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People-food for chickens

Posted by undercover_owl PortlandOR (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 14, 05 at 21:55

My 11 chickens are about 3 months old now. This is the first flock of my own, since I was a kid. They're so much fun to feed because they seem to like everything!

Let's just say they get a lot of variety in their diet. In addition to their feed (I just switched from chick-starter to chicken feed), they eat grass, bugs, and leftovers.

They go wild over these crowd-pleasing treats:
cold spaghetti cut into worm-size bits, soggy raisin bran, mashed potatoes, potato chips, cooked rice, cooked beans, raisins, boiled egg yolks, and meat (yikes).

They also eat: bread, dry cereal, chopped apples, other fruits, stale pastries, flax-meal, oatmeal, chopped nuts, and leafy greens.

Does anyone else give their chickens people-food?
Do you think this is a good idea or not?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: People-food for chickens

I was always told that chickens were omnivorous like pigs, that they would eat just about anything. So I have always gone that route. Yeah, spaghetti, old mac n cheese, bread, desserts....just about whatever I have laying around.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Absolutely!!! I keep a container on the counter, we call it the "chicken bucket." Scraps go in there all day: toast crusts, leftover cereals, stale bread, uneaten pasta, even some leftover dog/cat food. When the flock sees me coming with the "bucket" (actually a large margarine tub", they all come running and squawking. - Ellen


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RE: People-food for chickens

It is an absolutely positively TERRIFIC thing to do!!!!!

Oh, & Turtle Haven Farm - I too had a "chicken bucket" always on my counter - lol!!! And my chickens also got leftover cat/dog food, pasta, cereal, veggie/fruit scraps, etc. They absolutely LOVED the leftover cobs from corn on the cob in the summer (plus we always cooked a few extra just for them).

The only things you want to avoid feeding your birds are:

Anything heavily sauced or highly spiced
Members of the onion family
Too much produce from the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, etc.)

It's not so much that the above will make your birds ill, but they will give your eggs an "off" taste.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Another post mentioned "no potato peelings." Whoops, Ive done that for years, but noticed they'll only eat them in winter, with no ill effects. Summer's, they ignore them, so I compost them in summer
I also knew a farmer once who'd toss in a couple of handfuls of dog food every week to his hens, said the higher protein made them lay eggs like crazy. I know mine go nuts for it, but I only give as a snack, not on a weekly basis.- Ellen


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RE: People-food for chickens

Just lastnight I fed my new group (also three months old) cherry tomatoes for the first time. What a hoot! I swear theres almost nothing funnier than seeing a chicken running around with a bright red cherry tomato in her beak - kinda reminds me of rudolph! I've always grown extra veggies in the garden each year for my chickens. And I must say, its nice to have my little garbage disposals back for the scraps! :)


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RE: People-food for chickens

I feed my chickens leftover people-food constantly, they love it. I even bring them doggie bags from restaurants


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RE: People-food for chickens

I never had a problem feeding my chickens potato peelings - raw or cooked - but we didn't have potatoes all that often (once a week maybe?) so perhaps that's why they didn't create a problem.


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RE: People-food for chickens

I've been an avid supporter of feeding table scraps to chickens for years. :) A few iron-clad rules are : No raw meat (parasites and other ickies), no chocolate (toxic to birds), nothing they might choke on and nothing unhealthy such as donuts with rainbow sprinkles. :) Basically what is good for you is good for them.

If you REALLY want to turn your chickens on, give them a live food such as mealworms. We get the giant mealworms at the pet store (usually you have to ask at the counter as they keep live food in the frig). Toss a handfull to your birds and watch the fun! I swear, it's like chicken crack... :)


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RE: People-food for chickens

.....And just WHAT is wrong with donuts with rainbow sprinkles on them? :-)


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RE: People-food for chickens

I disagree with every post - especially littleredhen's suggestion of "Old Mac n Cheese"!!!!

Now that I have your attention, I will modify that. If you are just running poultry for fun, and do not have a pig that will enjoy all those things mentioned above, including the mealworms, then go ahead and give them anything you like. I will even risk VS's wrath and say that I do not believe chocolate is toxic to poultry. If you are running poultry for profit, then bear in mind that anything you feed them other than a properly formulated poultry ration is diluting the expensive feed you are buying, so do not feed them any "extras". Old McDonald.


