Feeding backyard hens

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Tompeters

Feeding backyard hens

I've got three Copper Star hens bought POL, two now laying for three weeks the other is still being a lazy lass.

I weigh the eggs (two) each day and I'm finding that if we give more than just a little kitchen bits (veg bits, bread, toast, etc) then the eggs get a bit smaller. Mind you, the hens like it and we want them to have a good life, not just a productive life! The difference is quite large....from 55g to 65g!

Not enough data yet to be conclusive but I know many of you keep hens, and might be able to advise as I am a first-timer (and am actually finding I like the hens and enjoy them which I never thought I'd do).

Many thanks.

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Thistledo

Feeding backyard hens

Tomps, |I used to keep hens - most enjoyable!
I take it yours are still very young and I think you'll find that as they get older, the eggs will become larger.
Used to feed ours on plenty of greens and pellets containing maize. The maize makes the yolks nice and golden.
In the depths of winter, cook up peelings, ie potatoes, parsnips and other root veg and serve very warm. They love it and helps to warm them up. Mind you, whilst cooking, it'll stink the place out, lol.

When your hens started laying, did you get some nice double yolkers?

Good luck!

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Welshcookie

Chickens

Tom, you don't make it very clear whether you are feeding scraps in addition to a proper layers ration of bought in food, or whether you expect your growing hens to subsist on kitchen scraps.
Too many scraps will make fat hens.

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Tompeters

Feeding backyard hens

WC -- Layers' Pellets are their staple and we don't feed any other things until well after lunchtime -- though they free-range in a large area that we keep moving so lots of lovely bugs and seeds, and things. I'm especially concerned about them getting fat but I don't know how to tell a fat one from a skinny one!

I've discovered how to attract earwigs into a little plastic pot...which they adore. Can I let them have as many as they like?

T'do -- We had one double-yolker a day for several weeks now the two eggs are both singles and around 60g. Yes, it is fun but I find that I actually like the hens. Is that sad?

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SonyaK

Feeding backyard hens

Well I don't think it's sad, Tomps :)
I don't remember forming any great fondness for hens when we kept them, but I know many people do. Friends we visited in UK recently have 3 hens and they certainly like them and fuss over them, and I found them a very attractive breed!
If you're going to keep animals then I think it's good if you can enjoy having them around!

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maggie-

Hens

Do they have names Tom? : )

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Thistledo

Hens

Tomps, with just a small amount of hens it's understandable you become 'attached' but strongly advise you don't name them. If you do, they then become pets and you know what it's like losing a pet!
Hens can pretty well look after themselves. You can easily find out how much to feed them by Googling. If they can peck away on the ground, that keeps them occupied and if they can have a dust bath, that's good too because it helps get rid of parasites. Hens are prone to have lice so you should check for that occasionally. Again, you can buy a powder for that.
They're so funny to watch aren't they?

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Thistledo

Hens

Tomps, I forgot to mention that when hens stop eating greedily, like food's going out of fashion, then they've had enough.

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Tompeters

Feeding backyard hens

Sonya, thanks, I'm sure you're right. I used to think hens were even more stupid than sheep. But they're not, are they? ;)

maggie, T'do -- I wasn't going to but I wanted to be able to distinguish between them specially as we are beginners. So we called them A, B and C, you see? Then my wife wanted to give them proper names for the sake of the grandchildren and all her suggestions were so stereotyped. Having had a cat I called 'Cat' (well, 'Catandthatsthat' was her full name) and our present kitten 'Richard Parker' who was once a girl, the standard names seemed out of place. So we have:

Abigail
Beatrix
Charlotte

Well, you did ask :)

T'do, that's interesting about the food. They do tire of the Layers' Pellets but I leave them there all day. The are always greedy for the hen mix containing seeds and maize which they eat from my hand like food has gone out of fashion. But I only give them a tablespoon or two each, daily. My wife throws some of the other stuff in during the day, after lunch. What doesn't get eaten attracts some insects which is good grub for a hen, I believe?

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Thistledo

Feeding backyard hens

Tomps, Charming names but you'll be sorry, mark my words, lol!
Sheep thicker than chickens? I don't think so. Their brains are pea-sized and there's only so much that fits into a brain that size. Their actions are pure instinctive. It's about survival, like most animals.
They are also rather cannibelistic so watch out for that. If a hen becomes sore in its nether regions the others will find it and peck away. It's gross. You would have to separate the injured hen from the others until it's healed.
Regards,
Chick Doc, lol.

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Tompeters

Feeding backyard hens

T'do, well, my wife always goes on about her being a farmer's daughter, names, slaughtering, eviscerating and so on. Personally I find it the revolting side of eating meat. So when the time comes I'll give her the chopper and a board :)

I'll keep an eye open for the pecking and cannibal issues, thanks.

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Welshcookie

Feeding hens

If they are not gobbling up the layers pellets straight away you are over-feeding them. If there is food left out all day you will attract magpies, rats and other undesirables.
As your hens have access to free-range, pen them until they have eaten all their food up or take away the excess before you let them out.
A handful of a grain mix is useful to tempt them back to the pen at roosting time. But do not feed in the house if you can help it or you will attract rats.
Most chickens lay before ten in the morning so that is a good time to let them out to free-range.
Remember they are still growing so they should have good quality food, and scraps are variable.

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Tompeters

Feeding backyard hens

Thanks, both T'do and WC. I have taken the pellets out, now and will monitor them, and the size of their eggs. Thanks again :)

 
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