You Can’t Go Cheap On The Chicken Feed

We’ve learned another lesson the hard way: You can’t go cheap on the chicken feed… At least not if you want to get eggs!

We switched up the laying mash for a cheaper corn feed and couldn’t understand why all of a sudden we weren’t getting any more eggs! We finally figured out the connection. But instead of feeding them straight laying mash again, which is about $5 more expensive per bag, we’ve decided to mix the laying and corn feed half and half.

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(Baby Xia helping me feed the chickens)

HOPEFULLY they will start laying again soon!

In the meantime, we got 3 more chickens from my parents in law. (Gotta love free hens!) And one is a Rhode Island Red, which I’ve really been wanting to get. I’d love to have a bunch of them running around!

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Here she is, Big Mama. She gives beautiful large brown eggs. I’m so glad to have her! She has been laying every other day so far. And one of the white chickens finally laid her first egg the other day. Hopefully things will start rolling again in the egg department!

So now our chicken count is up to 13 (we just lost one to a hawk a couple of days ago). 2 are Roosters, the rest are Hens.

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(Jada and Dirty Wilson)

We’ve decided to let the Roosters completely free range and fend for themselves. They have plenty of feed to peck off the ground underneath the hens coops though. This way they won’t be eating all of the expensive laying mash that won’t do them any good anyways.

I’d love to build a run to let them all free range. Just another one of the hundreds of projects to do around here! Eventually we’ll get one built.

Anyone have any advice on what to feed the hens to get them laying better?

Kendra
About Kendra 1123 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

12 Comments

  1. I agree with Michelle. When we had hens, they free ranged and we got an egg almost every day from each hen… no roosters either. I gave them scratch in the morning as I let them out; but it was more like giving a dog a biscuit. Protein and adequate calcium make good eggs. When we turned the compost, they gobbled up Japanese larvae like candy… and we often got huge double yolked eggs the next day. We had some volunteer wheat come up in the garden where we had laid straw for compost. We laughed so when it matured; because our hens used teamwork to jump up and knock the seeds loose… rather like watching kids break open a pinata. lol. They were great at keeping the weeds and insects down in the garden once the plants were established (they eat seedlings). Calcium was an issue at times. I could tell when their shells were thinning that it was time to supplement. Then I’d throw out a bit of oyster shell, or wash their own shells and toss them out for forage. Hope it’s not too much info at once for a post. Happy Homesteading!

  2. Hooray! I bet they are much happier. ๐Ÿ™‚ -and I know the produce is healthier.

    BTW… I don’t see a way to get notified when you respond to a comment, so if I dont’ answer something, it’s not deliberate. Feel free to e-me if you want.

  3. Question… Why don’t you let the hens free range like the roosters? Getting lots of grass, seed heads, and bugs will be extremely good for them and you. Of course, I have no idea what your setting is, if this would be an option for you.

    Have you heard of Joel Salatin? Weston A. Price?

  4. Heat definately will affect laying production and rather than stress the hens and shorten their lives we cut back on all corn/laying mash through the hot (we live in the desert) months. They are free range in a back yard with lots of grass, water and not to many (I hope) bugs. I throw any grain that isnt corn at them until it cools off. We go from 7-8 eggs a day down to 1-2 but the hens live longer and are not struggling against an unnatural desire to produce caused by food they wouldnt be getting in this season. Also be sure to wash hands (and baby) throughly after being out with the chickens as they do carry natural bacterias that could be bad for a tiny baby. Love reading your experience and congrats on the new lovely girl.

  5. We buy our feed from a mennonite community close to us. We have found that we can go down to a 16% protien, save money and still get eggs. I think 20% is recommended. We have also found to shop around for our feed.

    Goal….grow my own chicken feed. It sounds interesting…look into it!

  6. Again, Kendra, I just wanted to tell you how much I LOVE your site! I love the fact that you are around my age w/ VERY similar interests (I would LOVE if we were neighbors LOL), new to the whole homesteading thing and that you are sharing both your successes and “learning experiences”. Not to mention that you are a great writer and your post are always humerous and make me smile…. God bless you and your family. They’re beautiful!

    About the chickens… I’m in the process of building a chicken coop and a chicken tractor. I probably won’t start with chickens until the spring but you never know. I work full time (for now; hoping to change that after 2-3 years of paying off debt and saving for a place of our own) & have 2 very small kiddos so I don’t want to pile on another task until I’m ready and have the time needed. But in the meantime I’m reading tons of books and info about raising chickens. My favorite site is backyardchickens.com (It’s wonderful!). Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I am enjoying learning with you.

    Have a blessed day,
    Julie

    • Julie,

      Thank you! I’m so glad that you are learning along with me. I write my mistakes hoping to help others avoid them!! Keep working hard towards your goal. You’ll be so glad once you’re there!! I appreciate your kind words… my readers keep me going!

  7. We have Rhode Island Reds, but the eggs seem so SMALL to us, because we also have ducks, and next to a duck egg, the RIR eggs are just puny. LoL!! I guess it’s all in perspective. Sometime if you can, try an aracuna – they lay green, blue, teal, or pink eggs (ours are teal). Gives a new meaning to green eggs and ham. Of course it’s just the shell, but it’s such a conversation starter…!

    We mix cracked corn in with the layer feed, to stretch it a little, and it never affected their laying at all. The goats didn’t take kindly to that trick, but the ducks and chickens never even noticed.

    BTW, I found your site about a week ago, and loved going back through your entire archive. I do have a site, but sharing will keep for another day…

  8. They say you’re not supposed to feed scratch feed when it’s hot, because it raises the chickens body temperature. I wish I could let mine free range again because I saved a lot of money then.

  9. Thanks for the heads up…I’m about out of scratch and will now get layer feed as my girls should start laying any time now.

    And I have to say…Xia is a BEAUTIFUL baby!

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