Chicken Questions : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I have the opportunity to purchase some reasonable chicken feed from a local supplier. Presently I have been feeding a layer mash but this supplier only have layer pellets. I read the information recently from Taz that you can add water to the mash to prevent a lot of waste. My question is: can you do the same with the pellets? Also, this supplier told me that you can feed either layer or hen scratch to potential laying chickens. Is she correct and would the yield for eggs be any different? Right now I am only getting one egg every two days with four hens. I just added lighting (12 hours) to their pen about three or four days ago. How long does it take from the time you add light to the time they start laying more eggs? Penda

-- Penda Zone (, December 18, 1999



Just got back from buying chicken feed when I read your message. How old are your chickens and what kind? If they are just now beginning to lay, be patient. If they're young, it will all work out in time. Adding the light is good, perhaps they won't slow down production too much for the winter. I have five chickens, and one just now started laying, two months after the others (they're all the same age)- thought she'd never start!

I've never heard of layer scratch, just plain old chicken scratch. We use this along with layer "crumbles" (wonder if that's pellets). We also add an occasional pan of bread & milk, a little cottage cheese, veggie scraps, whatever we have on hand.

I'm sure you'll get some good answers from Taz and others who've had lots of experience. I'm still learning, too.

-- Jill D. (, December 18, 1999.

You can use the pellets same as the mash or crumbles. You may end up wasting more if you're in cold weather though- if they don't eat it before it freezes. Also, when wet, it tends to sour faster. Finally, may I suggest 14 hours of light. Good luck

-- jamie (, December 18, 1999.

Jamie is right; you need to increase the light time to 14 hours/day. It can make a world of difference. I wouldn't go to the trouble of wetting your feed. It is a lot of bother, you risk it going sour (especially in summer months) and the chickens will eat the pellets just fine. I alternate crumbles and pellets. When I first make the change from one to the other, the chickens act as though it is a real treat. I guess they like a variety. I feed cracked corn, not the hen scratch that has other seeds in it. My chickens prefer the corn. When I did use the scratch, they picked out the corn and would ignore the other seeds and casually eat them later, but they really pigged out on the corn. I have some wheat that didn't make particularly good bread when ground into flour that I feed them occasionally. Like I said, they enjoy a variety. Table scraps are their favorite.

There is a web site dedicated to chickens. I'll get it and post it, too.


-- Gerald R. Cox (, December 18, 1999.

The chicken web site is

It is dedicated to chickens, ducks, and other foul.

If you can't find the answer there, someone can tell you where to go to find it. There used to be a regular on this site, April, who posts there as Sansa.


-- Gerald R. Cox (, December 18, 1999.

Forgot to mention. It's best to add the light in the morning via timer than at night. They get kinda upset getting caught off their roost when the lights suddenly go off if you were to add the light in the evening.

Crumbles have a lot of "fines" or dust. Pellets don't. Starter is always crumbles as the pellets would be too big for a baby chick to eat.


-- Gerald R. Cox (, December 18, 1999.

Every now and then the feed store gives me pellets instead of crumbles (simply broken up pellets), I open it before I realize the mistake and feed it. The chickens avoid it until there is nothing else for them to eat. So I buy crumbles.

I have used the additional light before with success but this year I decided to let the old girls have a break - I have young hens just starting to lay as well so end up with 6-8 eggs daily, enough for us. Good luck!

-- Kristi (, December 19, 1999.

I was told by an old-timer who has kept laying hens for about 50 years to always feed crumbles, not pellets. I tried pellets one time and the hens would hardly eat them.

Also, have you considered how you would feed the chickens if you couldn't buy commercial feed? I suspect if we have hard times ahead, commercial chicken feed could be a scarce commodity. I recently bought a ton of layer crumbles from the local co-op and stored it in a spare bedroom. The co-op gives a price break of $2.00 per sack when a minimum of a ton is purchased, so you might consider this. A ton of feed in 50# sacks takes up a space of about 4x4x3'. If eggs become almost impossible to get (as they were in WWII Europe), you might find that the price you get for your eggs might be closer to what people now pay for beef than the measly $1.00 per dozen we now get.

I have about 25 hens, most of them hatched out by hens last spring. Hopefully, some of them will go broody next spring and provide me with more layers and butcher chickens.

-- (, December 19, 1999.

The owner of the mill where we used to buy feed (retired now) told us that lesser quality grain goes into pellets, higher quality grain into mash. Something about the pellets keeping their shape. I don't know if this is true anywhere else, but we now have a bias against pelleted feed. There does tend to be less waste with the pellets. We don't add water to our feed.

A really good feed supplement for hens is oyster shell, for the calcium needed to make eggshells. We keep a little container of oyster shells in the coop for the 'girls'. Can be bought at feed stores.

-- Bingo (, December 20, 1999.

I've been using crumbles. None of my chickens have started laying yet...but expect them to start this month.

-- Mad Monk (, December 20, 1999.

W've had chickens, both layers and meat birds, for about ten years. For layers, stay with a laying mash, and supplement with cracked corn for cold weather, as it helps them to maintain their body heat. We don't use scratch at all, as the feed dealer once told me that it doesn't have much nutritionally for the birds. (It's comparable to sweepings that come off the grain mill floor, and isn't consistent in nutrients.) Keep oyster shell available all the time, and LOTS of water. For especially cold days, mix some hot water with the laying mash, or make "leftover stew" with tabe scraps and hot water. If you have hybrid egg birds, they will tend to lay eggs at an earlier age than the non-hybrid birds like Rhode Island Reds or Barred Rocks. If the birds have easy access to tiny stones, you won't need to add grit. (The oyster shell won't substitute, as it dissolves in the crop.) You can wash egg shells and grind them to a fine powder in your grain mill or blender, then mix it with their feed, but don't give them large pieces of egg shells, as this could help lead to egg-eating. Hope this helps!

-- Ann M. (, December 21, 1999.

I am a new hen raiser, but my refrigerator is always overflowing with eggs and people have started calling me the egg lady. I feed pellets. I also toss some lettuce and bread peices and corn scratch in their compound. I get abut 15-17 eggs a day from 21 chickens and it hasn't let up appreciably in winter darkness. I don't give them supplemental light, but the coop has a window. I live up by northern Calif border and it gets below zero frequently. Keep the faith. If I can do it, anyone can.

-- marsh (, December 21, 1999.

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