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Pellet free hens?

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Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:07 pm


So pellets are a fairly new thing but by gum, you would think chickens had NEVER been fed anything else the way people recoil when one talks about not feeding them to them. :roll:

Now, starting from the idea that they can eat just about anything, how well do you think chickens would do on a high quality organic three grain mix, crushed sea shells for grit and any scraps and plants from the garden that are finished?

Having kept chickens most of my adult life I know a bit about the mini T Rexes but I have always fed pellets plus scraps.

Not a chance of free ranging them, I counted up the chicken eating critters round here and starting with the dog, I stopped when I hit 13. :lol:

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:22 am


Our current hens were not started with chick starter and have never had pellets or layer mash. They do get oats, wheat and BOSS. They aren't free ranged--same reason as you--but they have access to an 8x8 foot compost area and then have a light weight movable run so they can be on fresh ground around the compost and their coop. They started laying as early or a bit earlier than other chicks we've raised and my favorite thing is that they don't peck each others feathers out. They also get the offal when we butcher rabbits, the Japanese beetles we have to hand pick from the asparagus, roses etc, and sometimes minnows we scoop from the pond. Don't know if it would be different if you were raising them for meat and looking for fast growth, but it has worked well for us.

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby GBov » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:22 am


See, that is why I LOVE it here!!! I have asked this same question in another livestock forum and while I have gotten a few helpful suggestions, mostly I have been told why it wont work and that soy is fine in feed and why am I being so silly over organic.

THANK YOU! :D

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:36 pm


Never mind the nay-sayers, GBov . . . you should have heard the outrage when I started to explore ways to feed rabbits without pellets. :roll:

I took a glance through my poultry bookmarks and copied a few links for you to take a look at. It is entirely possible to feed chickens without commercial feed. Goodness, what DID folks do a century ago?

http://www.lionsgrip.com/chickens.html
http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Sprouting.html
http://www.makeitmissoula.com/2012/07/e ... cken-feed/

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby GBov » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:11 am


Ooooo THANK YOU Maggie!!! :D

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Marinea » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:32 am


I don't want to think about how long ago this was, but one of my favorite childhood memories involves going to my grandparents' house and sitting in their corn crib and shelling and grinding corn for the chickens.

The chickens would get corn, leftovers from the table, veggie scraps, and scrap from processing animals on the farm. Occasionally, they would be allowed to free range as well. This was the way my grandparents had always kept chickens and these chickens had to be productive, eggs and meat, as they were feeding a family of 15.
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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby SixGun » Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:33 am


precisely, pelleting is the same as dog food, it's just supposed to make things easier, at a cost, usually to our animals health.

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby hotzcatz » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:52 pm


We don't feed our chickens pellets, we barely feed them at all. Our chickens get occasional scraps, mostly just so they'll hang around and have to forage for most of their food. They've moved out of the chicken coop, too, so we don't even provide housing for them. If we leave at least one egg in the nest they hide in the bushes, they'll keep coming back to the same nests, too.

If you pellet feed them, they'll be more productive, but your per egg cost will be a lot higher. If you let them run around your per egg cost will be a lot less but you'll get less eggs. We don't get as many eggs, but the ones we do get are essentially free.

There's neighborhood dogs who get some of the chickens. We had some nice fluffy ones, but those got eaten by the neighbors dog. The survivor is a hybrid white leghorn cross and she is strangely persistent about setting eggs so she's been populating the yard with new chickens. The new ones are smaller and faster than the fluffy ones.
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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby GBov » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:14 pm


I WISH I could let them free range, I LOVE free range chickens! But I just cant here, too many critters to eat them and they do too much damage to the veg.

Have been looking into Pickerel Weed and its cousin Water Hyacinth as at least one has highish protein, up to 20 percent.

But the old hens are doing well on what they are eating right now, might add sprouted grains as well and on the list of things to do is a chicken tunnel to a compost pile. I want to put a pipe into my kitchen counter, right through the wall, at a steep slant so I can just drop the compost through it.

It might stop finding my floor wriggling with baby flies, like this morning. :x But it wasnt smelling so I didnt realize how long it had sat in its bucket. My bad! :lol:

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:51 am


GBov, it just occurred to me that growing grain to full sprouts or fodder may be a problem in your climate. Heat and humidity can cause mould to develop pretty quickly. A good alternative that the parrot people have been using (there is a ton of info for parrots) is to feed "just germinated" grains and seeds. They're quicker too -- only about 24 hours -- so you can just have one or at the most two containers on the go to have a constant supply. A couple of links for you . . . but googling will find you a wealth of information.

https://www.beautyofbirds.com/sprouting.html

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/0 ... odder.html

And then there is the other side of the story:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homestea ... 0z16fmzkon

The problem as I see it with this is that "age appropriate feed" implies commercial feed and that is what you want to get away from. I know these are University studies, but I do wonder who funded them.

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby GBov » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:11 am


Always, ALWAYS wonder who funds "studies" on everything!

Trying to find a way out of the food trap for all of us I have been learning things that make my stomach turn and my anger burn. :evil:

I was wondering about the mold as well with sprouts. Have been soaking the pigs grains overnight on the porch - its warm out there :roll: - with vinegar in the water. By feeding time its all bubbly and yeasty smelling but I wasnt too sure about giving something like that to chickens.

But then again.........

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:38 am


I think there is a difference between fermentation and mould. But I am not sure how it would affect chickens.

I've always just done my sprouting/germinating in the kitchen. Very small scale, and impossible when the heat and humidity strike. It's mainly for our very spoiled goose when grazing is not available. You probably have air conditioning and that might help -- provided you have room for the germinating indoors. Kitchen or laundry room perhaps?

One bucket, soak for 6-8 hours and then drain and leave to germinate until feeding time. If the grain takes longer than that, you may need two buckets on the go. But I do think indoors in the relative coolness might be better than on the porch.

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby GBov » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:13 pm


Whey HEY! https://www.scratchandpeck.com/feed-and ... nted-feed/

Am off to mix a batch.

Have been doing this overnight for the pigs but I add vinegar to the pigs batch. Wonder if one should do it for the birds as well?

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:32 pm


Cool! 8-)

Be sure to let us know how it goes!

Vinegar won't hurt the chickens. Lots of people add ACV to their drinking water, same as for rabbits.

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Re: Pellet free hens?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby GBov » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:43 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Cool! 8-)

Be sure to let us know how it goes!

Vinegar won't hurt the chickens. Lots of people add ACV to their drinking water, same as for rabbits.


I bought the cheapest bottle of carp vinegar I could get at teh supermarket today, its just to make the water more acid. PROPER acv is so expensive I cant justify it on the livestock anymore.

Will try my hand at making some palm vinegar when I get my hands on some, last time I tried it though it was about 200 proof, smelled scrumptous and, as I dont drink, I poured it down the drain. :lol: Have since learned it was only half done so will do better next time.

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