What do you feed your chickens?

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What do you feed your chickens?

Postby Marigold » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:05 pm

Whilst waiting for my new flock to start laying, I'm wondering what would be best to feed them on. I fed Garvo for some years until my local supplier stopped stocking it because he said too many of the plastic bags split to be economic for him. As delivery from the next Garvo supplier along the way was prohibitive, I changed to Dodson & Horrell, because Pets at Home will deliver for free and the pellets are made from good quality ingredients. This has been perfectly satisfactory, the hens have liked it and the eggs have been lovely.
I've been buying a lot of eggs recently, and became interested in what was on offer on the Waitrose site. I prefer to buy organic eggs in the hope that the hens will have been treated that much better if cutting cost isn't the bottom line for the farmer, and that their food will have been more nutritious than the bog-standard stuff fed to most commercial hens. 6 medium-sized organic eggs cost £2.43, (40.5p each.)
Waitrose also offer 'Omega-3 eggs' at £1.79 for 6, (29.8p each.) These are not organic, hence the difference in price, but claim to be a

"Natural source of protein, vitamins A, B2, B12 & D. Eggs laid by British farm hens, fed on a natural Omega 3 diet. Great for the whole family!. All Intelligent Eating eggs are produced on Lion approved British Free Range farms, the Lion mark is your guarantee that these are quality eggs laid by British hens vaccinated against salmonella."

Of course most of this is advertising nonsense, it applies to all eggs, and all commercial hens will have been vaccinated up to their eyeballs to resist diseases in their crowded conditions. I then looked up what an 'Omega-3 egg' consists of. Turns out that hemp seed or hemp seed oil has been added to their pellets, and since hemp is high in Omega-3, enough gets through into the egg - although overdosing causes a fishy taste. I am surprised that the 'Intelligent Eating omega-3 egg people' don't combine this nutritional advantage with organic feed, as you'd imagine the same customers might like both. Anyway, apparently anyone can add hemp seed or oil to their hens' feed and get additional Omega -3 for breakfast. (Or of course, you could just cook with hemp seed oil without passing it through your hens first.)
So then I went on to investigate which organic layers pellets have extra Omega-3 oil and I came up with The Organic Feed Company at £14.53 for 20 kilos and Allen & Page at a rather eyebrow-raising £20.40 for 20 kilos. Carriage on each of these adds about £16 to the order, but the Organic Feed Co. has a stockist near to me which would cut out delivery charges. At the other end of the scale, I could have bought ordinary layers pellets at the farm my pullets came from for £7.50 for 20 kilos.
Since I go to a great deal of trouble and expense to give my hens the best life possible, and to enable them to produce the most nutritious eggs in return, for me it's worth giving them top quality food- you only get out what goes in, after all. And with only 5 to feed, cost isn't so important to me as it might be if I had more beaks to feed. But what is the best value, and is this necessarily the most expensive? What do you feed your flock, and which factors are most important to you?
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby Icemaiden » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:41 am

Hi Marigold.
I've always fed my click on Allen & Page Smallholder Layers' Pellets (if I could afford them, I'd buy the organic version). As a scientist by training, I don't want to give them GM feed as I want to eat the eggs without consuming GM tainted food.

That's my twopenn'orth...
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby valeriebutterley » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:04 am

Allen & Page smallholder layers' pellets, mine seem to love it an thrive.
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby Marigold » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:05 am

They're lovely, and at £9.76 are a medium-priced option, with extra omega-3 and as you say, non-GM. I guess the end price depends on whether you need to pay for delivery, for all brands. For me, organic is equally important as GM, bearing in mind how much chemical spray goes on to non-organic cereal crops - I make our own bread from organic flour, and buy organic milk for this reason.
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby chrismahon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:53 pm

We buy Sanders Poulet Pondeuse (laying hens) in 25Kg bags which we have to order specially as it isn't stocked down here anywhere, although it was in the Dordogne (and very expensive there as everything is). It's designed for pullets from 21 to 45 weeks so includes a lot of good stuff like vitamins and probiotics and has no colourants. But it's only 15.5% protein?

On my shopping list for May is bags of mixed grit, which can't be bought here. The reason is feed is stocked based on traditional poultry keeping which means mixed grains scatter fed with crushed oystershell for the Calcium. However people do keep small flocks in runs and feed pellets, which is a new thing, but no-one seems to have twigged the Calcium imbalance problems or digestive need for grit so flint and insoluble Calcium grit isn't available.
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby NicolsT » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:10 pm

I can't help feeling there's a business opportunity there Chrismahon! So much stuff like that, we can't get in France...obviously we can't re-educate the entire French chicken-keeping fraternity re: the need for grit, but there is a decided lack of good chickeny stuff about. I can get to the Dordogne (can virtually lob a pebble at it!) but the prices are eye-watering! I see that Gamme Vert have just started stocking pellets locally, but I didn't much like the look of them! Have been speaking to one of the many British delivery drivers who live in this region about doing a big monthly order (or bi-monthly) which would be delivered to his warehouse in Southampton, for him. to drive down here, but the costs mount up..not like popping into Wynnstay for a bag of grit, or even an order to Farm and Pet delivered for next to nothing two days later.
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby LadyA » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:44 pm

I feed mine organic Layers pellets, and they forage for themselves in a very large, enclosed pen, which in Summer, has grass, but at the moment, grass is sparse! And they also get a very small handful of organic mixed corn between them in the evening.
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Re: What do you feed your chickens?

Postby MrsBiscuit » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:50 pm

A&P Smallholder, mostly because it was small pellets and so suitable for my small bantam polands, but also the GM free element was important to me. Otherwise I sometimes used Marriages, as they all seemed to like it when I used it with the flubenvet in, and it certainly smelt like chicken feed ought to :D The stats were pretty good as well as far as I remember, in terms of protein etc.

In Portugal I fear chooks would be on whatever pellets I could find, beggars can't be choosers, or as Chris says, perhaps I would switch to a mainly grain diet as most people do, largely maize which is not good for them, supplemented with the national dish.....cabbage! Seriously, I wouldn't be able to free range my stock on good quality pasture which is what I did in the UK, as the grass is non-existent here between May and October. I would find it quite difficult, keeping to hard feed but I'd have to.
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