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Help!!! Scary math question. 😳  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I’m not sure where to post this, but it is about chickens so I’m hoping some of the brilliant chicken folk here can help me.

I’m trying to figure out how much feed I should give my birdies now they’re nearing full chickenness. The number I guess I’m supposed to aim for is about 1/3 lb per bird (assuming average sized hens). Being as I am who I am, I naturally feel the need to complicate this by feeding fermented. I don’t want to count the water weight into the caloric ration. So... while I’ll eventually do this by volume, it seems easiest to start out by weighing it. Here’s my problem (and I really have no idea how to solve it...)

Fermented Feed

2 gallons water  16 lbs
6 cans feed.      18 lbs

That breaks down to 3 units (wt) water for every 4 units (wt) of feed. I think that’s relevant, but that’s as far as my language arts brain will take me. I need to know what weight of wet food will contain a pound of dry food. (Or metric... either would be wonderful.) Any suggestions from the math folks... or from you amazing people who do both sides of the brain?

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Yum! Doesn’t it look scrumptious?
 
pioneer
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Wouldn't it be easiest to ignore the water, and simply go by the amount of dry feed you are using?  If your 1/3 lb per bird calculation is correct, 1 lb of feed will feed 3 birds, or 1 bird 3 times (roughly), so 18 lbs of feed times 3 equals enough food for 54 birds, or 54 feedings.  Just ignore the water.

Edited for spelling.
 
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If you want the equivalent of 1/3 lb dry feed of your wet feed and your wet feed is 16 parts water and 18 parts feed (by weight) then you need to divide 1/3 lb by 18/34 lb to get 34 / 54 lb - or about 10 oz.

Look at it this way.  If you feed 1/3 lb of your wet feed then you're feeding 1/3 lb dry food times the component of that feed that is dry - 18 lb / (16 lb + 18 lb).  So you've fed 1/3 * 18 / 34 or 18 / 102.  To get this back up to 1/3 you just have to divide by what you multiplied by - 18 / 34.  Thus, 1/3 / 18/34 - which is the same as 1/3 * 34/18.  This simplifies to 34 / 54.

You may want to account for some evaporation during fermentation, depending on your system.  Try weighing the wet feed before and after fermentation to see how much water you've lost and adjust the 16 lbs in the above to whatever the lower water amount is (eg, if you start out with 34 lb of wet feed and it's 32 lb after fermentation, maybe your ratio is 14 parts water and 18 parts feed).
 
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Hi Cindy,

First, I know *nothing* about feeding chickens fermented food, but I do soak wheat for my Noisy Ducks (ie domesticated from Mallards). For me, the water content isn't the issue -  we dump the soaked wheat into a water bucket so they have to dive for it to clean their eyes - not a chicken thing at all!

That makes the math simple - you calculate the 1/3 lb times the number of birds, add however much water you want, then feed the whole thing to the birds when it's fermented. If your birds are set up so that you need to separate the total into "helpings", I'd just weigh the finished product, divide by the number of birds, and give the resulting answer to each bird.

My point is that since you're dealing with the real world and not a lab experiment, things tend to get squishy. If the feed isn't totally powder like flour, but has lumps, it may not be evenly distributed. If your birds are out and about in different weather, you'll need to get a feel for how their needs change based on weather and the quality of forage.

Opps - I just saw that Trace also replied. If this doesn't help, try giving us more info!  
 
pollinator
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Hi Cindy,

I'm of a similar mind with the last post.  It'll be pretty had to get exactly 1/3 to each bird with evaporation, etc and the nutritional needs will fluctuate some.  Knowing how much you should feed definitely helps, but you'll be able to feed by eye before too long.

My experience with fermented feed was that I saw approximately 40% reduction in feed with the fermented vs regular.  This was done with a 28% turkey starter that was fed to quail.  I never ran trials with chickens, but I'm sure it would be similar to the quail.  I just wanted to point this out as the 1/3 lb will change if you've based that on unfermented feed.
 
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They eat less of fermented feed so I don't know how you would calculate the exact dry food portion if you plan to add water/ferment it unless you feed them for a month and do the math afterwards.

What is it you are trying to accomplish here? Is it about calculating costs? Or storing food? As far as how much to feed, most everyone gives them all of the basic food that they want with the dish never going empty (or at least all they want at the end of the day if they are free ranging).  If the birds have a decent sized run and get exercise then fat chickens isn't a concern, and too little food lowers egg production.
 
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As noted by others, there are too many variables like evaporation losses, as well as generally reduced consumption by the birds when fermenting.

