Am I 'Overfeeding' My Flock?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mtnviewfarms, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. mtnviewfarms

    mtnviewfarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good Morning Chicken Loving Friends!

    DH and I do not agree on the 'feeding of the flock' and we need some input from more
    experienced flock owners please.

    We've been keeping standard size chickens for three years now. I've mostly done
    24/7 access for feed pellets and DH insisted last summer that I try feeding only
    once daily - the amount of feed that the flock can/will consume in 3 hours. After trying that for a week and the hens ( first year laying ) went from laying nearly
    an egg daily ( Barred Rocks at that time ) to almost no eggs - I went back to my food
    available 24/7 and the eggs started coming again.

    My current flock of Australorps, Barred Rocks, Welsummers and EEs are very large
    at 9 months of age - 50 birds ( we hatched some of them and the rest raised from week old ) and DH says they are 'overweight' from my 'overfeeding' and that is reason they
    are not laying much lately. I say it is because of no light in coop which we agree is
    what we want as flock needs to 'take a break' with nature, etc.

    How do the rest of you feed your flock and please give your reasons for that choice.
    I really appreciate your answers and experiences here as I don't want to cause my
    birds health problems either way. Thanks.

    Elaine in Ellijay GA
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  2. Lots A Cluckin

    Lots A Cluckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I say let them eat what the want...most of the time they will only eat what they need. if you are just starting to notice that the hens are on the big side dont worry about it, it is getting winter and chickens always eat more when it is cold I assume so they can stay warmer...but if you cant free choice feed then feed at least twice per day 1 cup per chicken per day example: you have 50 birds so in the mornings at about sunrise put out about 25 cups of feed, and then again about an hour before sunset.
     
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Feeds like layer and flock raiser can be fed freely, i.e. let them help themselves when they are hungry. I keep the feeder full at all times and my hens only overeat when they get treats or scratch, which they love. Some hens will be greedy and get fat if she's got food avaialbe 24/7, but of all the chickens I had (200-300) that only happened to me with one hen.

    You are right about this time of the year and hens laying less. It's the shorter daylight hours.
     
  4. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    Hi Elaine -

    I don't think you can "overfeed" chickens just because you give them free choice of chicken layer, grower, starter, etc. I free range my 50-ish Brahmas. They eat whatever they find over about 3 acres of property, but I still leave their crumbles out 24/7. I find that way I have happy, healthy chickens who are usually very generous with their eggs. This time of year my girls slow down because they are just coming out of moulting (whether minor or major moults) and getting their feathering and bodies ready for the winter months. That plus the shorter days contributes to about half the normal amount of eggs from my girls.

    Now, in my case, I give lots of treats. I love to watch the flock dig into corn, oatmeal, bread, and whatever I have on hand to give them! Mostly I have chickens with good body weight, not too much, not too little. Queen Frack (dark Brahma) is affectionately known as "Thunder Thighs," and the ground shakes when she walks by, but she's special, anyway.

    Anyway, bottom line is I agree with you about leaving food out 24/7 for a happy and healthy flock.
     
  5. barkinghills

    barkinghills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there,

    I have 40 chickens, all pullets from last spring. They free-range on one acre of pasture all day, then into the coop at night. I keep several pellet feeders filled at all times. During the late summer I was feeding all layer feed, but now I have switched to one part 17% layer feed and all the rest of the pellets are 20% all-purpose (was using Flock Raiser but switched to Payback and I'm very happy with it). I also give them a bowl of table scraps plus some fermented whole grains every day.

    My flock is in beautiful condition and is still laying well considering they have no extra light in the coop. So for me, free-choice feed available at all times seems to be the best choice.
     
  6. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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    I have a large flock (100+ chickens) and they have 24/7 access to feed. The reason is because I don't have time to fill feeders every day, so I leave feed out for them. They eat what they want and they stop when they are full. When I see the feeders getting low, I re-fill. My chickens are VERY healthy and they look healthy. People comment all the time on how healthy my chickens look. Egg production is great. I could never see myself putting my chickens on a feeding schedule. It just wouldn't work for me. I have too many animals to do that.
     
  7. startingover

    startingover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I fill mine once a day but in the winter they eat more and I will put more in if they finish off what I already have them. It correlates largely with the weather. Nasty days - in the coop more- eat more food. Nice days - outside more - eat less food. Mine are free range.

    A good way to determine how much they should eat. Each bird should have .25 of a pound of food per day. I honestly don't have an exact count on how many birds I have so I just say 100. I figure I "should" go through 25 pounds a day. I make sure I try to give at least 25 pounds per day. Do I weigh it? No. It's all guesstimates.
     
  8. lbrtyldy

    lbrtyldy Out Of The Brooder

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    I feed my girls lots of treats so I do not give them free access to grain (which I think they would gorge themselves on and ignore the free treats we get vs. the expensive organic soy-free grain). They eat lettuce, blueberries, grapes, yogurt, bread, meat (venison today), worms (red wigglers and mealworms) and whatever other goodies (trash to them) my husband gets from the stores he delivers produce to. They had potato and 3 bean salads today too.

    Another farmer had mentioned that she substantially cut their grain ration down in the summer when the free ranging is good and they should be finding tons of bugs and greens to eat on their own. I followed her lead, as long as I had plenty of other goodies to feed them and saved some $. As cold weather came to NH, I had to increase their feed ration (and their light) so that they would keep laying well. I feed it out to them at dusk when I am trying to get them into their pen and/or coop. Works like a charm (usually!)!
     
  9. lymanmomof3

    lymanmomof3 Out Of The Brooder

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    I sure hope you can't overfeed chickens cuz I'd be guilty as heck. I'm a new chicken Mom. I have 4: a Buff Orp, a Brahma, a Australorp and an EE. They were hatched in April. I got them at 1 day old. Since I live in Maine the light is short and the days are cold so they can't get out as much as I wish they could. So I spoil them with treats. Hot oatmeal with brown sugar and chopped up grapes for breakfast with sunflower seeds and cracked corn to scratch while I'm at work. And always their feed. Always always above all save for water. At night I give them another crop filling treat to keep them warm overnight. I figure in the spring I will get them doing pilates on the 3 acre lawn with me. Or the chicken version at least, butt-up, face down, dust bathe, shake shake, repeat...
     

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