concern for overfeeding. Founded or unfounded? Certain ones eat more


11 Years
Mar 10, 2008
we recently brought 6 different chickens home (leghorn, aracuna, rhode island red, dominique,etc.) Having some debate as to feeding them. I feel that we are underfeeding them, it is cold and outdoor access is limited and we are feeding them each .25 pounds of layer feed, that's all. No oyster shells (but we'll have that soon.) I understood that chickens will eat only what they need. My friend feels we need to be careful not to overfeed them, that it would make them not as good egg layers. I feel the poor little things are always hungry. Also our leghorn is like the pug of the chicken world while others seem less interested. I just want to do what's right for them as creatures not just what is cost effective. Your help is appreciated.
Chickens will eat no more than they want. Unless you want a meat chickens for a pet. I have rhode island reds and leave layer feed mixed with one cup of stratch out all day. My 3 hens lay at least two eggs a day, so feeding them all day ain't affecting that.

Hope this helps.
* You have to keep in mind seueral things, I think-- Chickens vary, Feeds Vary & People vary. I provide mine 1/3 cup+ of food & I'm sure I'm overfeeding A LITTLE. HOWEVER, the 1/4 cup thing comes to us direct from the factory-- and they AREN'T feeding those birds for longeuity, either. . . .
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For laying type chickens, they should have access to free choice feed at all times. It's highly unlikely your chickens will get too fat unless their movement is completely restricted or you feed A LOT of treats or both. They are designed to eat constantly, but a little at a time. If you are feeding them and they are hungry, they will scarf down the food and can choke on it.
Layer pellets, crumbles or mash and plenty of fresh water left out 24/7.....scratch thrown out in the evenings on cold winter nights to help them stay warm....

The only thing that makes chickens fat is being fed too much scratch, cracked corn and lots of treats...they will stop laying....
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I have a hanging feeder we keep it full all the time....The chickens are not to fat and we get an egg a day from almost every one of our 9 hens (atleast 7 a day every day even through the winter).

you be the judge
We keep feed available all the time too. If I feel like someone is 'hogging' or there are pecking order issues that are keeping some bird or birds from getting adequate food, I'll put out a couple of 'small feeders' (like, say, a little feed in the saucer part of a clay pot) that are far apart from one another. That way, some 'bully' can't guard all the feed at once, and it's easier for everyone to get their share.
I echo a lot of the advice here. Laying hens should have access to laying feed at all times. Also plenty of fresh clean water. the only chickens youhave to worry about over feeding are meat birds. You will get a good supply of healthy top quality eggs as long as your hens are getting plenty of feed to eat, treats and free choice oyster shell. When the diet is lacking chickens will pick one another, eat feathers and even resort to taking bites out of other chickens in the flock to get what their body needs.
I too feed 24/7 as they will eat what they need. Keep in mind most "feed requirements" for layers are based on the 3lb body frame of a commercial leghorn. A 6 lb back yard bird will have to eat a lot more than a bird kept in a tiny cage without much movement allowed.
Tally one more vote for feed left out all the time. I have a large metal feeder we keep layer pellets in, not really full all the time because it is too big and the food in the top would be old by the time they ate that much, but enough to keep the tray on the bottom full all the time. Then we feed kitchen scraps and weeds (we have a lot of those!) whenever we have them or when we go to see the hens.

I have nine hens (all young) and we get 7 to 9 eggs every day. I am careful to not overfeed stuff like cheesy casserole with a lot of calories, but other than that so far so good!


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