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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:34 am 
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Dapper Duck
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Hi all

I have just bought my first chickens (10 silkies, one crossed with leghorn and one with wyondotte) which we are raising for pets and eggs. I am wanting to feed them as naturally as possible according to what they have naturally evolved to eat. I am not wanting to use commercial layer pellets or mash as I don't want them to eat cooked food or some of the ingredients in the pellets or mash.

So far they forage in my garden for grass and bugs and I am feeding them wheat, sorgham, cracked corn and sunflower seeds. They also get kitchen leftovers of fruit and vegetables. I am giving them ground oyster shell for calcium but feel this is very unnatural.

I want to increase their protein levels to boost egg production and thought I would increase the sunflower seeds to 20% of the grains they are given as it is much higher in protein than the other grains. My other thought would be to give them nuts. I have found little information on the net about feeding nuts to chickens but did read that wild jungle fowl (from which the domestic chicken is supposed to have decended) ate nuts (among other things) and thought that nuts could be good for them and a way of increasing protein.

Any ideas/thoughts anyone?

Thanks

Anne


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:34 pm 
If you want to do it naturally, I would not increase any one item, but introduce protein. Add meat to their diet, this can do done in several ways. Buy some meat meal, or blood and bone, or some dog bones or some pet mince, or raise meal worms.

Meat is a natural food for poultry, they already eat bugs and worms, so you just have decide what effort you are prepared to done and how natural the food must be.

As with increasing sunflower, sunflower has a high oil content, which can lead to problems with their feathers.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:17 pm 
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Great Game
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Really respect what you're doing, and have much the same thing in mind for my own chookies.

I though, am feeding them pellets for the mean time, until i am totally confident that i can give them an appropriate 'home made' diet. But the pellets i give them are vegeterian organic... so i don't feel sooo bad :)

Bugs really are a natural protein source for them. The thing is, you don't really know how much your garden is giving them.
So try breeding insects - meal worms (huge thread about on here), earth worms, crickets (there's lots of info bout them on the net), etc.
Set up bug traps for various things.

Do be careful about the sunflower seeds... i can't remember what it is but someone once warned me about the various sorts - grey, stripey, black - some are better than others, some cause problems.

Other protein sources:
native wattle seeds
mung beans
lima or aduzuki beans
seasame seeds
soy grit

You could try gowing tagasate and pigeon pea.

If your chooks are free ranging, then 'free choice feeding' would work well for them.
Give them a dish of 'protein' (in whatever form) and see how much of it they eat (once they've gotten used to the taste). If they gobble it all down, as well as there other feed, they'll need more, if they don't eat much of it, they already getting enough.
They should, in a proper free range/free choice system, be able to pick teirown levels.

Quote:
I am wanting to feed them as naturally as possible according to what they have naturally evolved to eat...

I want to increase their protein levels to boost egg production


Just remember, "boosting" egg production, isn't exactly a 'natural' thing ;) so just keep in mind what you are wanting out of this.

Cheers.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:13 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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if you want your chcikens to eat 100% natural food i suggest you hop on a plane with your chooks and fly to a rainforest somwhere liek asia....chickens naturaly found in forests and they would be eating fallen fruits bugs and greens growing on the bottom of the forrest. They would get the calcium several different places....if you want to boost your eggs you need to keep giving them the oyster shell(give some cunundram grit as well) the layer pellets and mash are formulated to give your chickens the nutrition they actually need. Chickens can live very long very happy lives on these food. You can let them free range in your backyard but i would leave out some layer pellet for them so at the end of they day if they havnt found adaquet food they can have a munch on the pellets that way theyll be getting nutrition and youll be getting eggs

silkies are good chickens but they arnt the best forages/free rangers

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:14 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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if you want your chcikens to eat 100% natural food i suggest you hop on a plane with your chooks and fly to a rainforest somwhere liek asia....chickens naturaly found in forests and they would be eating fallen fruits bugs and greens growing on the bottom of the forrest. They would get the calcium several different places....if you want to boost your eggs you need to keep giving them the oyster shell(give some cunundram grit as well) the layer pellets and mash are formulated to give your chickens the nutrition they actually need. Chickens can live very long very happy lives on these food. You can let them free range in your backyard but i would leave out some layer pellet for them so at the end of they day if they havnt found adaquet food they can have a munch on the pellets that way theyll be getting nutrition and youll be getting eggs

silkies are good chickens but they arnt the best forages/free rangers

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learning is like eating an elephant

One bite at a time , or you will get a sore belly


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:14 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
Fiesty Fowl