If it was me I'd start out giving them about half the normal daily dry feed equivalent in the mornings.  Since you're pretty close to 50/50 feed/water I'd put out 1/3 pound fermented feed per bird for that half ration.  Monitor how much they eat before feeding them again in the evening.  If they ate it all pretty quickly then maybe put a bit more out in the evening.  If there was still a significant amount left after a few hours then toss it, and then cut that evening ration by the amount they didn't eat from the morning (so if they ate about 3/4 of the morning amount give them 1/4 pound fermented feed each in the evening).

It'll take a little while to dial in the quantities this way, and you'll waste a little feed especially the first couple of days, but it'll let the chickens tell you how much to feed them rather some math formula that is probably wrong anyway.
 
Cindy Skillman
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Thanks everyone! You’re all great, and as usual with me, things are simpler than they seem. I do tend to overthink, but even though I know this, sometimes I just need some input to figure out what to do. I’m going to add two pints/pounds of water to equalize the two weights (duh) and divide the feedings into morning/evening and see how they do. They’re still a month (more or less) from laying age, so going by productivity isn’t yet an available parameter. My main concern (as a newbie) was that I might be over feeding, especially since the girls are staying in their coop (like the people 😳) because they’re just plain dissatisfied with all the white on the ground and with the wind (they don’t seem to mind the cold by itself). Here the lovely little darlings are (around 2/3 of them anyway 😁) a few days ago:

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Andrew Mayflower
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Good looking hens!  Let us know what you ultimately figure out in terms of how much they consume.  Be interesting to see what percentage of the dry feed they consume vs the 1/3lb guideline for non-fermented feed.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Personally I wouldn't worry about them getting fat. I would feed them all the basic food they want (they usually don't overeat their basic food, only the "special treats" like pasta/rice and other kitchen leftovers). Can't tell you how many times my chickens have stood at the gate to their pen looking as if they are "starving" and I run to refill their dish only to discover their regular food dishes are full, but they were "starving" for some scratch or other interesting items.

As a distraction/entertainment maybe consider hanging greens/vegetables for them. They will love to peck at it, you can tie a string around a bunch of leafy greens or put it in a suit cage and let them go at it. Plus leafy greens make the egg yolks a lovely orange color. Feeding greens is especially good when it is snowy and they don't want to go outside.



 
Cindy Skillman
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Thanks, Lucretia! Your chickens look so happy! I’ve been giving mine veggies occasionally but just laying them around on the floor. They get bedding all over them of course. 😢 that looks like a great idea. I’ll start thinking about what I have that would work for that super fun feeder. 😋 I do give them a little scratch at night, but not too much. They empty their feeder, but they don’t mob it when I bring it back in the morning like I see in some of the YouTube videos. Do yours do that?
 
master steward
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With fermented feed, it's supposedly more easily digested than non-fermented feed, so you might end up needing slightly less. BUt, it's cold, so they probably need a bit more calories right now, anyway. When I fermented feed, I'd put the days amount in one jar, and then next day's amount in a second jar. I'd pour #1 jar's liquid into a third jar (to kickstart the next ferment) and feed my ducks the entire contents of #1 jar.

I need to get back in the habit of fermenting feed. I'd stopped when I was pregnant...over two years ago...because the smell made me feel like hurling (thanks pregnancy hormones!)
 
Cindy Skillman
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That sounds like a great system, Nicole. I was silly enough to start out with 15 chicks (to avoid the small order “tax”) and they generously sent me 17 healthy girls, so at this point I’m using a 5 gallon bucket. 🙃  I can see how the third day feed would definitely get to a pregnant mom. I had problems with that when I was pregnant, too, though the triggers were sometimes pretty gross since I was nursing at the time... I won’t tell you, though.  😑 🤭 😉 I have no context for even guessing about feed usage, but I was more interested in making sure their little immune systems were adequately stocked with microbes. I’ll probably stop once they’re out on nice green grass and just give acv in their water, especially since I’m adding as many more chicks in spring, plus turkeys, plus meat birds... yes, I did get it bad. 😳
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Cindy Skillman wrote:Thanks, Lucretia! Your chickens look so happy! I’ve been giving mine veggies occasionally but just laying them around on the floor. They get bedding all over them of course. 😢 that looks like a great idea. I’ll start thinking about what I have that would work for that super fun feeder. 😋 I do give them a little scratch at night, but not too much. They empty their feeder, but they don’t mob it when I bring it back in the morning like I see in some of the YouTube videos. Do yours do that?



Those are stock images, not my birds.  

