Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bee Answers Your Natural Chicken Feeding Questions



Dear Bee,
In your last post you said that you cut the layer rations back as it goes from hot weather into the cold months.  I understand the theory for that. As of now I have been giving half layer pellets & half scratch, black oil sunflower seeds, oats mix.   Since one of the hens just started laying should I increase the layer rations some in the fermented feed? I know this time of the year when laying slows, but what about nutrition for hens new to laying?

 Bee’s Answer: 

I would leave it as she lies.  I don't adjust to the individual hen but to the flock.  If they all start laying, you can up that layer feed a little but I wouldn't go whole hog on it.  You really want to get them in a cycle like the one described in the last post and young hens will lay in the winter when only a few layer type birds will be doing so.  I don't accommodate that as much as others would because it's just a hen’s starter eggs.  They don't need the better nutrition until they are going into reproduction instead of just production.  I'd see how they go along on your ration you have now and up it when the season flows.  Every year I have new layers laying in the winter ~ and some of the oldsters ~ and I do not adjust my ration for them... and they lay right along just fine. 



Dear Bee,
I keep food Hi-Lay (20% protein they are just finishing their molt I plan to switch them back to 16% after this bag is gone) pellets in the feeder in the run at all times. Should I not?

(Just look at the protein in those things!)
 
Bee’s Answer:

I'd cut that ration a little right now, if you can, with some lower protein whole grains.  Barley is a good one and the chickens love it ~ and it's cheap.  Win/win/win.   A 50/50 ration would be good. 

Bee -




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16 comments:

  1. Wow - thanks for organizing this blog. you have really come a LONG WAY since i 1st read it a few weeks ago when Beekissed responded to my BYC post on FF. I am still going to try to finish the thread by reading 10-20 pages a day. On page 270 of 603 (although they may out-run me).

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  2. I've prayed about it, Leigh and I would not like any more of my content placed on the site. You can keep what you currently have but please do not quote anymore of my words, if you don't mind. I'm worried about the words being changed from their original intent or content.

    I'm sorry about all the inconvenience but you can continue to build on the site and I hope it does well for you.

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  3. Bee....we love you very much....the ones you have touched so deeply with your wisdom wish you would reconsider.....One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch babe! The blog will be lost without you..........

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  4. I found a piece of meaty looking substance in one of my eggs and was wondering if Bee could tell me what it was and if I should be worried?

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    1. Cheryl - sadly, Bee has decided not to do the blog any more but perhaps I can help you. Chances are it is just an overgrowth or an odd growth of tissue that was inside the oviduct. This sometimes happens and is passed out of the oviduct through the egg.

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  5. I just found this site and hope someone can answer my question. I have 6 laying hens and 10 guineas and 4 roosters (soon to be 1 rooster). I've read about fermented feed and today have made up the double bucket system, and have a first batch going (used Braggs ACV w/mother). But what I'm wondering is -- what kind of container would be best to place the fermented feed in? I know it should not be metal. But it seems like a wide flat pan would be something they'd jump in and poop in and a smaller pan only a few could eat from at a time. What kind of containers do others use? Thanks for any advice. -Kathrynne

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    1. Kathrynne -
      You are correct - FF should not be fed in metal feeders. I will soon be making chicken "feed troughs" out of large PVC pipe, cut in half length wise and then placed in "V" notches made in two 4"x4" sections to hold it steady. Others use cheap plastic dog bowls or even just put it on the ground. I have had plenty of success with the dog bowls or the ground. Just do what works for you, and don't sweat the details. Your chickens likely won't care either way.
      Leigh

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  6. Oh! Duh! (Slapping self on head) Thanks so much, I never thought of just putting it on the ground. Of course, that's a perfect solution for now. But the PVC pipe would be even better, and should be quite doable.

    One other question -- under "Fermented Feed" you state "Make sure there is plenty of air flow to prevent the growth of mold or mildew." So I didn't cover the top "sieve" bucket. I hope that is sufficient.

    I started it yesterday morning, and I notice this morning it had a froth on the surface before I stirred it, and this afternoon it's starting to smell slightly sour, so I raised it up by putting a couple mason jars underneath it so the liquid could drain off. Do you think, though, that the air flow is sufficient?

    I ask, because I began sprouting seeds for chickens a couple months ago, thanks to a sprouting forum, and did for awhile have trouble with mold when I covered the containers.

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    1. That sour smell is just what you want! Be sure to keep it UNDER THE WATER! You should have about an inch or so of water over the top of it as fermentation is an anaerobic process. If you let it set up out of the water, mold/yeast will begin to grow on the surface.

      The hope is to keep the molds/yeasts in check (balance) so that the lactic acid bacteria are growing and proliferating.

      We'll be doing an updated post SOON on this to help clarify some of those points. But...put that bucket back down in there and be sure the feed is all under the water.

      :)

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    2. Oh...and have you seen our article on sprouting here? http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspot.com/2012/12/easy-ways-to-sprout-seeds-for-your.html

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  7. Wow, thanks for that response! I somehow thought it was supposed to drain off. I did put it back under water, and will continue to do so.

    Gave it to the chickens and guineas this morning -- in 3 plastic dog bowls, a good-size scoop in each -- and it was gone in a couple of hours.

    I had not seen your sprouting information, and thanks so much. I've been using the 2-4 gallon plastic buckets plus some seed-starting trays. At first I got mold, but I did find that if I stirred the seeds with my hand daily it prevented the mold. I did not know that it's best to feed sprouts rather than fodder, that's really good information. I'm printing it out, along with the fermenting article, to put in my 3-ring binder. This website is wonderful -- better than all my poultry books combined. Thank you so much! -Kathrynne

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    1. Kathrynne,
      So happy our team could be of assistance!
      Leigh

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  8. I've been feeding a mix of sprouted barley & BOSS now for about 2 months, and the chickens love it. I began fermenting their layer mash two weeks ago, and they accept that very well also. But the last few days I've noticed very runny poops. They do free-range in the afternoons, so it's possible they picked up something on the acreage. But I hope the sprouts or fermented feed are not the cause. Should I be concerned, do you think? -Kathrynne

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  9. I should mention that I have six chickens and ten guineas. On free-range, the guineas appear to have firm stools, whereas in the coop under where the chickens roost, is the runny poop.

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