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#71569 - 10/17/07 05:15 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
I've always felt the same, that a hen would take only the oyster shell its body actually needed. Maybe the topic needs its own thread? Misc. go I. CHRIS

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#71570 - 10/17/07 07:47 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Dee Dee Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 174
Loc: Maryland
Hi Barnyard Jenny, I have ameracaunas too, along with turkens, wyandottes, rhode island reds. I like the my turkens the best, but everyone else feels they are ugly. I am now raising some cuckoo maran and australorp chicks. I like lotsa different colored eggs! And Cgmccary, I feed cat food too, they love it just about more than anything. I don't bother to soak it though, they have no trouble eating it.

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#71571 - 10/18/07 06:41 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Funny, after reading about the cat food thing before, I tried it once when we ran out of grain and I couldn't get to the store until the afternoon. They just looked at it stupified! I was expecting them to just gobble it right up. If I do it again I will try soaking it. Maybe the kibble wasn't the right size, maybe my girls just were not used to it yet. Maybe they would have prefered chicken flavor over salmon? Different tastes, maybe.

That's interesting Chris, about the high protein/calcium possibly shortening their lifespan. I had never heard this before. Do you remember where you read it? ( nevermind- just came back to edit. saw your post in misc. with reference ) Sadly, a lot of people probably don't care because they do not expect their hens to live long anyway. I imagine when chickens are completely free ranged in abundant pastures they are always adjusting the ratio of seeds, bugs and greens they eat based on the current needs of their body - laying, molting, building reserves for winter etc... I wonder.

RenB - Yeah, I would offer grit. Oyster shell does not help with the grinding of the food. The only reason I only offer those in winter is that since my birds have a dirt run and daily ranging time they can eat all the dirt/ pebbles they need for minerals/grit. Lots of animals eat a little dirt for added minerals. I have thought about some sort of mineral block for chickens this winter. Not that they would lick it like a horse or deer, but maybe I could crumble or crush it? Does anyone else offer some sort of salt/multi-mineral block? There is something called Grazer's Choice with kelp, rock phosphate. mineral salts, vit. E, selenium and DE. Maybe I'll just offer kelp meal this winter.

It's so interesting to me all these different things we do because we all live in different places/situations with different birds and differents ends in mind. But if we are observing happy, healthy birds that lay many strong shelled eggs then we are doing something right!

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#71572 - 10/18/07 08:00 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello,

just some info on cat food, in short: it is NOT good, the salt in it is poisonous/unhealthy for chickens! This issue comes up every now and then, there are several posts about it, here are the 2 which I think contain the most info:

http://www.the-coop.org/cgi-bin/UBB/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=001716#000006

http://www.the-coop.org/cgi-bin/UBB/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=12;t=002416#000007


Hope itīs of interest and best greetings,

Joachim

Amy, I just read your idea of the salt block and was shocked! Please do NOT do this, it would kill your birds rather fast, seriously! Common salt blocks over here contain around 40% Natriumchlorid/salt. Hope I didnīt sound rude!

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#71573 - 10/19/07 05:44 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Hey Joachim,

Nope, not at all! That's why I asked. You know I like you and want to hear what you have to say.

OK, so lets talk salt. I claim to know next to nothing about salt and chickens but I have been doing some research ( the question on this post asking if others do a mineral/salt block being part of it ) since I wouldn't start something new like this with the birds without checking it out some. This is something I am considering for the winter months only, since the rest of the year there is abundant variety in greenery and bugs and I don't feel it would be necessary. But I always feel a little bad for my well-fed birds in winter so I try to get a little more creative then. I got the idea looking through my Fedco Seeds catalog and they have an offshoot called Organic Supply that sells everything from soil amendments to OG poultry, hog, cow feed and supplements. The company that makes the mineral supplements is called Fertrell, I believe. The Grazer's Choice product I mentioned does not specify for poultry, so I went to the Redmond Mineral Salt ( in the grazers mix ) website and they do mention the mineral salts for poultry as well as other livestock. They also make a specially formulated one for poultry called Poultry Nutribalancer that contains "...12-14% Ca, 10% P, 10-12% NaCl with trace minerals, vitamins, beneficial microbes. Formulated with kelp meal, not methionine." Being that there is kelp meal in it, I know it contains salt - maybe not as much as in the redmond mineral salts in the Grazers Choice - I'm not sure.
Both Fertrells website and the Redmond Mineral salt site mention feeding to poultry, all livestock actually. So I googled "salt for chickens" and aside from recipes I got some information from the Salt Institute regarding the subject. Basically saying what I'd read - that salt is a necessary, essential nutrient for poultry. They mentioned certain ratios and said that if these are exceeded that salt toxicity would develop. Also the website I've mentioned on here before ( www.themodernhomestead.us ) set up by a gentleman who writes for Backyard Poultry and Mother News and has had chickens for years mentions salt and kelp meal as ingredients in his homemade chicken scratch recipe. He also used the Poultry Nutribalancer, but if I remember correctly started to question using all of those supplements together as he pastures his poultry and they should be getting all the minerals they need. But he also states that salt is a necessary nutrient.

