What to feed pecking hens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dukecitychick, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. dukecitychick

    dukecitychick Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    I have 4 pullets that just started laying, and the Blue Andalusian was beating up on my poor little BO, pecking her tail feathers out. I isolated the BO for a night, pine tarred her, and put her back in the next day with a Flock Block, scattered lots of BOSS, new cinder blocks to play on, and a new outdoor feed pan. I've also started giving them yogurt with a banana in the morning.

    The pecking has subsided, though I saw the Ameraucana take a swipe two days ago. I think it's going to be OK - they did just move in 2 weeks ago but I imagine they were bored. There's no grass in the run. None in our yard, either, for that matter!

    Thing is, I don't think they eat any layer pellets at all! I'm afraid to stop giving them BOSS because I don't want them to start pecking again, but they need to eat pellets to be healthy, right? They can't free range where we live. I've tried mixing the pellets into the yogurt but they pretty much pick around them! It's a local feed company, 22%. Has anyone found a complete feed that chickens actually LIKE? BTW, it's the same as what they were getting before I bought them. To sum up my questions:

    1) What's a complete feed that hens will actually eat?
    2) If I withdraw all the "treats" are they going to kill each other or eat pellets?
    3) If I cut down on the treats and put hay or something over it for them to scratch in, will they just get impacted crops from eating hay? I can't imagine it's nutritious for them. What's something they can scratch in that they won't eat?
    4) Am I really over-treating them or is free-will BOSS OK?

    Sorry I have so many questions, I just want them to have a mildly healthy diet!

  2. turney31

    turney31 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2008
    palestine texas
    I feed my laying hens Laying pellets 24/7, I throw several handfuls of scratch grain on the ground once daily. Watermelon for treats occasionally. I have good luck feeding in this manner. oh and I keep out oyster shell. [​IMG]
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Sounds like they are passing up the feed for the BOSS. Like offering a kid candy and veggies. I think if you remove the BOSS and just leave the feed, they will eventually give up and eat.

    Only other thing I can think of is the feed is bad, meaning spoiled or rancid. But I'd bet on their preference for the BOSS.
  4. dukecitychick

    dukecitychick Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    The thing is, I'm not giving them THAT much BOSS (I think). I just leave two handfuls in different corners before I leave for school. Four birds, two handfuls... seems like they'd still have to eat something else! Or is that too much BOSS?

    They get maybe one handful of scratch when I get home, and the yogurt in the morning, maybe 3/4 of a cup total.

  5. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jan 11, 2007
    Yup, that's too much BOSS. One handful would be plenty for a treat for four birds. I only give a group of a dozen birds 1-2 handfuls as a treat.

    You could also try giving treats after school. This will get them in the habit of filling up on the nutritious foods first, then having a treat before bed.
  6. dukecitychick

    dukecitychick Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Aha! Thank you.

    I'll cut back on BOSS and see if they start pecking at each other. I like the idea of after-school treats, too!
  7. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I have an old kitty litter bucket with the lid on it that I fill 3/4 full of their feed, and then mix in 1/4 BOSS. I have 26 chickens so in the AM I scoop out about 4 cups and sprinkle it through out their run. I do that again in the PM. They think their food is a treat if it's sprinkled around the run.

    You may want to mix just a little BOSS in with their regular feed and then sprinkle it around and see how they do. If they act like it's a real treat, cut out the BOSS in the AM and just generously sprinkle around their own food in the run. Then add just a little BOSS to the PM "treat".
  8. dukecitychick

    dukecitychick Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    I tried sprinkling around layer pellets this morning and they all came racing over, then stood there and looked at me, like, "Are you serious?" I told them I was, that they're horribly spoiled little girls, and that they wouldn't get any treats till this afternoon. They all just shook their heads.
  9. sillybirds

    sillybirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2008
    Feather pecking is frustrating! I know, I'm currently dealing with that too. It's the most problematic issue with my chickens, and significantly detracting from my enjoyment of my flock [​IMG] .

    One thing I've heard recommended to help with boredom (and thus pecking), that I've tried, is to hang a suet cage for them to peck at. You can put most anything in one, like a third a head of cabbage, apples chopped in half, lettuce, etc. It seemed to help, but not completely.

    I'm currently trying those Pinless Peepers that Dr.Doorlock described using. They seem to be helping some, particularly with pecking of butt feathers, below the tail feathers. They still seem to be able to peck the back feathers of my lowest-on-the-pecking-order SLW.

    Good luck!

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