Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tstefanick, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. tstefanick

    tstefanick Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2008
    I have two questions. Although my husband and I have had chickens for nearly 10 years we have a couple issues we disagree on.

    1. He thinks chickens are wasteful and should therefore only be given a certain amount of feed per day. I think chickens scratch when they eat and therefore put a certain amount of food on the floor. We have our dispenser hanging by a rope from the ceiling of the coop to discourage hitch hikers. But they still manage to get their feet in and scratch food out on the floor. So, should we limit or should they always have ample food available?

    2. He thinks a "fast" once a week would increase egg production. By that I mean they would not be fed for 24 hours. They would still have water.

    Can anyone shed any light on these food issues?
  2. Teach97

    Teach97 Bantam Addict

    Nov 12, 2008
    Hooker, OK
    I agree that chickens are wasteful...they also scratch for food on the ground...if there is food onthe ground I make them clean it up...in other words if there is still food on the floor by next feeding I have probably over fed so I cut back a little...if there isn't any feed left...I probably under fed...personnaly I figure a little left-over is okay so i would say that I probably limit feed...I do not keep feeders full to the brim...fasting though? I do not think that will increase egg production...they gotta eat to make eggs..
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My feeder is raised to the height of my smallest hen's back. I have very little waste because they can't possibly get in the feed. I feed pellets and only a few ever end up on the floor.
    If a hen is without food (or water) for any length of time she is going to use what she has to maintain her own body first, before she'll put any into eggs. To my way of thinking, that means fasting would cause a decrease in laying, not the other way around.
    I have food and water available to my chickens 24/7. Having some waste is just a part of feeding chickens.
  4. Snakeoil

    Snakeoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 10, 2009
    SE Iowa
    Yep, I make them really get on their tip toes to eat, very little wasted.
  5. skeeter

    skeeter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2007
    Parma Idaho
    put something under the feeder to catch all the spillage,but dont take the feed away if they cant free range,
  6. fasbendera

    fasbendera Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2009
    I am going to agree with the no food, no eggs. I unwittingly was not keeping the water full 24-7 and they were out of water the last part of the day lets say 6-7 hours every other day. This was over a two week period and my productin came down to a trickle. Now water is full 24-7 and with 21 hens ranging in age from 3-2 years old I am getting 12-18 eggs a day.
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Gee, I know what it's like to disagree on issues like this. It's only happened a few times, but we had to talk about it a lot, before coming to an agreement.

    How high do you have your feeder hanging, if they are still able to scratch in it? It's good advice to have the tray portion they eat out of at the level of their backs, to keep them from scratching in it. If you have yours that high and a lot of food is still ending up on the floor, I'd invest some time in watching them, to see what they're doing. They could be billing it out or jumping on the feeder and making it sway, so that it spills as it tips.

    Some people have a pan under their feeders to catch spilled food, so it doesn't disappear into the litter. We happen to have one of the feeders that has baffles in the tray portion of the feeder, to keep the chickens from billing out the feed. That's where they swipe sideways with their beaks. We also elevate our feeders.

    We keep food out all the time. I only toss out a little scratch or sunflower seed to give them something to do, not the chicken feed. I've heard of people feeding them just at certain times of the day. There's a lot of different ways to keep chickens.

    Some people hold back adding new food temporarily, to make the chickens clean up what they spilled. That's not the same thing as fasting them, though.

    I wouldn't fast a chicken, unless I was treating it for an impacted crop. I've never heard of anyone doing that before. I think it would decrease production, not increase it. Or just cause the hen to steal protein and other nutrients from her own body to make the egg. Plus, being without food stresses chickens. In cold weather it would make it harder for them to generate body heat, unless they were total fatties to begin with. If they're only getting meals, not free feeding and being fasted one day a week, those chickens definitely won't have any excess fat.

    In general, adequate food, water and hours of lighting do more to maximize egg production than anything else. Short days, molting, going broody, inadequate food or not enough water decreases production. That's what I've read and experienced with my own chickens over the years.

    Are you having a production problem right now? Or is this just a philosophical debate at your house? If you're having a production problem, maybe we can help you with some ideas. Maximizing production, reducing feed costs and reducing waste are all popular topics on the forum. I'm sure people would enjoy hearing from you on all the threads related to these topics, as well as this one.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by