Tips - Providing Variety Stimulates Feeding
Especially when chicks get banding age, it becomes a big job for the hen to keep them fed. Seems like they are always begging her for something to eat all day long!
Continuous feeding of nestling food can be a problem if it is too rich. When it is too rich, the chick's skin tone will become red instead of light rosy pink and if not reversed they will develop diarrhea, sealed vent and die... Adding plain dry nestling food, greens and oats are helpful to reverse the problem but I also like to add some alternatives to egg food.
Cous cous with poppy seed is a real favorite. I just add some olive oil to cous cous and poppy seed, cover with boiling water and stir occasionally. Birds love poppy seeds so no wonder they love this dish.
Another favorite is quinoa (keen-wah). Quinoa is a grain that is especially balanced in amino acids.
I rinse the quinoa well and place in a rice cooker and cover while cooking. When it is nearly done, I turn it off and let it finish cooking just setting covered in the rice cooker. It should be light and fluffy. If it is a little sticky the birds will not like it. In that case, simply mix with some of the cooked cous cous and poppy seed and serve that way.
I also add both cous cous/poppy and quinoa to my egg food.
I have a year old hen, mated and sitting on five eggs in her first nest. She has just begun to incubate them in earnest, but is sitting so tightly that she will not come out to eat or drink. I have tried tempting her with a boiled egg, carrots and greens. No luck. Then I tried a bath, which she loves. Equally no luck. The cock bird is a 4 year old that has never been bred before, and he doesn’t feed her much at all while she is on or off the nest. Otherwise, he is behaving well and does not harass her, or the nest, so I have left him in the cage, hoping that he would learn to feed her, and then be a good feeder when the chicks hatch.
I am concerned about the health and general welfare of the hen..do you have any suggestions?
Thanks so much…Mary Roberts, Templeton, IA
Typically good hens just set and set and set. They refuse most extra foods, even their previous favorites and baths. Since they are compatible, I am sure when the time is right she will beg him to feed her and the chicks.
I like to feed sitting hens hemp seed. It is high calorie and they will eat it even when nothing else does the trick. Either dry hemp seed in hull or hulled hemp which is available at health food stores will help keep the hen from losing weight.