What to feed my chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by josh85, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Spring Dreaming Premium Member

    19,204
    9,289
    556
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Layer doesn't make them lay eggs, it's just formulated to be fed as the only food to laying hens, and to give them nutrition wise every thing they need. You don't need to feed layer, it's just one option.

    In the wild, chickens lay only a couple of clutches a year, they don't lay like domesticated breeds do. They lay only to reproduce.
     
  2. josh85

    josh85 Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    24
    Feb 4, 2016
    Texas
    OK that good to know what are the other options as far as feeding them
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Spring Dreaming Premium Member

    19,204
    9,289
    556
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I personally feed either a non medicated grower crumble, or an all flock pellet because they both have higher protein than a layer ration, I always have grit and oyster shells available. I like to feed some scratch and whole corn, and my birds free range so my egg production was suffering a bit. I switched them from a layer to an all flock last fall and they molted quicker and began laying again sooner.

    If your hens are confined and are only fed a ration a layer is a good choice, but if you add extra stuff a higher protein can offset lower protein stuff like corn or oats and can keep them laying.

    You are trying to feed them enough to lay and stay healthy but not so much that they get fat, which isn't good for laying.
     
  4. Ballerina Bird

    Ballerina Bird Chillin' With My Peeps

    822
    127
    196
    Aug 29, 2014
    Chickens have been domesticated animals for so long, I wouldn't worry too much about what they would do in the wild. Although one thing they would probably do is eat some of their eggs. I regularly feed eggs back to mine as a treat, always scrambled, never raw, so they don't associate their treat with the eggs they lay. Eggs are a nice, easily digestible protein source for them.

    If available in you area, Modesto Milling is organic, non-GMO, and good quality. My hens like it, and I know a chicken keeper with a 7-year-old Polish who still lays regularly and has been eating that feed her whole life.
     
  5. birds4kids

    birds4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    443
    45
    101
    May 15, 2015
    Just use some common sense. There are people who have their opinions and will blindly defend them no matter what. Forums give equal voice to the intelligent and ignorant and unfortunately a lot of times the intelligent give up arguing before the ignorant.

    Just layer feed is fine, if they get other things THINK about the content of those things and try to strike a balance.

    Food can be more than sustenance to chickens, it can be entertainment, a handful of scratch can keep them busy if spread far and wide. I tend to keep a coffee can of scratch/grit/oyster shell/mealworms(to balance the protein) mix at the tractor and give them some of that once a day. Letting them eat from our hands helps calm them around us and throwing it on the ground gives them something to occupy their afternoon trying to find it all.

    Some folks make their own feed by mixing whole or cracked grains that are honestly the basic ingredients in commercial crumbles or pellets, and none of us have flocks starve.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to feed a chicken, they are like feathered omnivorous goats, they will eat anything as long as that anything isn't toxic and includes reasonable protein ans calcium levels, you will get eggs. If the eggs have thin shells get them more calcium, if the egg production falls off and you don't see a "stress" cause try giving them more protein.
     
  6. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    11,005
    449
    328
    Jun 1, 2009
    Ohio
    Quote: Goats are some of pickiest eaters you can raise. I don't know how the wives tale, " goats will eat anything" came about but it is far from the truth. lol

    As for thin egg shells, Yes a eggs is made up of about 94 to 97 percent calcium carbonate but calcium is only one thing that makes for strong egg shells.


    Protein, Adequate levels of lysine and methionine is need to produce good egg shells. When pullets begin laying, there is an increase in protein, vitamin and mineral requirements per day due to deposition in the egg. If dietary protein is too low or the amino acid requirements are not met, poor egg production and hatchability will occur.