In the winter I try to give them plenty of cracked corn and/or wheat at night before bed. Supposedly whole corn is good for keeping them warm at night, the idea being it takes several hours to digest and that fuels their bodies and helps keep them warm (similar to people that eat oatmeal to keep their blood sugar stable for many hours).

Mine don't mob the feeders in the morning, but there is often scratch left over from the night before and they love to eat that first thing.

Chickens aren't like dogs, my dogs get carefully measured portions twice a day to maintain ideal weight, but my chickens get all the regular layer feed them want plus a LOT of scratch in the evening  especially in winter (I try to throw enough out so there will be some left over the next morning). Except in the summer when it is hot, then i don't feed corn at all and just give them wheat occasionally, but in the summer they have lots of wild greens/bugs to eat.

I have heard some people have problems with "fat" chickens but I suspect those are urban folks that have teeny tiny little runs and their older birds literally have NOTHING to do all day except eat (plus the people probably bring them snacks/table scraps 2-3 times a day too). Though I realize your birds are stuck inside all day with the snow and all, since they are young and still growing that likely isn't a problem. Too bad there isn't a way to feed them live crickets/cockroaches, I occasionally buy some crickets and release them and boy do the birds love chasing them (plus the crickets have a shot at freedom and living out a natural life). I could see crickets being a huge hit in a winter hen house with lots of places for them to hide.
 
gardener
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Mine have a constant supply of layer food. They mostly ignore that except during winter. They prefer free ranging for bugs & berries plus an occasional stolen tomato from the garden. Every morning when the coop is first opened they come running out for sunflower seeds. They also receive sunflower seeds before being closed in for the night. They often get a couple handfuls during the day too. Haven't done it lately but when the stars are aligned just right & my food karma is good I sprout grains/beans for breads & stir fry. Chickens love sprouts too!!! Increasing the number of birds next year. Intend to build a large sprouting tray rack just for them. Simple to make & use. Use anything that holds several containers (with drain holes) above each other. Start by adding grains/beans to the top container. Add water & let it drain into the lower containers. The next day lower that tray one level & add more grain & water to another top container. Repeat daily. After a few days you will have several containers of sprouts in all stages of development. The lowest one being ready to use each day.

Curious about what breed the white chickens with the black feather around their neck & tails are.
 
Cindy Skillman
pollinator
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Thanks, Lucretia. That’s very good to know.😀 I think my girls may be of the self-regulating kind. They do frequently leave food in their feeder. The snow has melted off a bit and the girls are out pecking around, having fun today! Historically we’ve had fairly spotty winters, but the last ten years or so, the snows have been coming and staying. Good for the water table and prettier than bare ground, but inconvenient nevertheless. Our doggies would eat all day long, given opportunity, except for the little one.

I’ll have to look into the live crickets. I think there’s a pet shop in town that sells them. When the girls were little I enjoyed tossing crickets to them and watching them chase one another around. So funny!

Mike, I love the sprouter idea! I may just give that a try. The part about having them in varying states of development particularly appeals to me. Do you let them develop their first true leaves, or do you harvest before that?
 
Trace Oswald
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Cindy Skillman wrote:
I’ll have to look into the live crickets. I think there’s a pet shop in town that sells them. When the girls were little I enjoyed tossing crickets to them and watching them chase one another around. So funny!



They do the same with meal worms.  It's hilarious.
 
Mike Barkley
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I eat them before true leaves. In the feeder specifically for birds it will be grown out a little more. Currently have way more coop than birds but that will change this spring. Trying to get away from commercial feed entirely.
 
Timothy Markus
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Lucretia, the cricket idea is brilliant; I wish I'd thought of that.  I've found that you can train chickens with dried mealworms but I love the idea of getting them scratching more in the litter.

I'll second the sunflower seed idea.  The black oil seeds are best, but any will do, and it gives them some energy.  I also use them for rabbits in the winter or for a milking doe.

In the past I set up a fodder system for wheat, oats or barley, though any sprouting seeds would work.  I had 9 11x13 aluminum pans set on a tilted rack with holes poked in the bottom and a gutter system to catch the runoff.  I didn't reuse the water to minimize mould issues, but I set it up with a solenoid valve on a timer.  One a day I'd grab a mat for the chicks and add another scoop of grain.  The timer flooded the pans 6 times a day, so it was easy.  I can't say that I noticed much difference in the eggs or the chickens, but I also gave them lots of veggies throughout the winter.  I wouldn't bother with it the rest of the year as they had access to grass and I'm still not sure it was worth the little effort I put into it, but they sure went nuts for it.
 
Cindy Skillman
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Mike, I forgot you asked— sorry ‘bout that: the white ones with black markings are Colombian Wyandotte’s.
 
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