Are my hens starving?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tjcib, May 19, 2019.

  1. tjcib

    tjcib Chirping

    Feb 22, 2017
    I have 4 RIR hybrid hens. They are just over a year old and I got them from a much larger farm flock.

    They are in my fenced back yard with free range of about 1/4 acre. The area is heavily wooded, so grass isn't there. There are some weeds, but mostly english ivy (which they don't eat) and tree saplings and other scrubby things. Their best finds are bugs (lots) under the leaves (that we never rake/clear). But I don't think they get tons of green.

    We normally throw out three handfuls of crumbles in the morning and three more in the late afternoon. We throw out egg-shell once a day. Water available 24/7. Occasional kitchen scraps, but it great moderation.

    Today, they were super snippy with each other at the afternoon crumble time. Super defensive of their food! Like, everyone was pecking everyone, not just a "pecking order" thing. It was more vicious than normal too. They were pecking and biting and holding on. A few feathers flew as well.

    I'm wondering if I should have crumble available 24/7 since they don't get a ton of greens from the yard.
    BY Bob and chickens really like this.
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    I'd have a feeder available during daylight hours. Take it in at night or put it away (a metal trashcan is a great option) so you don't attract pests.
  3. Timothy Menezes

    Timothy Menezes Songster

    Nov 27, 2017
    Monterey, California
    Yea definitely sounds like they need more access to food, I would just leave it out all day.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    These hens need their chicken feed (all flock might be best) and oyster shell available all the time, or at least during daylight hours. There's no way that they can eek out a good living as you are doing it! Eating stuff outside is great, but no substitute for a balanced ration.
    sourland, Ptera, Chick-N-Fun and 3 others like this.
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I agree feed needs to be available all day and put away at night.
    Ptera and Chick-N-Fun like this.
  6. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

    Oct 20, 2014
    The "average" chicken will eat about 1/4 pound of feed per day ... each ...

    Sounds like they are hungry to me.
  7. AmyJane725

    AmyJane725 Songster

    Feb 22, 2019
    Western WA
    The stuff they're scavenging from your yard probably isn't nutritionally balanced either. Definitely get them on a nutritious feed and give them unlimited access all day.
    Ptera and 21hens-incharge like this.
  8. tjcib

    tjcib Chirping

    Feb 22, 2017
    Thanks all.

    They've been laying fine (24 eggs in a week from 4 hens), so I didn't think much about their diet being off. But that behavior was a cue. Certainly don't want them stressed as the hot months come.

    I have an old feeder and will get it out today.
    Texas Kiki likes this.
  9. It would be interesting to have you report back to us after a week or two about how much feed they ended up consuming from the feeder. Accounting for any spillage/mess they make of course. And assuming you remove it at night to limit any mice/rats consuming any of it. Might be fun to see just how close to "fed" they were by their foraging. Or I guess on the negative side, just how lacking their foraging was.
  10. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

    Jul 31, 2015
    Houston, TX
    My Coop

    I've weighed three types of commercial feed and I've come to the conclusion that a chicken should eat right at about 3/4 of a measuring cup of feed per day.
    Measure your 6 handfuls of feed and see where it stacks up.

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