can chickens get enough feed from free ranging


In the Brooder
6 Years
Aug 13, 2013
hi backyardians

my question today pertains to free range chickens getting enough feed.

I have a small back yard where my chickens run wild all day. I do provide pellet for them but I am wondering if I need to. here is my backyard


we have so many worms and bugs ect and grass is plentiful. do they need more?
Yes, they will need more so I think you should keep pellets available to them. They can soon destroy all the grass and turning over the dirt can seriously reduce the bug population too. More importantly, they may find enough to fill up on, but it may not give them all the nutrients they need to be healthy and laying well. Best to let them choose pellets when they want.

All the best
oh I do feed them plants from the garden such a cabbage leaves broccoli thats gone to seed ect and buy discounted veggies from the market also feed them scraps... should I still feed pellets?
I have 8 chickens and spend about $27 a month on a bag of laying crumbles (50 lbs.) and a bag of scratch (50 lbs.) I also let them run free for about an hour a day and several hours on the weekends. We have predators around (cats, dogs, coons) so I have to be cautious. I'm in the process of expanding their pen into a couple separate pens for rotation. I've started growing grass in the areas I'm gonna expand to that way I can have them in larger areas with good green grass to munch and the bugs. I've chosen rye grass due to the fact that it grows well in the colder months. I planted last week and I've already got really good sprouts. I figure by the end of September I'll be able to let them forage in one of their new areas.
Yes. Make sure you have crumble or pellets for your birdie girls. I wish mine could run my yard but.... Not happening. I have a Labrador and she likes to taste out birds. :(
Sounds like your birds get a nice varied diet! I would still have free choice feed for them. The high production demands on today's birds really require supplemental feed to maintain. Yes, my grandma's birds didn't get feed, only scraps and corn, but to her a 4 egg a week hen was a good layer! I'm not satisfied with that, so I have feed free choice. I don't think your yard looks large enough to really support the needs of your birds, the grass is yard grass without any grains, etc. Just offer them feed and let them eat what they need, I think you'll be happier with production.
If they are getting most of their food from grubs and worms and grass, they will naturally eat less of the pellets, even if you have it in a free choice feeder. Worms are just much tastier than pellets.

However, since they will be eating much less of the pellets, they might not get enough calcium.... So have some oyster shell in a side dish somewhere.

If you are really worried that your hens are eating way more pellets than you think they need to, and are not foraging as much as you would could always stop feeding them free choice.

You could put out feed for them right at or after lunch, and take away the feed when you put them to bed. That way, they are hungry in the morning, and will forage hard, but they never go to bed hungry. Of course, this might reduce egg production...not sure though.

My baby sister feeds her chickens that way, and they look and act healthy.

I feed my geese only at supper time, the rest of the time they have to eat grass.....they still look very fat and healthy...but then again they aren't laying any eggs (too young and wrong time of year)
Oh, I should have mentioned that I think it depends a great deal on your climate....duh

Obviously, once the grass dies this fall, I don't expect my geese to live off of nothing. But, instead of feeding them more, I am planning on eating them.

So, if you don't feed them free choice, and live in a climate with an actual winter, once the growing season shuts down, you will have to go back to full feeding.

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