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Greens for Hens!
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Gertie



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 1638
Location: Yorkshire
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 4:47 pm    Post subject: Greens for Hens!  Reply with quote    

As you may already know - our hens have arrived and we have had them a week - they are ex-battery hens and are obviously just used to having basic rations.

As we are new to hen keeping I am worried about messing about with their diet, so they are on layers mash and when they are out during the day in their enclosure I give them some grain with grit on the ground and some mash in a feeder to keep them busy during the day. We gave them a cabbage last weekend which a kind neighbouring allotmenteer gave us - they loved it.

Have given them some parsley out of our garden - just wondered as I have a few herbs growing is there anything else I could give them for a change?

Also we aren't weighing their food intake - just giving on a ad lib basis - is this OK?

Any comments/advice glady received.

Nanny



Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 4520
Location: carms in wales
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 4:53 pm    Post subject: greens for hens Reply with quote    

let them have it ad lib i think...they ration themselves really..as for greens - well anything that they will eat. sometimes it takes a go or two for them to realise that whatever it is is edible but once they get the hang of it they'll be up for nearly anything and they seem to know what's nice and what isn't

lettuces when you have them out of the garden and any brassicas...mine aren't keen on carrots or anything in the onion family like leeks but they decimated what was left of the sprouts and broccoli and stuff like that.....they don't seem to like tomatoes or jerusalem artichokes they like the comfrey i cut for them

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

If you only want them to produce plenty of eggs then layers mash or pellets is all they should need, apart from some extra grit depending on how they forage.

However, to keep them interested I tend to tie up some cabbage leaves or a small cabbage thining from the garden. I also give them apple cores or apples when spare. When the hens are in the garden they eat grass & other greenstuff, many fruits - including tomatoes, and as many pests as they can find.

I'm not sure about add lib layers feed as sometimes our hens will stuff themselves. As for corn, wheat only is best and don't feed them too much as a fat hen will not lay that well and you may get problems.

There are a few more details in the feeding hen article.

As for herbs, try sage and onion.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Ours are fond of the sorrel but we suspect they shouldn't be eating it, so it's not encouraged. They're quite fond of salad burnet at times (in fact I have some seed you can have, although it's a bit old and I'm not sure it'll germinate, so you might be better off with a plant or some new seed...you're very welcome to some if you want though).

One thing I'd say is if you give them something and they don't seem to like it, and you've checked it's appropriate for them, don't assume they won't eat it. As Nanny says sometimes it takes them a while to realise you aren't trying to poison them, and ours, being spoilt, are fussy, some times they'll go mad over a quarter of a bit of fruit, other times they'll turn around and eat dirt with a hurt look on their beaks. Although I do have an overactive imagination.

Kirstie



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Scotland
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hi, our hens love carrots, cabbages, kale, fresh garden peas and purple sprouting broccoli. And you can feed them scraps from the table they love whole potato boiled in their skins and a pinch of salt and then mixed with bran, middlings or biscuit meal to make up a wet mash, fish scraps(minus the bones), potato peelings bits of pudding and bacon rind if you include with wet mash, the scraps must be fresh.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You shouldn't give hens much, if any, added salt. It's in layers food so if that's their main food they shouldn't need anymore.

Bacon rind is actually against the law if you sell eggs I think, not sure if you only use them youself. All part of the BSE changes and not feeding mamal products to other animals.

Kirstie



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Scotland
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hi Treacodactyl, I give them a pich of salt not much at all. The bacon rind is allowed providing it's for my consumption Im led to believe, I dont actually sell eggs however I do give them away to family and friends so I am not sure where I stand there, although they do say they are the best eggs they have ever tasted

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I do like to point out things for other people to be aware so if you know what you're doing good luck.

I'm not sure if I agree with the laws and I must admit if you can find details they are hard for smallholders or back garden hen keepers to know if they apply.

I think our hens would love a very rare steak, mash and peas - with a glass of fizzy wine.

Kirstie



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Scotland
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 05 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Treacodactyl, was glad to have it pointed out, with 30 poultry I was actually thinking of selling the eggs but now I dont know where I stand, so guess I will leave out the bacon rind

And thanks for the tip on the salt, when I first started with poultry I read all the books I could find on the subject and this was recommended in one of them, shall have to be more careful in future.

But the wine without the fizz I could do with some more of that myself...

cede



Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 62
Location: surrey
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 05 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

my hens seem to eat any greens that i give them - when i weed the veg garden i throw the weeds straight into their run and they nab them immediately. forget me nots and creeping buttercup are rife and their run used to be overrun with ground elder but they have stripped it bare. i have had to put up protection around the plum tree because last summer they kept flying up to strip the branches!

Gertie



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 1638
Location: Yorkshire
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 05 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
As for herbs, try sage and onion.


Here, Treacodactyl, were you pulling my plonker - they haven't touched the sage and are spending the morning kicking an onion around the enclosure

Seriously, I took them some parsley and mint down and they loved it - did take a bit of sage - have left that

Whilst we were down the allotment the hens left us a pressie of 3 eggs this morning - two are large and the third is tiny and a darker brown - it was still warm when I took it out of the nest box - otherwise I would have thought they had been taking in lodgers overnight!!!

Must take a piccie - hmmmn, now I need to really spend time and check mrsnesbitt's blond guide to posting pics on downsizer (I'm a bottle brunette!!!)

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 05 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

what about other weeds? Are nettles ok for them?

The poultry farm said no Rhubarb, Lettuce, green spuds or dafs.

Ours are particularly fond of left over cooked peas ( when a certain cook pours the frozen ones in a pan and doesn't realise how many she's poured out!) and mash potato ( I don't add salt to my cooking) cake is also pecked at greedily. They also like Swiss Chard and dandelion leaves.

Lloyd



Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 2699

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 05 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hens love to eat, full stop. If they have an area feasible enough for proper daily exercise then they will not grow fat. If their area is so small as to make them fat, then keep them for cooking. Nature is always a clear guide.

Last edited by Lloyd on Wed Apr 13, 05 11:24 am; edited 1 time in total

percypony



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 146
Location: Hants
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 05 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Our girls absolutley love pasta. Spaghetti especially as I think they think they are worms!
What's did the breeder say the problem was with lettuce Julie??? Ours love lettuce and I usually buy them one once a week when I go shopping. Maybe I shouldn't?

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 05 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Our hens spend at least some time most days free ranging around our garden which is more than ample for them (there may be room for a couple of small goats ). What I have noted about them is:

If you let them out to free range all day they often hardly touch their layers pellets. The hens eat all manner of things from slugs & snails to grass, seeds, fruit and veg. However, if they do this for a few days their egg production does reduce.

If you feed mixed corn add lib then our hens will stuff themselves and not eat much else. The same will go for bread, pasta etc and I'm not prepared to see what happens over time to see if they do die from being overweight. If there is a plentiful supply of corn they are less inclined to move round the garden, they simply stay in one place.

After reading the advice of well respected poultry experts they consistently say hens can get fat and this can cause problems for them laying and be harmful. So, like humans, a balanced diet would seem best. This for most will consist of a layers ration and some fruit and veg but don't overdo the treats.

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