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NOW, the next question--how long will DH believe that i'm just empting "old" cans of peas, green beans, mixed vegs to mix in my chicken feed?lol-- velvetsparrow has certainly given me good advice, as well as numerous others on the forum. but--when i run out of kitchen scraps, i've been known to go to the pantry.


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RE: People-food for chickens

I guess this is a good opportunity to ask some questions I've wondered about.

Say you're eating 1/2 of a cantalope...would you scoop out the seeds and that juice and save it for them? would you then give them the left over rinds? I put the vast majority of our "chicken-safe" scraps in the food processor to make it tiny, unless it's large eoungh they have to peck it.

I let a big carton of strawberries go too long in the fridge...I just washed them then put them in a giant water bowl full of clean water...they just kind of looked at them. But when I smushed them up right there with my fingers and put them back in the water...it was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie...chicks, chickens, ducks, geese....kind of scary. But it is great to see a chick run around with something in it's mouth!

Or, say left-overs from a Mexican meal? The rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, all that...

I know not to give them anything too spicy, so I've pretty much avoided giving them anything other than fruits and veggies, cooked eggs or leftover (stale) bread all put in the processor and mixed together. I will give them handfuls of oatmeal (not the instant) or stale cereal whenever I find it...

I agree with Old Mac, tho, about diluting the benefits of the layer food, but in the summer with temps 90-100 degrees and bugs everywhere, I'm backing off a little on their feed, so I like to give them more fruits and veggies.

Suzie


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RE: People-food for chickens

Cantaloups, squash, pumpkins, yes, I scoop out the innards and give it to them. Then I give them the rinds, they eat the inside of it right down to the skin and love it. - Ellen


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Mamacotti - everything you mention is fine (so long as you're not giving them leftover Mexican food every night - lol!!!). They love melon seeds & rinds to pick over.

And you don't have to grind stuff up in the food processor either. In fact, I think chickens rather enjoy having to work a bit for their food.


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I can give them the seeds from watermelon, and cantalope? here i've been taking the seeds out, fraid they'd choke on them. course, maybe mine are still to small, 5 weeks about, for seeds?


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I wouldn't give then watermelon seeds at that early of an age.


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Glad I read this post, I was wondering if I was going to hurt the flock (5 Rhode Island Reds) by giving them scraps. No expensive feeds to dillute at our place. I'm looking forward to fresh eggs!

BUT they have found the cat food and the poor cats haven't the courage to face them off. I'm going to have to be more considerate to my cats.


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Miss Kitty -

Thats funny about the cat food. The chickens I had last year did the same thing. We adopted 3 kittens (yes, we had them fixed immediately!) and as soon as I'd let the chickens out of their yard, they'd make a bee line to the cat food bowls in the barn. Even when the cats grew out of the kitten stage - they still didn't cross the chickens. The funniest thing I saw, and I should have taken a picture, was feeding the chickens leftover pasta in the backyard, and seeing two out of three cats right in there with them eating! They really got along well!


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My daughter-in law invited us for a cook-out for fathers day--now-i'm asking for a chicken bag to take home!!! leftover baked potatoes, corn-- i gave my month old banties a full ear of corn on cob, just to see what they would do--ever see 28 chicks on a single ear of corn??this morning, there a bare cob in the pen. treats to all mine now.


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RE: People-food for chickens

We adopted a "dumped" kitten several years ago. Grew into (although physically small) one of the most ferocious cats with an extremely short fuse I've ever seen. We didn't dare let him loose outside, but would tie him up to a cinder block in the front garden while we were outside. He loved sitting on his cinder block searching for prey to slaughter. We'd include a bowl of food and water for him.
We also had 5 huge roosters that would prowl the yard my daughter recscued from her H.S Biology class. They soon learned about "Riley's" food bowl and the sight of those 5 Leghorns bearing down on the poor kitty's food bowl caused the savage Riley to crouch in terror behind his cinder block!!- LOL - Ellen


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RE: People-food for chickens

The chickens prefer to eat directly from the hand.They seem to think that the food in my hands is better than the same food I just threw on the ground, lol.

