36 free range/pen chickens- how much to feed?!

HelloChicken

Chirping
8 Years
Jun 6, 2011
42
1
84
Ponchatoula, LA
I have 50 chickens total.
36 of them full grown
14 teenagers
1 special needs.



This is mostly directed at the 36 grown chickens. I used to let them out daily but stopped because of a hawk. We buy two 50 lbs bags of feed for them. 1 is laying pellets and the other is like cracked corn.
We feed them 1-2 scoop of 2.55 lbs. (we use a folgers container).


Anyways, when we keep them cooped up we tend to give them 2 scoops but they always act like they're still hungry.
I would like to feed them the least but filling amount.



So my official questions are:
How much would you feed 36 chickens if kept in a pen all day?
How much would you feed them if you let them out all day?
 

Kelsie2290

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Feb 18, 2011
36,684
4,956
586
Ohio
Most commercial feeds seem to say to feed them free-choice as the sole ration. Corn is going to be more like candy for them, and they would probably eat more, but it is usually only about 8% protein.
 

HelloChicken

Chirping
8 Years
Jun 6, 2011
42
1
84
Ponchatoula, LA
@Barnaclebob
Thanks for the reply :D
Wow, 9lbs of food is crazy!!!

@Kelsie2290
Oh, I thought corn would be healthiest for them :[
I doubt the laying pellets are healthy.
Any type of feed you would recommend for them so they get their protein?
(We also are not getting eggs lately, I wonder if its their diet :[ )
 

barnaclebob

Chirping
7 Years
Sep 24, 2012
142
10
71
36 chickens is a lot of beaks to feed. Most feeds labeled for laying hens will be healthy for them. Some may differ by a % or two on protein but the chickens will be ok.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,491
18,145
876
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have 50 chickens total.
36 of them full grown
14 teenagers
1 special needs.



This is mostly directed at the 36 grown chickens. I used to let them out daily but stopped because of a hawk. We buy two 50 lbs bags of feed for them. 1 is laying pellets and the other is like cracked corn.
We feed them 1-2 scoop of 2.55 lbs. (we use a folgers container).


Anyways, when we keep them cooped up we tend to give them 2 scoops but they always act like they're still hungry.
I would like to feed them the least but filling amount.



So my official questions are:
How much would you feed 36 chickens if kept in a pen all day?
How much would you feed them if you let them out all day?

Confined birds be fed all they will consume but try to limit amount left in feeder overnight. This keeps feed in feeders fresh and denies rodents excess eats.

Free-range make so they go to roost with full crops. I like to feed early in morning before going to work so they have feed at least through 10:00 AM. The balance they are responsible for. I take into account how far they range to get crop fill before roosting. My predator control gets iffy once birds leave property.

Quality of forage, season and even weather can impact how much supplemental feed is required for free-range birds. Producing birds need more than those in maintenance mode.

During much of the year my free-range birds get only scratch, especially during winter when no snow is on ground. Egg production if desired requires nutritionally complete formulation in addition to scratch.

You need to learn how to read birds with respect to how the forage is meeting their needs.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
11 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,523
3,649
476
NEK, VT
You might try and find other poultry folks in your area and a feed mill to split a bulk order. It would be considerably cheaper and you can supply the calcium to your layers with bulk purchased oyster shells on the side.


Personally I don't even feed scratch, for one my chickens don't like the corn and two it's kinda pricey for what you get. A few hours a day of free range is a better treat for them and free. I let mine out an hour or two before they go to roost at night.
 

naadarien

Chirping
6 Years
Feb 10, 2013
145
9
88
Central Vermont
My Coop
My Coop
I only a feed layer mash at this point and I give them whatever they want, plus a few scoops of BOSS, and two large helpings of layer mixed with kefir milk. They forage for 5-7 hours every day, and they are in fine shape. We go through one 50 lb bag a week, one 50 lb BOSS bag every 4-6 weeks, and 2 cups of kefir a day.

My birds have been a lot like my cats. They eat till they are full and then they leave the food alone. The alphas eat first so I want to always make sure there is more than enough leftover so the omegas don't go hungry. We've had a couple of mice lurking, but they haven't bothered anything yet. Maybe because there is always a bird near the floor (usually the cockerels) who'd love to give chase. :p
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
4,095
581
Southern Oregon
@Barnaclebob
Thanks for the reply :D
Wow, 9lbs of food is crazy!!!

@Kelsie2290
Oh, I thought corn would be healthiest for them :[
I doubt the laying pellets are healthy.
Any type of feed you would recommend for them so they get their protein?
(We also are not getting eggs lately, I wonder if its their diet :[ )

Why do you not think the layer feed is healthy?
If you're worried about protein, you're actually cutting it way down by diluting the feed with corn. Corn is lower protein than any commercial feed, like half as much as layer.
Sounds like you need to feed your birds a lot more. They're acting hungry because they are hungry!

How old are your layers? If they're around the 18 month mark, it's just time for them to take a break from laying for a while after they molt.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,491
18,145
876
Holts Summit, Missouri
Diet as described would shut down as confined flock's egg production. Egg production would also be reduced about now owing to ongoing molt. Molting birds need a bit more protein so either cutting back on corn or adding something like a grower feed with more protein I advise.
 

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