what's best

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jknox1982, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. jknox1982

    jknox1982 Chirping

    Aug 19, 2014
    Muscle Shoals AL
    I feed my girls a mix of laying pellets, grain, cracked corn and treats but all veggies and fruits. Should I be feeding them all or some of what they get? Should it be all pellets with the others as treats? Should I change the food as it gets colder? And they also get oyster shells and grit.
    Thanks in advance
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    I would feed mostly pellets. Too much of that other food may dilute the nutrients that they are getting and you could have egg laying problems. Pellets have been designed to be the best and most nutritonally complete food for chickens and should make up most of the diet- the other foods should be just treats.

    You won't need to change the food when it gets colder. Continue feeding pellets. But, a little scratch grains and cracked corn will help them keep warm at night. Just don't overdo it- a handful each night should be fine.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Your feed should be the main diet. Everything else is considered "treats". Not that anything you've listed is bad but if you think about it the purchased feed is blended with well balanced nutrients and amino acids, etc. It can be the sole food but that get's boring and chickens are a great way to not waste food scraps and leftovers. Not to mention veggie and fruit scraps make the eggs taste better.

    Rule of thumb is 10% of diet is "treats". Obviously if you've a lasagna that nobody in the house liked you can feed to the chickens making more than 10% feed for day and have no worries. You can think of the 10% idea on weekly basis.

    People like to up the protein content during hard molts (yearly hen molt) hoping/knowing it will shorten the period of non laying. And Black Oil Sunflower seed is an excellent treat in winter as it's extremely high in fats that are easily converted to energy for self heating, also are 14% protein.

    My chickens get garden culls, pulled weeds and such plus leftovers from refridgerator in late spring to early fall for treat and fridge culls and sunflower in winter.

    Mine never took to the cracked corn in scratch but was still an excellent way to train them to come when called. Stopped purchasing scratch all together.

    ETA- To vary protein intake and when with a mixed age flock you can use gamebird/turkey feed. A gamebird starter is 28-30%, grower 21-24% and finisher 16-18% depending on manufacturer. It doesn't have the added calcium but laying hens regulate themselves for calcium if oyster shells are provided on side or handfuls tossed few times a week.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014

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