The latest treat: a carton of expired tofu. They went gaga over tofu!


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RE: People-food for chickens

Old Hazza, no wrath here, darlin'! :)

I've been reading for many years in bird magazines and medical journals of the toxicity of chocolate for animals, and not just birds. It's interesting that a substance so deceptively natural in origin sould be toxic--but hey, arsenic is natural, too! *L* If you do an Internet search on it you'll find pages and pages of info, but in a nutshell here's a synopsis:

"In sufficient amounts, the theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to animals such as horses, dogs, parrots, cats (kittens especially), and other birds and small animals because they are unable to metabolize the chemical effectively [2]. If they are fed chocolate, the theobromine will remain in their bloodstream for up to 20 hours, and these animals may experience epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death. Approximately 1.13 grams (0.04 ounces) of baker's chocolate per kilogram of a dog's body weight is sufficient to see symptoms of toxicity.

Medical treatment involves inducing vomiting within two hours of ingestion, or contacting a veterinarian. Vets commonly treat seizure with diazepam or phenobarbitol, tremor with diazepam or methocarbamol, treat bradycardia with atropine, and treat tachyarrhythmia with propranolol, metoprolol or lidocaine.

The LD-50 (Lethal Dose for 50% of a population) of theobromine in canines is 250mg to 500mg of theobromine per 1 kilogram of body weight [3], although death has been documented at 115mg of theobromine per kilogram of body weight. A typical 20 kg dog will normally experience intestinal distress after eating less than 240 g of milk chocolate, and won't necessarily experience bradycardia or tachyarrythmia unless it eats at least a half a kilogram of milk chocolate. If it does not expel the chocolate from its system because of the fat and sugar content, then it would have a 50% chance of surviving after eating 5 kg of milk chocolate. Dark, sweet chocolate has about 50% more theobromine and thus is more dangerous to dogs."

While the above is more aimed at dogs, it explains well the method of delivery of the toxic substance and what happens. Because birds are smaller and have higher a metabolism than a dog or cat, in theory it would take a smaller dose of chocloate to be lethal. I've never had a chicken or bird die from eating chocolate, but then again I've never fed my animals chocolate--I'll take the medical communities' word for it! :)

Another good article specifically on chocolate and birds is here, written by a vet:

http://www.multiscope.com/hotspot/caffeine.htm

She points out that chocolate, is sufficient quantities, is also toxic for PEOPLE! You'd have to tuck into a 20 pound chocolate bar, but still--! *L*

If you run a search on 'chocolate toxic to birds' you'll see all kinds of info. Fascinating stuff!

Velvet :)

*who also loves doughnuts with rainbow sprinkles*


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RE: People-food for chickens

Re: The Scrap Bucket - I use one of the new Folgers plastic containers with a lid. Sits right by the sink.

Re: Feeding Dog Food - The chicken books I've read recommend cat food which is higher in protein - especially when they are molting and need additional protein to grow new feathers.


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RE: People-food for chickens

I'm going to sneak in and add to give cat food in limited amounts, some has too high of an ash and/or sodium content, which can be harmful to chickens if they get too much. :) Give it as a special goodie.


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Well, I for one would never waste chocolate ("food of the gods") on my animals!!!! It goes down my own craw! LOL.
And Kimberlee, that's exactly what I have on my kitchen counter: a plastic Folger's can with the plastic black snap on lid. Keeps the bugs out of it during summer.! - Ellen


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hey, its that super--we better not let folgers know--they'll find another way to charge us. i have 2 of the folgers cans--so one can be in the dishwasher, while the other one is filled.


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Are my chickens just bizarre? They really don't go "nuts" over anything. Well, berries and a dropped egg they do. I gave up on giving them most scraps because I was just cleaning it later. My mother had saved watermelon rind and they looked at me like I was nuts. Most of you give them meat scraps too? I was giving them bread-type leftovers (which they like) but now the pigs get that... Are they just weird?


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RE: People-food for chickens

ebarj, chickens are social animals, so maybe there is some peer-pressure or group mentality going on in your flock.

I have 2 groups of chickens that I keep mostly separate, and there are some differences between the food preferences. The big group is crazy for raisins, but the small group just casually picks at them. Odd.

