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How can I further reduce chicken feed consumption

 
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I've got 7 hens and a rooster in about a quarter acre paddock.  It has an abundance of plant growth for them to feed upon.  During the winter months they go through about 5 gallons of feed a week.  I was hoping that the new paddock would all but eliminate the feed consumption during the growing season.  

Unfortunately, it has not.  They still consume about 3 gallons of feed a week.  

Any suggestions?
 
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Steve, it sounds like you've made good progress on your goal. One thing I found to help was to move our compost piles into the chicken yard. They adore digging through the scraps and the bonuses were less feed and faster compost.

Another thing you can do is to sprout grain for them. That can cut the feed usage by up to 70%. Permies actually has PEP badge for that. You can find directions and videos here.
 
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I agree with Leigh about sprouting their grain.  It is an easy way to grow food for them.

That link has some great videos of how to do it and even recipes on how to blend the feed to make the sprouts.

Be sure to take some pictures next winter so you can complete the badge bit!
 
pollinator
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That seems like a lot of feed. I have 10 hens and a rooster and I go through about 2 gallons of food a week. They get food scraps and weeds and whatnot. Are you free feeding? My birds get a quart a day in the morning. The rest of the day I expect them to peck about in the weeds and scraps. Granted three of the birds are young, but I'm still getting 6-8 eggs a day.
 
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Make sure rats aren't eating their feed.  We burned through a lot of feed before we realized just how much the rats were eating.   100 lbs of feed a year per bird is a rough estimate to judge by.

Saw something once about using a light to attract bugs for feed.  I've never tried it, but always thought it interesting.  

Also saw something about using carcasses (roadkill, etc) to grow maggots to feed them.  Then saw something about listeria problems with the method so I never pursued it, but might be something to check out.
 
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I would agree that sounds to high, are they wasting a lot of feed by throwing it on the ground? Can wild birds get to the feed and is there any evidence of mice/rats?
 
pollinator
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A comment on sprouts reducing feed consumption that is one of the ones that is wrong unless you raise the sprouts to extreme size.  Think of it this way.  A seed contains X amount of stored energy.  It takes Y amount to produce the sprout that it actually burns up sprouting.  So in the short term the food value of the sprout actually goes down.  Eventually it will make enough other stuff to make up for that loss.  But in the short term a sprout actually increases the total amount of feed needed.  Now it has some other advantages as green feed has different nutrients available.

Do a search for feeding cattle sprouts in a drought out of Australia.  You will find a guy talking about all the gains made feeding sprouts.  Then check the articles that debunk this and show how the total feed needs go up rather than down.  But they also note that in most cases the livestock eating sprouts tends to be healthier.

Now you will find chickens will eat a certain amount of grain if the have it available.  Watch bird health and reduce it some.  Also the people talking about rodents and waste have serious points that should be considered.
 
Steve Shelton
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Yes, I am free feeding.  
 
Steve Shelton
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There is very little waste and no signs of rats or mice.  
 
Stacy Witscher
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Then I would suggest not to free feed. I like to make them work for their food. If their egg production were to drop without other explanation, or they looked thin or ill, then I would up their feed. Chickens are going to have preferences just like people, sometimes it takes a little encouragement to get them to eat the things we want them to.
 
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what breed/s of chicken? i suspect that can have an influence on how ‘into’ kibble they are, as opposed to forage.

i currently have 7 hens and 2 roosters, with full time access to food, and i think i’ve seen a local crow swoop in and steal occasionally, and they don’t go through anywhere near that volume of food.
 
Steve Shelton
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They are ISA Browns
 
Remember to always leap before you look. But always take the time to smell the tiny ads:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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