So is this a case of a little is a good thing, but more is not better - would in fact be toxic? Is it a case of maybe you are thinking refined table salt and they are thinking more along the lines of residual salt in the kelp, or that in the Redmond salt, or Dead Sea salt or where ever it is sourced that the unadultered salt combined with the host of other minerals work together symbiotically and without such toxic side effects?

If I were to do this it would be as a free choice supplement in winter ONLY - just like oyster shell and grit - so if it's free choice, would my chickens actually ever eat too much and overdose and die? I'd like to think not. That would shatter my whole system of beliefs - that if you offer good things or if they are on open range they will know what their body needs and find it and eat enough of it. I would not expect them to overdose on salt in a free choice ( not mixed in their feed )mineral supplement anymore than I would expect them to overdose on anything else they seek out and eat. I suppose there are always exceptions, but I am a firm believer in an animals intelligence to feed itself the right things in the right quantity when available. Many wild animals go to mineral and/or clay deposits and lick the earth to get salt as well as other things. Parrots are one that comes to mind right away ( yes, I know chickens are not parrots, just making a point that salt is good for some animals, birds too ).

So, I guess I'm a bit intrigued and want to hear again what you have to say and why you think this as there are two companies that I've found that are selling mineral supplements for poultry with salt, and a couple testimonials that warn of over feeding it due to toxicity but in small amounts tout the health benefits and say it is an essential nutrient. Maybe this is not so black and white? My body needs vitamin A, but it's fat soluble and builds up in my body and too much could kill me. Will I ever get enough vitamin A in a food source I'm eating to kill me -highly doubtful. Could I take enough to kill me through overdosing on vitamin A supplements? Probably. Maybe this is similar? I am sure that as I watch my birds digging worms out of the raspberry patch they are eating a little dirt too. That dirt contains minerals and maybe a little sodium. That is probably good for them, but if I start mixing high amounts of table salt in their feed that would not be so good.

As for the cat food - I would not feed it on a regular basis because we do not buy a "top of the line" cat food. Our cat is a great mouser and always welcome inside but is semi-feral by choice and sometimes in summer we will go a month without seeing him. He's about 7 and we always think he's dead only to have him show up again. We buy him regular cat food just to supplement his diet of mice. I don't trust what's in our cat food bag anymore than I trust what's in the pelleted poultry feed. I tried it in a pinch a few months back when we thought we had another bag of scratch, but did not and I needed something to offer until Billy got home with another bag. For whatever reason, not one of them went for it - so I just let them outside to forage for themselves that morning and cooked them some whole wheat pasta. That they went for!

Looking forward to your response my buddy!

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#71574 - 10/19/07 07:14 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello Amy,

as for cat food: well, itīs designed for cats, not for birds!LOL! Seriously, chickens need other minerals and vitamines than cats. I asked our vet about it, the superb vitamin-A for chickens is harmful for cats for example. You should read whatīs in your cat food, BTW;-) I wouldnīt want our birds eat the "common" stuff, itīs junk! Only few labels offer high-quality cat/dog food with REAL meat and without "waste" in it. In all labels of dry cat food they put in extra salt to make the cats drink more, this is what our vet told us and it makes perfect sense to me. He says since they switched to salted cat food the cases of cats with kidney failure dropped dramatically. So it is good for the cats, but bad for the chickens, they simply cannot use the extra salt in the food. Like dogs on the other hand cannot use the extra protein from chicken food, BTW. Whatīs good for one animal might be harmful for another animal, see what I mean?

