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Can hens be fed just grass?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Johnn, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Johnn

    Johnn Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 5, 2011
    I'm doing an assignment and one is to compare two different methods of feeding. I was going to compare feeding layers and having grass fed ones. But the big question is, is there hens that are just fed on grass? because I really don't know. Or do they have to have feed supplemented?
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Basic grass is not exactly what the chickens are feeding on. Yes tender shoots but a variety of grasses and clover and seeds and grubs and insects is what free range feeding is all about. Ideal forage areas for this type of feeding would be fields where they'd cover the terrain to find the foods or in orchards or move coops to crop fields post harvest.

    Depending on how abundant the quality of foods found in these areas then the chickens could do quite well. Typically free ranging is limited in space for the backyard poultry person. Therefore for the great majority free ranging can reduce feed costs and your egg quality, yolk color and flavor, is never richer but the need for actual feed is not eliminated.

    Unless excellent sources for free ranging and rotating chickens to these areas via moving coops is done then feeding feed blends or grains is recommended. Chickens will survive foraging for themselves but egg production would be greatly diminished, they'd be leaner/smaller if culling for food and overall health can be effected.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It sounds like you are going to actually do the experiment so you can find out for yourself. But grass fed does not mean they eat only grass. Grass fed means that they get to eat grass. While they are eating grass they are also eating dirt, weeds, creepy crawlies, and many other things. How well they do on a grass fed diet depends on the overall quality of the entire forage, not just the grass.

    I don’t know how you plan to set up your experiment or for how long you plan to run it, but you will get totally different results if you mow your lawn and feed them that cut grass rather than allow them to forage in an area that has different varieties of grasses and weeds, grass and weed seeds, and creepy crawlies, plus access to dirt.

    Pure grass, especially one variety, is not a balanced diet. If they can forage in a high quality forage environment, they will do extremely well just on what they forage.
  4. Johnn

    Johnn Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 5, 2011
    Thanks for both of yo

    Thanks for both of your replies. I know that they don't just eat grass bug it was just easier putting grass fed then grass,bugs etc. I already have free range hens but I have never not give them food too so I can't tell from my own experience. I could maybes write min my assignment that their egg production wouldn't be as good and that they may become ill if they don't get All the nutrients they need. My girls only eat a handful between then12 in summer. If I give anymore they just leave it
  5. Johnn

    Johnn Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 5, 2011
    How much room do yous think each hen would need to do this?

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