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 8:03 pm
Posts: 1210
Location: South Coast
if you want your chcikens to eat 100% natural food i suggest you hop on a plane with your chooks and fly to a rainforest somwhere liek asia....chickens naturaly found in forests and they would be eating fallen fruits bugs and greens growing on the bottom of the forrest. They would get the calcium several different places....if you want to boost your eggs you need to keep giving them the oyster shell(give some cunundram grit as well) the layer pellets and mash are formulated to give your chickens the nutrition they actually need. Chickens can live very long very happy lives on these food. You can let them free range in your backyard but i would leave out some layer pellet for them so at the end of they day if they havnt found adaquet food they can have a munch on the pellets that way theyll be getting nutrition and youll be getting eggs

silkies are good chickens but they arnt the best forages/free rangers

_________________
learning is like eating an elephant

One bite at a time , or you will get a sore belly


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:15 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 8:03 pm
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what the heck? :oops:

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learning is like eating an elephant

One bite at a time , or you will get a sore belly


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:48 pm 
I agree with Chooky2005, commercial feeds do have a "balanced" diet, but the problem is, what is used to make up the “balanced” diet?

I only use commercial feeds for my growing birds, so I know the protein levels and thus my birds grow to full potential. But after 12 weeks, I place them on my own blend and depending of the type of bird and what I am going to use it for, will determine the blend I use.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:00 pm 
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Golden Swan
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I really have no detailed idea of what nutrients chooks need (just a general one) but I would caution you about not providig some source of Calcium, as in their 'natural' Jungle Fowl state they wouldn't be laying nearly the number of eggs that modern breeds lay so their need for calcium would be far less. The same probably applies ot protein too.

Not much positive help, just something to consider.

NellyG

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:36 pm 
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Superior Bird
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I suspect the real difference between what is sold as organic chook food and normal chook food is in the label on the bag. To be sure you'd have to trace all the way back to farm and I guess watch for an entire year.

Most stockfeeds such as grain etc. are byproducts of the normal human food industry and become stockfeed because it's graded lower or oversupply.

I'm very sceptical about what is sold as organic is actually what you guys are looking for.

Pellets aren't cooked as such, some steam is added to make it easier to go through a pellet die and to ensure pellets "bind".


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:57 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Hi everyone

Thanks for the replies.

Anne


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 11:10 am 
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Champion Bird
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Hi Anne, I've been reading this thread with interest as when I started out with chooks I was determined to feed them "naturally" as well. I used Jade Woodhouse's book as a guide. Sunflower seeds are a large part of the protein quota, but need to be limited as the high fat content can cause problems. After experimenting with various protein sources and other foods, I was advised to add pellets to the available choices for the chooks just to be sure about the balance of nutrients, especially protein. The theory being that the chooks will eat what they need as long as choices are available. I sourced a certified biodynamic chook crumble that contains fish meal instead of meat. This is great but it is hard to get and not always available (pm me if you want details), so sometimes I have to go back to the commercial pellets. I use crumbles as the base for their breakfast mash (not cooked but if the weather is very cold I warm it with hot water or milk) and add grated fresh vegies, pulses etc. plus any supplements required (brewers yeast, calcium powder, codliver oil etc ...do a search here for supplements if you need to find out more). The chooks also have access to crumbles/pellets all the time (they tend to have a nibble as soon as they get up in the morning) and at night they get a scattered handful each of mixed BD grains with sunflower seeds comprising about 20% of the mix. As well they free range all day every day in about 1/3 acre, so get lots of live protein and fresh greens etc. plus sunshine and exercise. I also give them fruit occasionally or they pick it up from the ground in season. In all health matters, I believe a combination of "natural" and "commercial" usually works well for all concerned. It did take me quite a while to settle on the best combination of foods...don't be afraid to experiment a bit, as long as the basics are in place. (re calcium: I have grit, cuttlefish and sandy soil/gravel always available, plus a pinch of DCP powder daily in breakfast, plus dolomite occasionally sprinkled around, plus egg shell and whole egg a couple of times a week). Cheers, Judy

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:44 pm 
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Hatchling
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Reading this thread, I was wondering about the protein part. If you had a surplus of eggs and you cooked them up (well cooked maybe with a few veg scraps) would this be okay? Eggs are full of protein. Is there anything wrong with giving chickens cooked eggs?

Thanks for your comments

wendy


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:43 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Hi Wendy,

Chooks love cooked egg. I hardboil them and mash them up, shells included. I usually only give them if one isn't well or if they break an egg. Too much is too fattening for them. so yes, in moderation it is fine. Sandy includes one in her sick chook formula too.

NellyG

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:36 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Cooked egg is also a good protein source during moulting when extra protein helps feather growth.

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