And of course, if it's in your hand, it's more desirable to them.


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RE: People-food for chickens

I often "live head" the daylily garden in the evening since those blooms will be dead the next day. There is so much substance to daylily blooms and it seems the chickens would love them. Has anyone fed daylily blossoms to their chickens?

Don't have chickens yet, but love all the info here!


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RE: People-food for chickens

I too have a bucket on the counter for the chickens. I give my chickens everything except raw chicken, bones, and sweet corn cobs. They don't get the bones and the cobs because the dogs would steal them. (Corn cobs, if swallowed in pieces, can cause serious problems for dogs, involving surgery and expensive vet bills.)

I give them meat scraps--free range chickens will eat anything, including mice and baby snakes, so I figure it is a natural part of their diet. There is never much meat, though--the dogs get first choice.

About the only things they don't eat are citrus rinds and onion peels.

Whatever the chickens don't eat gets scratched up and "composted" in the yard, along with the many bags of leaves I dump in during the fall. (And how they love to scratch in those leaves!!)

The leaves have the additional benefit of helping to keep the yard from being so muddy, so my eggs are cleaner during our wet winters.

In the spring, I shovel wonderful fine, crumbly compost into the gardens.


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Hands down, Annie's Mac and Cheese is my flocks favorite treat! They love all of the scraps (poor dog isn't getting her usual treats because they all go to the chickens now), but they go absolutely crazy over the Mac and Cheese. Fortunately for them, it is the only thing our babysitter knows how to make, and she always makes too much!


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I also have a bucket for the chickens. I also cook all the meat, chicken, and seafood trimmings for them. My husband says I waste a lot of gas cooking for the chickens. LOL....


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RE: People-food for chickens

From what I've seen on the web, Daylilies are safe for parrots, so should be OK for chickens as well. Regular lilies are NOT, they are toxic. If you search the Internet you'll get more info, but here are a couple of pages I found:

http://www.landofvos.com/articles/kitchen8.html

http://www.paghat.com/daylily.html

The last paragraph on the second web discusses the non-toxic quality of daylilies for humans and animals.

I couldn't find daylilies listed on any of the pages that show lists of things that are toxic or safe for birds. If you do a search on 'plants toxic to birds' there are many sites that have lists of things that both safe and unsafe. You'd be surprised at what is on these lists!

Velvet


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RE: People-food for chickens

I give my girls all of the split beets out of the garden and they love it!! Any produce that I get that is not pretty enough for sale goes to the birds! I have also given them a mango or 2 that are a little too overripe for us and they pick it down to nothing!! My dh threw a half eaten nectarine into the woods yesterday and I was upset because the girls would have loved it---now some good for nothing squirell is going to eat it.....hmph...


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RE: People-food for chickens

I threw a couple of overly ripe peaches into the chicken pen yesterday morning and later found only a dried up pit! I am amazed at my little disposals, it feels great not to waste.

Sheila


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RE: People-food for chickens

Peaches...I offered bits to one of my flocks, and the Crested Polish hen loved it, but nobody else did.
Edamame is a real crowd pleaser, I discovered today. They also liked "little smokies".
While digging, I found a huge, disgusting larva about 1" long. I held it out and Screebert got it, lucky boy.

Feeding chickens is so much fun!


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RE: People-food for chickens

Generally I find chickens will eat anything a human will eat and more. Table scraps are just fine. Anything they don't like they will leave. I know they certainly love cat food. I have to feed my cats after dark or else the Bantams will take over the dish and crowd the cats out.
Then in the winter time when I feed the chickens grain mash the cats will come and help themselves to the chickens mash. It is interesting to watch this "feeding frenzy".


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RE: People-food for chickens

I am getting chickens, once all the preparation has been done, and I have found the posts very informative. I was just wondering if anyone can tell me how often and how much to feed my chickens, I was hoping to major onthe scraps (if possible totally!), as that is the main reason for getting them, and our guests can enjoy feeding them too (we run holidays).

We have just bought a really cool gadget that fits in the run fence and twirls round so the twin food bowls face the outside for filling up and then twists back in so it faces the chickens, so guests can feed the birds without letting them escape!

