Organic Laying Mash????? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Help! My hens are not laying well, 3 eggs a day (if lucky) for 17 hens. I feed scratch. We sold some of our hens (hatch date 2/19) to our neighbor and he is getting plenty of eggs. He feeds laying mash. I don't mind feeding a prepared food but the mash is almost completely chemical. Is there something more organic that can raise the egg ratio? I was getting more eggs when the hens had free access to the whole yard but with the grass having stopped growing they are now confined to a large pen to keep the yard from being all holes. I only have an acre. I assume the drop is from lack of protien since there is not as many bugs to find in thier confined area.

Thanks Diana

-- Diana (, December 09, 2001


Unless you are feeding an Certified Organic scratch feed, what's the difference between it and laying mash? Both are produced commercially the same exact way, the same fertilizers and herbicides are used on each, there are no added chemicals that are used in laying mash that aren't in commercial scratch feed. It just is ground up and has soybean meal added to bring up the protein level to 16%, and has added calcium and magnesium to provide for egg shell production, the same type vitamins and minerals you would take as a daily supplement.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, December 09, 2001.

Hi Diana, You can bet it is the lack of a balanced diet that is causing the egg lay drop. Scratch just is not enough (especially in the winter) to produce eggs. There are a couple of things you can do.

I don't know about your area, but where I live it is near impossible to get organic layer mash or pellets. You can either buy the ingredients independantly and mix them together (if you live near a feed mill they will generally mix them for you and bag for a small fee if you get several hundred pounds mixed). If you need some recipes for the items and ratios, let me know.

Also, you can suppliment them with kitchen scraps. This is what I do most of the time. I feed them lots of milk, eggs, vegetable scraps, leftovers, etc. If you balance out thier needs with scraps, milk and eggs (I cook the eggs so we don't get eat eaters - thus no eggs for us!) you should be fine just continuing feeding the scratch. That is what they did in the old days before they had prepared layer mash.

You will certainly get a huge increase in production using the laying mash; however, I don't generally don't like to push the gals like that. I prefer a more natural approach. Let them lay the way they lay with a balanced diet rather than boosting it just because we want a dozen more eggs a month.

The laying mash is also so much more expensive and I argue that you really aren't being efficient by buying a more expensive feed. Better to get a few more chickens than push them to thier limits. Maybe it is being more "farm" efficient; but not being a good sewart to the chickens. Only my opinion. I am sure you will get aruguement on that one..LOL.

Best of luck!

-- Karen (, December 09, 2001.

I have 21 hens,, no roosters,, and am only geting 4 a day,,with laying mash,, dont bitch,, it could be worse. It also depends on where your at,,the colder,, the less eggs

-- stan (, December 09, 2001.

Does your neighbor have an extra light in the coop? Karen and Stan are right, keep using your scratch and add some scraps. Hens naturally slow down during the short cold days of winter. Good luck!

-- cowgirlone (, December 09, 2001.

I would say it's more the time of year than anything. I am getting about 10 eggs a day out of 50-60 hens. Come spring, they will pick back up. Put a light in the coop to make their days longer & you will probably start getting more eggs.

-- Wendy (, December 09, 2001.

I've read that to add protein soak cat food with milk and feed that to the chickens for a few days. I did it last winter with the old hens and it helped. This year I have 6 month old pullets that are laying like crazy. I feed Blue Seal layer mash, small amounts of cracked corn, I put some hay in once or twice a week for them to scratch through, and I have a light on for 15 hours a day. I have 23 Rhode Island Reds, and 6 Polish hens and I'm getting at least 21 eggs a day and usually more.

Stacy in NY--> we had the first real snow of the season last night. Got about 5" of snow with nasty slush underneath.

-- Stacy (, December 09, 2001.

I buy my organic mash from a farmer in the next town and my hens do okay by it. You can ask farmers in your area and they would likely know if there is anyone farming organically near you. I'm not sure if shipping is economical for you, but if you're going to eat the eggs, I would not feed your girls pet food. I've read nasty things about the sources used to produce pet foods.

-- Nina in NJ (, December 09, 2001.

Here I can get laying mash way cheaper than scratch feed, the scratch feed is 8.40 per 50 pound bag, and the 16% laying mash is 5.60 per 50 pound bag, so it depends on what feed costs to decide what to use.

I feed free choice laying mash and supplement with a 5 gallon bucket of fresh picked field greens (chickweed, clover, and whatever grasses I can find)as well as kitchen scraps. Offer free choice oyster shell for minerals and free choice granite grit for optimum gizzard health and efficiency. I add one ounce of CIDER vinegar per gallon of water to the daily water ration for the elimination of salmonella in the chickens and to promote mineral uptake absorbtion. 14 hours of daylight by supplemental lighting is essential for winter season egg production, I get a minimum of 12 eggs a day from 22 hens, Black Australorps.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, December 09, 2001.

With the disgusting things I've seen chickens eat I wouldn't be worried about hens eating milk soaked dry cat food. Yuck, I've actually seen them eat a dead mouse that the cats left on the driveway, dirty feathers, and worst of all, their own sh*t.