As for salt, I think that chickens were never built to be able to "use" a huge amount of salt, they simply lack the organs! So they accumulate the surplus salt and finally die of renal/kidney failure, this is NOT a nice death, BTW;-( Your vet can clearly tell you more on this if you ask him, I also found little info online, unfortunatly I donīt remember any medical details. But I remember I searched for "chickens urine" and found a few interesting papers including more exact keywords for further research. Iīll see if I have bookmarked a few and tell you later!

Time is fleeting, solong,

Joachim

EDIT: Didnīt find any bookmarked sites about this, sorry!

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#71575 - 10/21/07 05:54 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Well, I agree with you about the cat food. I was making a joke before when I said that maybe they would have prefered chicken flavor. I have read the ingredients, that's why I said I don't trust my cat food any more than some commercial poultry feed - vague by-product ingredients. But if in three years I tried to use it once when they ran out of grain until the afternoon, I don't think that's doing any harm, do you? Not all cat food is created equal and mine is just the regular stuff so I would not use it even as a treat. It tells me something that not one chicken tried it in the first place.

I also agree with " huge " amounts of salt being toxic. But my question for you is - do you think there is a place for mineral supplements formulated for poultry that contain some salt - fed free choice? If this were killing people's chickens why would there be products from reputable organic suppliers containing kelp meal and certain mineral salts? Isn't there a world of difference between feeding some high sodium feed on a daily basis and just putting out a free choice mineral mix that is advertised for poultry during the winter months. I think so, but maybe I'm wrong. As I said before, all the research that I came up with DID say salt in high amounts can be toxic to poultry, but also said that it is an essential, necessary nutrient. I guess I want to know if you believe the latter. If you think there is absolutely no place for a supplement like this, maybe I will re-think my idea. What about just kelp meal? That must contain trace amounts of salt from the sea.

I just want to do a little something extra for the birds in the winter when the food choices don't include bugs and as much greens. I'm not set on any idea, just fishing around for ideas before the cold weather comes. Let me know if you think there is grey area here. I think you know that I value what you have to say and will take it to heart. Just the other night we had a good friend over, a Brahma lover, and we were showing him all your geogeous birds at your Krasses Rudel site. smile

If there is anyone else out there still reading this - what are your opinions ( if any ) on salt in mineral supplements or salt being both deadly and necessary? CJR? Chris? Foehn? Anyone? If everyone is in agreement with Joachim then maybe my idea is not such a good one and I'll do something else...

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#71576 - 10/21/07 06:53 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Dee Dee Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 174
Loc: Maryland
Don't know much about the salt issue and definitely going to look into it re cat food. But did want to add that it is my birds absolute favorite treat, I don't feed it often, just as a treat occasionally. And if I would feed it to my cats I don't hesitate to feed it to my chickens as an infrequent treat. Also there are so many foods that my chickens have shown no interest in at first but did like later that I don't take that as an indication that something is bad for them. That said, I think I will limit the cat food even more now, thanks for the heads up on salt.

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#71577 - 10/22/07 03:23 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
I think I checked the NaCl content in the dry catfood I supplement to my birds esp during these molting times. It had less than the canned cat food I feed my cat. The cheap dry catfood had a higher protein (double) content than the canned catfood [I've noticed the same difference betweem the canned & dry dog food I feed my dog].

As with anything that I or any animal eats, moderation or less of any one single thing, is probably better. Gosh, one week I read the feed may be killing my birds and now the dry catfood I supplement them with will cause sudden death. On top of all this, there is a lot of plants that grow in the run that are supposedly poisonous. Mushrooms, those sneaky things, are coming up all the time. I hope the birds "know" to leave them alone.

My birds eat such a variety of things (greens, figs, persimmons (still falling from our tree), but I keep their primary diet, their chicken feed. Thinking, maybe, I need to check the NaCl content of the couple of slices of bread each morning or maybe NOT! CHRIS

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#71578 - 10/22/07 06:03 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Dee Dee Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 174
Loc: Maryland
Hi Chris, mine are very busy wolfing down the persimmons too, another big favorite of theirs. A somewhat invasive shrub called Russian olive also grows in my yard and it has little round dull orange red fruits they love. I won't let my husband cut them down for this reason, the poor man has to work around the chickens in so many ways. I follow your routine, chicken feed mainly, but alot of different treats and of course they free range also.

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