Any tips for a newcomer to the chicken run, would be much appreciated, Many thanks


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RE: People-food for chickens

Don't worry about chickens overfeeding themselves. They're not like dogs when it comes to food self-discipline. (At least, not the chickens that have room to run around, anyway.) Chickens will eat just about everything edible (omnivores).

The saddest thing, is that chickens love hot dogs. Gross. I won't give them that again, just because of the feeding-frenzy. But, they also love cooked top ramen, and, cream cheese, ...and insects...weird.
Chickens are the pigs of the poultry world.

I have seen a couple of posts from people underfeeding their chickens and the outcome was fewer eggs. I would advise to keep chicken-feed supplied at all times, and give them table-scaps whenever available. Serious egg-farmers have their own way, but, small-time chicken owners have the advantage of recycling food that even the dog won't eat. (Well, chickens eat bugs don't they?! The dog won't eat those!!!)


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RE: People-food for chickens

We divide out our leftovers, meats to the dog, everything else to the chickens. Also, they love the weeds from the garden. I feel my girls are more like "confined free range" because they get so many weeds and scraps....Also, when they are getting so many scraps and weeds in the summer, it seems that the eggshells get thinner, so I mix some of the crushed oyster shell in their layer crumbles for summer. I keep the feed out all the time, but they eat about half as much in the summer because they fill up on other stuff.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Did you ever see them eat a watermelon?They eat all just leave the shell.


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RE: People-food for chickens

AND--its soo funny to watch them eat spagetti--they suck it down like a child would-- anyway-they do when they're on the run from the rest of the flock!!


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I picked a bunch of Japanese beetles off my green beans... they were putting serious holes in the leaves. Chickens gobbled them up like crazy. Also had a large can of baked beans leftover from my church fund raising dinner. We'd never have eaten them all. Put the pot down on the ground and walked away. By next day, it was all gone!!! LOL - Ellen


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RE: People-food for chickens

Dog gets first pick of anything with signifigant meat content, or cleaning the plate of my picky toddler who never finishes anything.

Chickens get most of the veggie scraps, old blackberries, rice, stale cereal, cookies, bread or any other food that doesn't have much meat and hasn't gotten too moldy. They got a LOT of zuccini that got too large for us this year.

Sheep get some bread and most of the orchard apples.

And anything too far gone (except meat) for any of the above goes to my composting worm bin.

The cats are too picky to get much in the way of people food. Mostly I give them canned cat food as a treat.

I don't know what we are going to do when we get pigs in the spring! We already feed most of our scraps to our animals! I think the dog and the chickens are going to suffer the most as far as lack of scraps... oh well.


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RE: People-food for chickens

It amazes me what the chickens eat! They will eat chopped up zucchini including the rinds, all sorts of melons with the rinds and any sort of left over food from the table and even the morning's coffee grounds. Since we no longer have a garbage disposal, the chickens take care of everything left-over. I try not to let the garbage spoil though.

When we first bought the acreage, I had a great area outside the kitchen door for my compost pile. I figured it would be very convenient to throw everything out there each evening. Well, since the chickens came, there isn't any compost!


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RE: People-food for chickens

Much of my vegetable garden is past now, and as often as I harvest the good ones for my family, I sometimes harvest a bucket of rejects for the chickens. By getting rid of the gross stuff, it makes harvesting what's good easier the next day.

My kids love to dig up worms and hand-feed them to the chickens.

I have a pond overrun with duckweed, and every day I scoop out a swimming-pool net of that for my ducks/geese.

--Jonathan


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RE: People-food for chickens

I read from a post (here, I think) that chickens will eat anything that doesn't eat them first. Mine have been getting my over ripe asian pears-they love those. They also like leftover spaghetti with meat sauce and pretty much everything else I have left over.

Rainbow Meal Worms is a great mail order source for mealworms, if anyone is looking. I used to order from them when I had sugargliders.


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RE: People-food for chickens

The old timer's cure to chickens pecking each other is to give the pickers a can of dog food.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Hi.I have read through the posts here and have a few questions which I hope you can answer.cat food,is that dry cat food,biscuits or tinned food (also same question about dog food).corn on the cob,carrots,cabbage etc,is that all cooked or raw.Also I assume pasta is cooked. I have recently got some rescued ex battery hens who are having mash and corn at mo but I would like to give them more of a variety of foods.Thankyou in advance for any replies.