Stacy in NY

-- Stacy (, December 09, 2001.

HaHa Stacey, I know what you mean about the gross things animals sometimes eat! (one that really grosses me out is what DOGS eat, and then they have the audacity to live in my house!)

To play devil's advocate though, one might say that dead animals and such, dirt and all,are part of the natural diet of chickens; their systems are designed to process these things and turn them into good food for human consumption. Whereas man-made pet food is manufactured in a most unnatural way with questionable ingredients and lots of chemical additives, could very conceivably be damaging the very intricate natural balance of the chickens (or cats!) systems, and thereby the chicken meat and eggs we injest.


-- Earthmama (, December 09, 2001.

You definitely have a point, Earthmama. At least, the cat-kill, feathers, and sh*t contain no artifical additives!

I have 4 dogs, I feel your pain. I've found some amazing stuff thrown up on the living room floor. What I think is worse is when they roll in petrified dead thing, think they smell like $100 an ounce Joy perfume then they have the audacity to get upset when you give them a bath! We just went through this scenario with two of them at 11 o'clock at night.

Stacy in NY---> Seamus (Rottie/Lab/something the Vet couldn't identify mix) to Jack (chocolate lab/husky mix) there's a black and white kitty, let's go smell its butt! Wow, that kitty smells *good*

-- Stacy (, December 09, 2001.

We mix our on feed, 16% soybean meal, 42% cracked corn and 42% whole oats. We also give lettuce and other kitchen scraps. The grocery store gives us all the lettuce leaves they pull off. We also turn on lights to allow the hens to have the required 14 hours per day. They also free range in the nice weather but we've been under snow for a month (Alberta) so they don't like to go out much. We get 1 egg per day per chicken!

-- susan banks (, December 10, 2001.

Diana-as I have found (and you too!) chickens are quite addicting. I got my flock started this Spring and now have 23 Barred Rocks, 10 New Hampshires, 1 white leghorn, 2 Easter Eggers, and 4 Buff Orpingtons. The Buffs are the youngest and hopefully will start laying before Christmas. I also kept 3 NH roosters for the express purpose of chicks (that hopefully will be brooded by the Buffs). I have found 3 sites that are excellent for information: (The Poultry Information Exchange) By all means, feed a layer mash/pellets if you want eggs, and add 14- 16 hours of light, especially in the Winter to keep the pituitary gland stimulated and the egg cycle "cooking". If you have one, you may want to consider a local feed mill that mixes custom feeds-I buy 500lbs of mash at a time and pay the ridiculously low price of $7/hundred weight. My birds LOVE it. (They also get to free range in our woods 2-5 hours each day.) Out of my 40 hens I think that only 1 Easter Egger and the Buffs are not laying. I still am getting what I feel is excellent results 26-33 eggs/day and I live in NE KY where it is starting to turn cold. Jim

-- Jim NE KY (, December 10, 2001.

I don't feed my chickens laying mash because I don't like the way the eggs taste when they have eatin it in the past.I feed scratch feed and also wheat seed in seperate food dispensers.I don't buy the wheat with the husk but the seed grade which is expensive.It's not organic, but it's wholesome and has life force in it . It has higher protien then scratch feed . I also put some wheat in a bucket and wet it and it sprouts in about 7 to 10 days and when it has some green color I feed it to the chickens. I also keep a flouresent shop lite on a timer to come on at 3 am and shut off at daylight.This has given me enough eggs for the family and extra for friends.If you don't need 17 chickens, you should keep your favorite hens or best layers ,just enough for your household needs and feed these the more expensive wheat with table scrapes.You'll get more out of 8 well feed chickens, then 17 that aren't getting the higher protien more exspensive wheat.You don't need laying mash to get eggs in the winter.But it's easier , more convenient and less exspensive to feed laying mash ,if you don't mind the taste they give the eggs.

-- Steve (, December 10, 2001.

Thanks so much for all the responses! Guess I will look around and see if I can find a mash that doesn't contain hormones or antibiotics. I live in Tampa so the cold is not a problem and would surely be welcomed to some extent.

Thanks again Diana

-- Diana (, December 10, 2001.

Here is a great site for feed recipes

Chicken Feed....The basics of what chickens need to eat, and how you can easily give it to them

-- Jason in S. Tenn. (, December 10, 2001.

Great site Jason!!

-- cowgirlone (, December 11, 2001.

I read these pretty quickly, but hasn't anyone mentioned hog feed or dog food--both which can be found inexpensively to boost protein? It made a huge difference when I added this to the scratch. Your hens aren't getting any protein because they aren't getting bugs.

Throw some greens or weeds in their pen too this winter. They need em. Our chickens get all our scraps too. But they need protein in order to make eggs. Don't forget oyster shells for them to make hard shells.

-- Ann Markson (, December 11, 2001.

My grandpa went to an agriculture school back around 1910 & studied poultry science. One thing he did in winter was pour hot water or warm, leftover milk (he had a cow & goats) over the chicken mash. I do that when I think of it & the chickens love it. It warms them from the inside out. And of course, kitchen scraps. Go easy on anything salted, tho.

-- Bonnie (, December 11, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