Wheat & free range

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by intownfarm, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. intownfarm

    intownfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    I just got a ton of bulf wheat from a friends farm. My hens are free range and if I give them free access to this wheat too do I have to give them anything else? They currently eat some commercial feed but mainly house scraps and bugs.
    Thanks
     
  2. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    What is 'bulf' wheat? I buy whole grain wheat in 50# bags and toss it out as scratch. They love it. I don't give them free access to it b/c they might fill up and not eat the layer feed.

    If they free range a lot you may not need to give grit (if they are able to pick it up while ranging), but I put out sand just in case.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2007
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Well, usually it is best if they have free access to layer feed, but as long as you can keep their protein uptake up, they should be ok with a variety of foods.
     
  4. intownfarm

    intownfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Sorry BULK Wheat. Kernel Wheat right out of the field.
     
  5. intownfarm

    intownfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Also since they free range I have found it impossible to collect eggs. They hide them all over the yard & I find them weeks later. So egg production is not a big concern.
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    You have only two issues, and they're not deal breakers. The first is that whole wheat will not be ideally digested by chickens. Some of it will pass through undigested. I think the rule of thumb with chickens (and pigs) is you need to feed around 150% of whole grains as you would an equal ammount of feed which has been milled. Again, this may not be an issue.

    The second is that wheat can have a protein percentage in the 14% range, which is just a few % shy of what's ideal for layers. It's probably not a huge deal if they're foraging; and as you mentioned you're not looking for ideal laying conditions. Just to be safe, though, I'd at least provide some free choice calcium supplements for them. You don't want the egg laying robbing too much calcium for their systems, potentially causing other problems.
     
  7. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Did you mean a ton, literally, or just a lot?

    Some great answers here and they point out a common maxim of feeding chickens: No one food should be the only food they receive.

    For example, even with a balanced layer ration, some green feed should be included in their regimen for optimum health. This is even more so in the winter.

    Read any feed recipe from the old days and wheat is a favored grain constituent, according to my research. But, but many other things contribute to the balance - the list of ingredients can be mind boggling, in fact. But, when you can get it cheap as you have, it can be taken advantage of without fear as a part of their diet, I should think.

    If my advice mattered, it would be to continue giving them the scraps, allow the freeranging and keep the regular feed before them. All this leads me to wonder how they are doing currently, sans wheat?

    A great, easily accessed resource for feed preparation iand knowldege is found in the old book by M.G. Kains, "Profitable Poultry Production." Just google that title and youll find it online for free.
     
  8. intownfarm

    intownfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the wisdom. I am just looking for a way to use all this grain. It might not be a ton but it is at least 600 pounds of wheat. I guess I will just watch my girls and suppliment some. I just hated to buy layer pellets at $8 a bag when I have all this free.
     
  9. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    You can also have some of it ground and eat it yourself.
    You can also plant it and let the chickens run among the wheat.

    This could go on for years!
     
  10. SandraChick

    SandraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am a firm believer in free range chickens being self diet balancing. Go ahead and put it out free choice. You'll see they may gorge on it for a day or two and then back off drastically.

    Putting it out to sprout is an excellent idea also. Sprouts are particularly good for chickens.

    Your additional problem of egg hiding....have you put fake eggs in their coop? Golf balls work wonders. Chickens like to lay where others have successfully laid their eggs....so if they think there are eggs in the box....they'll naturally want to lay there.

    Good luck
    Sandra
     

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