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Anyone raise chickens? Doran, are you there?


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I have a question regarding the feeding of chickens.

I know that ideally chickens will spend as much time as possible out of doors, eating bugs, getting a little grit in along with the bugs to keep their gizzards happy, soaking in the sunshine.

We can tell that they've gotten plenty of sun from the color of the yolks.

 

But even in ideal circumstances, ie. lovely, warm spring day, breezy summertime, won't they still need a supplement to their diet? Or can they indeed forage enough to supply them with all the food they need to produce great quality eggs?

Thanks!!!

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but we have a dozen laying hens who are sort of like pets. I thinkn that they do need real chicken food since unless they are amazing foragers, they won't get enough of what they need. Right now, in rainy, gloomy New England we still let our chickens out during the day for a couple of hours, and I can't imagine what they find to snack on since all the bugs are hibernating. Although my kids did say that they thought one of them ate a fieldmouse who was out during the day . . . Chicken feed is about $11 a bag (40 lbs?) so that's a small price to pay for our fine feathered friends.

 

jeri

 

PS. If you ever decide to fill your freezer with red meat again, I have a great source!

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No, they don't need adult diapers. Whether or not they need a diet supplement depends on your locale, how widely they are willing and safely able to range, and what kinds of goodies they can find while foraging. I would say that it is RARE for any property to provide for the dietary needs of a laying hen without some supplemental feed.

 

Color of yolk is mostly due to the beta carotene in the grasses they are eating. Sunshine is wonderful, but it won't necessarily make for lovely yolks all by it's lonesome. And for the best production, and the healthiest birds, you would want to supplement their diets with a high quality feed. We always preferred a feed which was a mixture of grains and minerals, all in their "original" form. But, commercially, many people choose pelleted feeds or "layer mash", which sort of clumps everything together into a little...um...clump. :rolleyes:

 

HTH,

Doran

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PS. If you ever decide to fill your freezer with red meat again, I have a great source!

Thanks for the chicken info, Jeri. secret.gif Although I will now need to do a brainscrub to get rid of the picture of chickens fighting over a field mouse!

 

Oh, and yes, thanks for the head up on the meat. I'm glad that worked out for you. Ahhh, someday, someday we'll be ready for a big old side o' meat!! :D

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Thanks, Doran. This is good to know. There's so much talk right now about whether or not chickens free ranged or whatever and I wasn't completely convinced that there could be such a thing as a 100% free range (fed) egg layer.

That makes sense!

 

No, they don't need adult diapers. Whether or not they need a diet supplement depends on your locale, how widely they are willing and safely able to range, and what kinds of goodies they can find while foraging. I would say that it is RARE for any property to provide for the dietary needs of a laying hen without some supplemental feed.

 

Color of yolk is mostly due to the beta carotene in the grasses they are eating. Sunshine is wonderful, but it won't necessarily make for lovely yolks all by it's lonesome. And for the best production, and the healthiest birds, you would want to supplement their diets with a high quality feed. We always preferred a feed which was a mixture of grains and minerals, all in their "original" form. But, commercially, many people choose pelleted feeds or "layer mash", which sort of clumps everything together into a little...um...clump. :rolleyes:

 

HTH,

Doran

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A "free range" hen simply means not caged. Free to "range"..."roam"...etc. It used to mean something different than a factory farmed, caged, layer hen. It meant a bird that had no confines whatsoever. But, once the industry picked it up, it grew to mean simply that the birds aren't caged layers.

 

For those looking to buy eggs, the very best option would say "pasture raised birds", and these are usually only available at a specialty market or farmers' market.

 

Doran

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For those looking to buy eggs, the very best option would say "pasture raised birds", and these are usually only available at a specialty market or farmers' market.

 

Doran

 

Once a month we have eggs (and other things) delivered by a Mennonite farmer. His product list says that his eggs are "totally pastured" but he's in PA in the winter, so that can't be year round, right? And because they don't lay as many eggs this time of year, he sometimes brings us some Nature's Yolk eggs because there are quite a few families ordering and he just can't produce enough for all of us at once.

His own eggs are excellent! The NY eggs are good too, but his are the best!

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...His product list says that his eggs are "totally pastured" but he's in PA in the winter, so that can't be year round, right?

 

Unlikely that he can pasture them year round in PA. We did it here in MD, but we're a zone 8 (really a 7, but buffered by the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries), so we're fairly temperate. People used to tell me that they'd never had eggs as good as the ones we sold. One guy described the yolks as the color of a New Jersey schoolbus. That always made me smile!

 

Doran

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