What should you feed your laying hens? We need help!!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by animallover1654, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. animallover1654

    animallover1654 Out Of The Brooder

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    So my family eats organic, healthy and all-natural food. I'm a vegan. Our cats and dogs eat raw meat. Our rats eat scraps from the table. Our parakeets and cockatiels get natural bird seed. So as you might have guessed, food quality is important to us. At the moment (and for a while now...) I'm feeding my small flock of hens typical "layer crumbles" from the local farm store (bowens), and we just don't think its very good. We also give them some human food (vegetables, corn, grains, leftovers, fruit....) once a day, but their main source of food is the store-bought stuff. I think that alot of their health problems is from the bad food, and I want to give them something better. Does anyone know of some good, healthy, wholesome, and tasty chicken food??? any advice will be greatly appreciated!! Thanks
     
  2. RedStarLady1207

    RedStarLady1207 Out Of The Brooder

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    IMO a good (high grade) commercial diet should be the mainstay of their diet with fresh, healthy treats added to that on a much smaller scale, and lots of clean fresh water.

    Good quality commercial feed has all the nutrients for the stages and purpose of your chickens. Why do you think feed you buy at Bowen's is not good? What type of feed is it?

    What health problems?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  3. sck279

    sck279 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would contact feed stores in your area. Often, they carry organic pellets or crumbles formulated for laying chickens,also organic scratch rations as well. Other than that, chickens like table scraps, fish, apple, sqash, corn on the cob, peas, tomatoes and many other veggies and fruit. I would play with their feed and see which yours like. Bread and cooked pasta are biggies too. I know there is a thread here on great snacks for chickens... check it out!
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the feed store you are going to does not offer organic feed then call around. It is available in a lot of places. You can also supplement their diet with various things. Look at the contents of the feed. Some are made with animal protein and some with soy. A lot of pople feel like the animal protein is better for the birds but I would read about it and decide what you think is best.

    Mealworms are high in protein, great for chickens and they LOVE them. They are also easy and cheap to farm at home and don't take up much space. They will eat any bugs and they are awesome for them.

    You can also read up on BOSS and apple cider vinegar. I sometimes buy bulk grains and sprout them as a healthy snack.

    http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Sprouting.html

    You can also feed them your healthy table scraps: greens, most fruits, meats, etc. Just check out the list in the learning center of foods they can not have (for example no raw beans). Chickens love breads and pastas but I am of the mindset that if you are really going for super crazy healthy then refined foods made with flour aren't good for you or them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  5. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, what are the health problems? Healthy food is always a great goal but they should not be having problems on regular feed. Best to make sure there are not other factors.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  6. animallover1654

    animallover1654 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for all of the great advice! The feed we are giving them now is not organic. The mealworm idea is very interesting, I might try that. Sadly, our house and yard is very dark and shaded (we live in the woods), so we cant have a garden to grow things for them. We would love to if we could! What is IMO feed? Where would you reccomend getting the feed? In terms of health problems, we have been struggling with crop issues, and our vet says that this could be related to the food we give them. thanks
     
  7. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    IMO means "in my opinion" :) There are plants that are shade lovers that the chickens like as well. Comfrey and lamium are two that come to mind readily. Our comfrey does really well in about 4 hrs of sun a day. Dandelions are excellent nutrition as well, so you can either let the chickens range or pull them.

    Do they have grit available? It's really essential for them to be able to grind their food in the crop. We have 2 cups attached to to legs of the coop; one is filled with oyster shell and the other with grit. We top them off as needed; the chickens seem to know what and when they need so they use both as required.

    We give ours protein as well...I make yogurt and cook pinto beans, both of which they love. They get about 1/2 C of one or the other each day. If you know anyone who makes beer, ask for their spent grain...dry it out and let the chickens have it...ours go mad for the stuff and it's really good for them. We also give them most all of the veg trimmings from the house. They won't eat carrots or potato peels, so those go straight to compost but lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, tomatoes, corn...we just dump it in the run in a heap and they scratch and munch and generally have a good time. Parsley is another favorite...I grow it in pots indoors in the winter.
     
  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Commercial feed will not give your birds crop problems.
    There are different types of crop problems two of the most common are Impacted Crop and Sour Crop. Did your vet say what the problem you were/are having was called?

    Chris
     
  9. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2 great points.

    Grit is really important if they are not free ranging. Even if you don't have a ton of plants, letting them peck around for bugs and rocks is good.

    You also want to be sure that if you end up making your own feed or supplementing and not giving as much feed that you add some calcium for your layers. Oyster shell is great and they should have it at any feed store. Or you can look on the forums for how to dry and break down egg shells for them. I don't know how old your birds are but you want to make sure that you only feed layer feed to laying birds. If you end up with a younger or mixed flock go with a grow food with an added calcium source outside of the feed. The difference is whether or not the feed has calcium mixed in it and you do not want your young birds eating the calcium as it can be harmful - they will not eat the calcium on the side if you leave it out but the mixed in calcium gives them no choice. (both kinds of feed should be available in organic)

    There are a number of great things you can grow in the shade or even indoors. If space is an issue thing like this are great:

    http://www.workdaychickenpictures.c...prouting_wheat_for_winter_chicken_greens.html

    I highly recommend mealworms. They are pretty awesome. Feel free to message me if you want info.

    I would be interested in hearing more about the crop issues you can having. Seems odd and I'm curious.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  10. animallover1654

    animallover1654 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2012
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    My Coop
    from reading everything here, I think Im goignt to start growing some shade plants that the girls would like and try the mealworms. I have been giving them grit, but not oyster shells. i will get some immediately, though. thank you mickey328! great advice! one of my hens, Olive, has had what we think is an impacted crop for about 7 or 8 months now. She has been to see the vet, and what he prescribed has done absolutely nothing. We gave her two syringe fulls of vegetable oil once a day, and then massaged the crop. We did this for about 4 months. no change, so we took her off of it. she absolutely hated it as well! poor girl. Her crop is unbelievably swollen, about the size of a tennis ball. she is also skinny even though she eats alot! any suggestions for the crop issue would be awesome!

    how much does organic feed usually cost? we are goiving them standard layers, but i dont think our local feed store has organic.

    thank you for all of the help!
     

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