Can a hen eat too much and not lay?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Codeno1, May 19, 2011.

  1. Codeno1

    Codeno1 New Egg

    Jan 13, 2011
    Hello all, 1st time poster here. I live in FL and my 14 hens (Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks) are free range from sun up till sun down. I have a very sandy yard and I'm not sure how much "food" the hens are finding. They have a 25 lbs. feeder that is always available to them. I am currently going through roughly 23 lbs. of feed a week. I have been told that they are eating way too much and I need to restrict their feed, especially since they are free range. I tried this on Monday and when I got home from work I could tell I made them mad. I feel they are eating adequately and are not gorging themselves. Any expertise would be appreciated. Also the hens are only 4 months old and not laying yet but would like to correct the problem before it's too late (if there is one).

    Thank you!
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008

    Well, hens can eat too much and fat hens do not lay well. But, at 4 months, I would let them eat what they want. (also make sure sparrows, mice and other vermin are not eating your feed.)

    Eat what they want of feed - be cautious of too many treats!
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Agree with watching for mice. Which is why I feed a full ration (1/4 pound per bird, in the morning and give a half ration in the afternoon, which they finish before going to roost. Feed at night is rat/mice attractant, which I have an aversion to feeding with expensive feed.

    Frankly, 14 full sized birds will consume that much feed, or close to it, (25lbs per week) but usually ranging cuts that down some. BUT...., they are just nearing, at 16-17 weeks, the point of lay. 20 weeks for a RIR is pretty standard.
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I would never restrict feed for free ranging birds. They're going to enjoy whatever they can find in their ranging space much more than feed. So feed is kind of like "settling" for them. If they're eating it, it's because they need it. I don't think two bags of 40 lb feed a month for 14 birds is horrible, although I agree that some is probably being wasted, and some is probably being eaten by other birds, mice, etc. At four months, your girls are young, growing, and getting ready to start filling out, so they probably are eating quite a bit. As long as they're not filling up on tons of scraps, I wouldn't worry about overweight birds. And they still have another month or two before they start laying...
  5. schwartz48867

    schwartz48867 Out Of The Brooder

    May 17, 2010
    Owosso, MI
    These are in there final growth spurt and may need the extra feed. Are they over weight when you pick them up?
  6. Codeno1

    Codeno1 New Egg

    Jan 13, 2011
    Thank you far all of the replies. My hens do not seem to be overweight. I don't pick them up but they look normal.
  7. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    You will want to pick them up occasionally , if only as a learning experience. All winter I had one hen, all the food she wanted, then come Feb she seemed to suddenly lay a ton! And voile, she was laying again. Looking at her she looked the same--those feathers don't let you see the bird. "See" with your hands. GL
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I believe for laying hens that they should be allowed to eat as much as they want, all day long.

    This is my firm belief.

    I agree with the others that if the feed consumption seems weirdly high, check for other animals eating it.

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