    Calcium, The egg shell is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The pullet's requirement for calciumis relatively low during the growing period, but when the first eggs are produced, the need is increased at least four times, with practically all of the increase being used for the productionof eggshells. Inadequate calcium consumption will result in decreased egg production and loweregg shell quality.
    Hens store calcium in medullary bone, a specialized bone capable of rapid calcium turnover. As calcium stores are depleted, bones become brittle. In severe cases, hens are unable tostand. The condition is known as caged-layer fatigue. Birds on the ground or on litter floorsrecycle calcium and phosphorus through consumption of feces, and do not have caged-layer fatigue.
    Calcium can be supplied in the diet as either ground limestone or oyster shell. Particlesize affects calcium availability. Usually the larger the particle size, the longer the particlewill be retained in the upper digestive tract. This means that the larger particles of thecalcium source are released more slowly, and this may be important for the continuity of shellformation, especially in the dark period when birds do not ordinarily eat.
    Periodically, dolomitic limestone is offered to the feed industry. However, dolomitic limestone(which is used in the steel industry) should never be used in poultry diets. Dolomitic limestonecontains at least 10% magnesium, and this complexes with calcium or competes with calcium forabsorption sites in the intestines. The consequence of feeding dolomitic limestone is inducedcalcium deficiency.
    Young birds should not be fed a high calcium layer diet because the calcium/phosphorus ratiowill be unbalanced, resulting in increased morbidity or mortality.

    Phosphorus, The nutritional role of phosphorus is closely related to that of calcium. Both are constituentsof bone. The ratio of dietary calcium to phosphorus affects the absorption of both these elements;an excess of either one impedes absorption and can reduce egg production, shell quality and/orhatchability.
    In addition to its function in bone, phosphorus plays a primary role in carbohydrate metabolism,is active in fat metabolism, and helps to regulate the acid-base balance of the body

    Vitamin D, Vitamin D is required for normal calcium absorption and utilization. If inadequate levelsof vitamin D are fed, induced calcium deficiency quickly results and egg production decreases.
    Feed grade vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. In most animals, both are equally potent. In birds, however, D3 is substantially more active than D2. In poultry diets, therefore, vitamin D must be supplied in the form of D3.

    Magnesium, Magnesium is needed for healthy bones, proper nervous system functioning, and energy metabolism.

    Fat, Dietary fat is a source of energy and of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. A deficiency of linoleic acid will adversely affect egg production. Dietary fats also serve as "carriers"of fat-soluble vitamins, and some fat is necessary for absorption of vitamins. In fact, impairmentof the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) is the most serious consequence of a dietary deficiency of fat.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  7. birds4kids

    birds4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    443
    45
    101
    May 15, 2015
    Should I go back and change it to "chickens are like the myth says goats are"?

    We don't need to worry about all those details, that level of understanding of vitamins and minerals is VERY recent in raising of domestic animals, yet we managed to fine for hundreds and thousands of years beforehand. You would have to try and feed your birds a pretty narrow diet to cause major deficiencies.
     
  8. josh85

    josh85 Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    24
    Feb 4, 2016
    Texas
    Well this has been one hell of an informative thread. On another note I have a chicken that is digging holes and laying in them all day is that normal
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Spring Dreaming Premium Member

    19,204
    9,289
    556
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    yes, they are dust bathing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  10. Dead Rabbit

    Dead Rabbit Chillin' With My Peeps

    450
    27
    139
    Apr 28, 2010
    Virginia
    My method includes a good layer crumble or pellet in front of them 24/7 in a hanger style self feeder. Thee times a week I would soak a nice grain mixture overnight and feed it in a trough. This would be a morning time feed. Just enough so everyone got some and they cleaned it up in less than hour or so. Then twice a week I would soak a good grain free dog food till it was soft usually overnight. Just enough where everyone got some and it was cleaned up almost immediately. During moult I would feed the soaked high protein dog food Threetimes a week.
    Occasionally id let them free range a couple hrs before roosting. But regardless of the ranging, dog food, soaked grains, the most important thing for feeding and nutrition is the good pellet or crumble. This is the most necessary part of the method and if everything else was withheld and they were fed nothing but the pellet or crumble ration, they would do just fine.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by