'm switching to layer pellets in attempt to save on waste.

    Cracked corn or Scratch (corn and oats) are both treats. They don't have enough protein to be sole feed. It gets to when you shake some scratch they come running, you can head count or maintainence birds if you free range easily using cheap treats like scratch.

    Starter has very little calcium and high protein for just hatched to week 10 or until after week 16 (until on layer). Most is medicated.

    Grower has less protein, can be cheaper. If used is sole feed after week 10 to point of lay. Some feed it until week 20.

    Oyster shells are provided as free choice or mixed into layer feed to up calcium for egg shells. Some times first eggs are soft shelled, more calcium can correct that. If your eggs have a thinner shell than you want supplying their own eggshells back or oyster shells back in feed will correct it.

    Meal worms are high protein treats. The kind of treat that's great for training young birds.

    Sprouts are yet another treat (greens this time). During the summer we feed them kale and other cuttings from garden.

    edit to add:

    Dobie had a good point about small amounts of high fat feed for cold winter nights. It's twice the price but Black Oil Sunflower Seed has twice the protein and 4 times the fat of scratch. Im so sold on it for winter we've dedicated the area from garden to fence to sunflowers this year. Hoping to get 10 to 15 pounds from 100 sqft (5 X 20) patch. Using what's left from last winter feed bag to seed it.
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Overall, the responses have been quite well written and provide solid information.

    However, perpetuating the myth of "corn at night to keep them warm" makes me winch a little.
  8. NanaLantana

    NanaLantana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lantana, Florida
    Start & Grow, Purina, up to about 4 months.
    Layena crumbles after that.
    3-grain Scratch every evening, about 1 1/4 cups for 7 chickens.
    Save my eggshells in a brown bag in the kitchen to dry, then crush up and throw into the run.
    Leftovers, especially melon rinds, and other fruits. (now it's MANGO season! They're under a mango tree)
    Oatmeal flakes, they love 'em.
    Free-range to get grass every evening for about 2 hours.
    I don't supply grit or calcium other than eggshells, as we're on Florida soil - lots of sand, grit, snail shells, etc.
    My chickens love to catch and eat lizards, and any other little live stuff they see.

    I plan to start growing my own mealworms soon!

    Happy feeding![​IMG]
  9. Niss

    Niss Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2011
    The farmer over the hill sells "chicken feed" at $10/100#. As far as I can tell it's just oats and corn, but I'd like to ask him about that. It's what my layers were eating before they were given to me, and they layed great! We were leery, since everyone said there is no way they can produce on grain. Sooo we mixed 50# layer crumbels to 200# of the grain mix. The girls are doing fine, but I wonder if it's bad for the little gals (2 months) and ducks, who eat the same thing in seemingly greater quantities.
    They also have a large run and we give them table scraps too. I dig them worms sometimes even though it's a no-no, it's just nice to have them come running.
    I don't give grit--they can get it themselves when they freerange on the weekends. I gave a dish of oyster shells after finding a soft shell, but they seemed to kick it around more than eat it so I haven't offered it again yet.
  10. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    I feed purina chick starter to about four months old then switch to flock raiser. I initially did this because I had a rooster and a pet Turkey that did not need the calcium in the layer feed. They seem to like the flock raiser and egg production has been great, even through winter. They did slow down for about a month when each one went through molting. Flock raiser with crushed oyster shell for their calcium always available. Don't under estimate the need for calcium. We had a few soft egg shells and that's when I realized my wife thought the grit was the oyster shell and they had no form of calcium for about a month. Got them back on oyster shell and educated the whole family on what was what and everything has been fine since.

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