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RE: People-food for chickens

I give our hens canned cat food for a protein boost--they turned up their beaks at the dry food. Also, the pasta is cooked, as are most of the vegetables (that is because they are table scraps) although some rejects from the garden are enjoyed raw, except carrots. Our girls will NOT eat raw carrots, just cooked. I go easy on broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower so their eggs won't be tainted. If you aren't getting eggs, it doesn't matter.
They absolutely love saltine crackers--but I make sure to get the unsalted kind (unsalted saltines? Oxymoron?).
Just be sure not to give them so many treats that they don't get enough of their balanced mash, which has all the vitamins, minerals, and other good things that chickens need.
How nice of you to give rescued hens a home!


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Mine love canned cat food,I feed potato peelings that are not green and carrot and celery and cabbage scraps and any other stale stuff or food that would otherwise be pitched at church.I'm sure I fed chocolate cake before I read that it is toxic.A friend said we don't feed our chickens anything that wouldn't be healthy for us(like a lot of fat)Mine get way too many goodies,all the garden scraps and worms and grubs when I find them Too.Posy Pet


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marlingardener...
Thankyou for the info.I will buy a can of catfood to see if they like it or not.I still can't believe that just because a hen doesn't lay 1 egg a day they are sent for slaughter!!
posy_pet...
Do you cook the potato etc peelings before you give them to the chickens?


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If you're worried about getting soft-shelled eggs (Meaning they're not getting enough calcium) either the crushed oyster shell or you can bake your 'home-grown' eggs shells at 200 degrees for 10 minutes then crush them and then feed them back to your chickens. Should fix that problem in a day or two. :) I don't feed them shells from store-bought eggs...too much chance of them getting bad bacteria....


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Hi everyone,
I have a problem with my chickens. ot is very frustrating. I got them from auction about Two montsh ago as Point of lay Hens I have Three Black Rocks and One Welsummer Bantam. I am feeding with a mix of layers pellets and cracked corn, someone said to me to mix the feed together so they get a good mixture of the feed. so i did this now my hens are scratching all the pellets out and eating the corn and leaving the rest laying on the ground. my hens are very fussy and when there feed goes on the ground they wont touch it AT ALL!!!!! so becasue of this i am now giving them a wide mixture of greens,vegetables small amount of bread and corn on the cobs (which they actually jump for).

Today I moved my hens into a movable run i made so they can eat the grass and have some exercise, and noticed they are a litlle thin for my liking. I dont like thin animals but i dont like fat ones either. can anyone give me some tips on how to fatten them up and give me some hints on why they have kinda gone off laying, i was getting a egg from each every day and now im lucky if i get one.

please help I dont want to loose my �45 each birds.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Your spoiled little chicken/children have decided that they only want to eat ice cream and you have knuckled under.

Stop feeding treats. Put them on straight layer pellets and nothing else.

Corn is a treat. It is chicken candy and you are letting them fill up on candy and they aren't eating their good food.


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love my chickens, they all have names and come when they are called, they love meal worms!! I've learned alot here...didn't know about mac and cheese nor about dog food for the pecking problem. Thank you~


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RE: People-food for chickens

The only thing we don't feed the birds (Chickens and Turkeys) is citrus and fish. The dog gets the meat, and the birds get everything else. They get pelleted feed in the Spring and Summer, and scratch in the Winter. I also have two feed buckets, one for the dog, one for the birds. Our birds come flying whenever they see the bucket. I don't ever go to the pantry for them...but they get everything from the garden, and weeds. They also get lots of clover to fill up on, and supplement their feed.
All of you guys have some great ideas. Though, I would NEVER give chocolate to the birds...I am too selfish.


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I am a farm girl, raise chickens to lay for me and my family. Sell the rest. I have and always will feed my chickens all kinds of scraps, never made them go off laying. Chickens are really not picky..they will eat all kinds of things - at least my chickens will. But then again, they are just chickens, not my pets.


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RE: People-food for chickens

Will chickens will eat roadkill?.... I think the roadkill would be safer in winter with everything frozen. Might save me some money on feed.


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