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Chickens not eating pellets

(15 Posts)
callaird Sun 07-Aug-11 17:20:41

My dad has three chickens, has had them for about 6 weeks and they are around 23 weeks old, they aren't eating their layers pellets. They eat anything and everything else (including flying into the compost heap and tearing up teabags!)

One is laying daily and the other two seem to be laying every 4 days or so.

The pellets are in one of these which is hanging from the roof of the coop at chicken head height to discourage rats, the chickens can reach it ok. They just don't seem to eat it.

Dad empties it out every 4 days or so and replaces it with fresh, has tried mixing it with corn (which they love) sweetcorn and tinned peas(!) but they flick the pellets out.

I have 3 chickens also, they eat around a pint jug full of pellets a day and will eat sweetcorn, rice, pasta, salad stuff and bread but not alot else and all three lay daily, two are 23 weeks and the other is over a year old. They have an egloo and a run of around 6' x 12'.

Dad is wondering if the reason they are not laying every day is down to the fact they are not eating the pellets and if so, how to get them to eat the pellets? They have free range of the garden (40' x 35') and are constantly pecking at the grass/veg patch/bark chipping flower bed (also now their dust bath) and a long damp alley way that goes nowhere but has tonnes of spiders and bugs!

Any advice greatly received!

TIA

MissBeehiving Sun 07-Aug-11 22:21:01

Most chickens will eat anything apart from pellets if they can but the pellets do contain protein which will enable regular laying. If they aren't getting enough protein from their diet then they won't lay. I don't let mine out to free range or give them anything else until the afternoon so I know that they have fed enough.

UnSerpentQuiCourt Mon 08-Aug-11 21:42:26

I think you are right; they need to eat those pellets. Could he try keeping them confined in the morning until they have eaten? Layers' rations also exist in the form of mash - not sure if that would help, unless he could stir it in with foods they do like?

virgiltracey Mon 08-Aug-11 21:48:27

they're not eating the pellets because they are eating other stuff. at this time of year they will find loads of bugs, plants etc to eat and if your dad is giving them other stuff too them why would they eat the layers pellets? Can he keep them in their run for an hour each morning with nothing but the pellets and the water? if he can then they will eat the pellets since there will be nothing else!!

virgiltracey Mon 08-Aug-11 21:49:10

what type of hens are they?

BogChicken Mon 08-Aug-11 21:55:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nickelbabe Tue 09-Aug-11 15:57:16

1) only ever put enough food in to last one day (it's about 4.5oz per bird per day)
make sure it's removed at night and replaced in the morning
2) if they're onew, it's probably because they were raised on Layers' Mash, not pellets, and they don't understnad that pellets are their food. (if they're tearing open teabags, maybe they're looking for somethign that looks like their food?)
go to your local farm shop and get a bag of mash. Then see what happens.

3) don't let them have any treats.

nickelbabe Tue 09-Aug-11 15:58:21

4) definitely definitely definitely don't give them corn in with their food. corn is like chips for chickens - if they know it's there, they won't eat the rest of their dinner.

MissBeehiving Tue 09-Aug-11 16:39:40

yy nickelbabe. Corn has virtually no nutritional value.

MakkaPakkasWilly Wed 10-Aug-11 12:28:02

Also, Omlet sell organic chicken food (a layers mix), £16 for 20kg, it's the same as pellets but not formed as such. Mine love it much more than pellets... but that said, since switching to the pellets I get a lot more/better quality eggs hmm

Worth considering if you are desperate though

callaird Wed 10-Aug-11 18:18:58

Thank you for all your advice.

He has been keeping them in the coop/run until later and they are eating more pellets.

He has had one egg every day and two eggs every other day so it looks like the other two are laying more often.

We have just partitioned off the garden so they now have 35'x10' and no access to the veg patch and the bug filled alley way. So hopefully eating less. Although we dug a hole in their portion of the garden, as they used flower beds and veg beds as a dust bath and no longer have access to those, and it was filled with worms, so they had a huge feed there!

Also, dad cannot help himself giving them treats! He loves that they come running over to him as soon as they see him because they know that he will feed them, but he has started to treat them late afternoon instead of all day.

Thank you all again for your help.

virgiltracey Wed 10-Aug-11 20:03:09

If he really can't stop himself then try giving them pasta as their treat.

make sure they have plenty of water since this is vital for laying.

What breeds are they? it might just be that they are breeds which don't lay very frequently.

nickelbabe Thu 11-Aug-11 11:55:16

pasta is a bad idea - it's not got any goodness in.

they really don't need a treat at all - if he's desperate to give them treats, then greens are the only way to go.
that's what makes the yolks so orange.

callaird Fri 12-Aug-11 13:52:31

I don't know what breed they are, I think they are high brids. Just your common or garden brown hens. The lady he got them from said they should lay daily.

The treats he gives them are cheese, lettuce, corn on the cob, rice or cucumber and any vegetable leftovers from their dinner.

Two of them are laying daily and the thrid is laying every other day so he is much happier! Of course, now they are over run with eggs!

Thanks all.

nickelbabe Fri 12-Aug-11 13:54:44

i'm gladthey seem to be laying now - that sounds about right.
each hen will lay around 6 per week anyway.
smile

definitely tell him to keep off the treats!
(lettuce will be fine, and possibly veg leftovers later in the evening when it's still summer)
grin

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