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Question about feeding times for chickens

 
Travis Philp
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The person who's in charge of feeding our farms chickens is not an early riser, and usually doesn't get to feeding them until 10 am -12 pm on average. The chickens are in a mobile tractor which gets moved about once per week but for at least 2-3 days out of that period they have little to no vegetation to munch on.  Is waiting that late in the day detrimental to their health? They're usually up at the crack of dawn.
 
John Polk
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I think your flock needs to be fed earlier AND moved more frequently.  When a hen wakes up, one of the first things she needs to do is eat.

A typical pasture will have plants that are good for a hen, and some that are not good, including some harmful plants.  They are smart enough to eat the beneficial plants first, but when those run out, they begin eating whatever is left, and eventually, even plants that they know are poisonous.

If a pasture ever gets down to half vegetation, they have been there too long.  The pasture may never recover completely, and what does recover will mostly be the non beneficial plants.  Supplying feed @ dawn can help overcome this problem.  If they are well fed, they are unlikely to eat much of the harmful vegetation.  If they are hungry, they WILL knowingly eat poison!
 
Travis Philp
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Thanks for confirming my suspicions John. I've tried to tell my farm partner in charge of feeding that it's important to feed as early in the morning as possible but still the late feedings persist. I will mention the poisonous plant angle and maybe that'll push them to feed them earlier.

As for moving the tractor. The reason I leave it until the soil is bare is because I use the space to plant gardens the following year. I figured they trampled or scratched up the poisonous plants, not ate them. This changes things.
 
Brice Moss
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maybe it would be easier on the fellow if he could put the girls food out late at night instead of in the morning
 
Travis Philp
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Wouldn't they just get out of bed and eat it then and there? When I walk by them at night they often start running around thinking I have food for them.
 
Brice Moss
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mine pretty much shut down about time the stars can be seen I feed in a suspended bucket that only gets refilled about twice a month because there is no way I'll be up predawn feeding every day
 
jacque greenleaf
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I agree with those who think that the hens should be fed earlier than is apparently happening. But you may have reasons for not pushing it, so the next best thing would be to make sure they have a chance to stuff themselves before they go to roost, so provide plenty of feed about an hour before sunset.

Chickens may rouse and/or move after dark, but I would be very surprised if they ate without a light being on. If you do wind up feeding before they go to roost, and if other critters are an issue, you might want to remove any uneaten feed after dark.

Actually, when I had chickens, I made sure they had plenty of feed in the evening, especially in the winter. Thats how they stay warm.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mine get fed between 8 am and 10 am, they seem fine.

 
                            
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Maybe he needs to set the alarm clock earlier and across the room. My great aunt and uncle and quite a few other relations  were farmers in Pa. The idea of not starting work until mid morning in their opinion was working bankers hours.
Move the tractor more often also. Barren land a day or two before moving is not good land use and do you really want to wait a day or two for your next meal.
 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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I always leave a filled feeder in the coop so if they come off roost earlier than I get up they can have their fill.  They also can eat before roosting if the outside feeder is empty.

Must be working because we are in the middle of October and still getting six eggs out of our six girls a day.

Because we are on a small suburban lot we free range them late in the day when we are home. The area they range in is enclosed with a silt fence and it can be moved easily according to their and our needs.

This may not fit your program, but for our small space it seems to work quite well.
 
Travis Philp
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stebi wrote:
Maybe he needs to set the alarm clock earlier and across the room. My great aunt and uncle and quite a few other relations  were farmers in Pa. The idea of not starting work until mid morning in their opinion was working bankers hours.
Move the tractor more often also. Barren land a day or two before moving is not good land use and do you really want to wait a day or two for your next meal.


I've started moving the tractor more frequently. As for the alarm clock, she doesn't set one at all at the moment. We'll be addressing this situation at the next farm partners meeting.

 
Travis Philp
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I'm thinking of leaving a filled feeder in the tractor, rather than having two separate feedings per day as some of you have suggested. I was worried that the chickens would eat too much if given the supply but I'll just have to monitor that.
 
                                  
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Location: Basse-Normandie, France
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I presume predators are the reason your hens are not free-range but are in a tractor. Wouldn't it be better just to have a hen house and get your guy just to open and shut the door? However, then he really would have to get up earlier but he wouldn't have to feed them and you would cut your grain bill. Personally I can't wait for the day when we move and I don't have to feed my hens at all except with fruit and vegetable scraps and they forage for everything else. I have 1000 m2 walled garden in which my flock roam freely but we still feed some certified organic grain. My theory is that hens shouldn't be eating cultivated grain at all, it isn't their natural food and it's what has led to the cholesterol problems with eggs.
 
Travis Philp
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You presume correctly Pavlovafowl. On top of the various wild animals that might snatch our hens, we have two pet cats who regularily kill squirrels, rabbits, and birds. I'm willing to risk letting the hens roam free throughout the daytime and keeping them in the tractor at night but most of the other farm partners don't feel the same way.
 
                                  
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You need a Sebright. My silver Sebright 'Sneezy' is nine years old, 20 cms tall and our nextdoor neighbour's cat is petrified of her. Although Sir John Sebright took the secret of his birds' genetics to the grave, it is known that part of the mix was Old English Pit Game Fowl. However, I presume you do not have a rooster? A good big one with powerful lungs might solve both your problems - the original, organic alarm clock and no batteries needed!
 
Travis Philp
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We've got a fairly large rooster but he's severely lacking in any offensive or defensive skills. The girls hen peck the crap out of him and he usually just takes it.
 
John Polk
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Sounds like what we would call in Chile, Argentina, or Spain "un hueco", or "maricón".
(Hueco translates to "hollow" literally, maricón means the same thing, but does not translate as kindly).  Sounds like you need a rooster to replace your 'maricón'.  "Gay" roosters neither lay eggs, nor protect the flock,

 
Travis Philp
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He's just sensitive, that's all  He was free so I can't complain. 
 
Allan Laal
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Location: Estonia
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I think eating poisonous plants would deworm the chickens

Im no expert though, I feed my chickens 1x a day and keep their tractor in 1 place until the ground is black. I've been getting 1 egg from each chicken the whole summer - if their lifestyle is unhealthy, it should show in the egg production first.
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