Feeding at Night!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chelsea-85, Jan 9, 2019.

Tags:
  1. Chelsea-85

    Chelsea-85 Chirping

    84
    244
    83
    Dec 24, 2018
    Kurdistan
    Hi everyone,

    I know it sounds unusual for you, but since the first day I bought birds, I feed them every night (about 3 to 4 hours after the sunset). They really like it at night. Once I put on a chargeable light above the small coop, they come out of the nesting box and start eating eagerly for about an hour, they drink fresh water and head back to the nesting coop.

    I know it is not normal, but I have done it and I will keep them fed at night. It is fun and they really like it.


    Do you feed your chickens at night?
     
  2. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    40,390
    71,019
    1,437
    Jan 30, 2015
    It disrupts their natural daily pattern, so no I would not.
     
  3. Chelsea-85

    Chelsea-85 Chirping

    84
    244
    83
    Dec 24, 2018
    Kurdistan
    Perhaps you have right not to do it, but I have done it for about a year without ruining their daily pattern.
     
  4. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    40,390
    71,019
    1,437
    Jan 30, 2015
    I'm not judging what you do - just answering your question and presenting my rationale, 'tis all :)
     
  5. Chelsea-85

    Chelsea-85 Chirping

    84
    244
    83
    Dec 24, 2018
    Kurdistan
    Thank you dear for your comment, you are right, we are dealing with the birds differently :) just wanted to share it with you
     
  6. Notaneggspurt

    Notaneggspurt Songster

    135
    249
    126
    May 17, 2016
    TN
    My Coop
    I do not feed my chickens at night. They have food available all day when they are awake. And now I'll be THAT person.

    I think there might be some language barriers in this conversation. My understanding is you let your chickens go to bed with no food in their crop then you wake them up to feed them. They eat non stop for an hour. Is this correct?

    I believe what he means this is not natural for their digestion pattern. Most animals and even humans do most of their digestion when they go to sleep. The body has a natural cycle that begins specifically at sleep time. If it does not have food to get energy from it will use it's own body as food.

    You have the right to do this to your birds. That does not make it correct. It is not natural for a chicken to eat for an hour. They are starving. This is not fun for them. If you have had them for a year I am guessing you are not raising these chickens to be eaten. And no matter what anyone else says you aren't going to stop. Do not expect much positive response from this.
     
  7. Chelsea-85

    Chelsea-85 Chirping

    84
    244
    83
    Dec 24, 2018
    Kurdistan
    Dear Notaneggspurt,

    I think you have misunderstood me. I have a small coop for 2 pullets and a cockerel. They have access for food 24/7 (they have commercial feed, soaked bread and fresh water ALL THE TIME) as well as daily vegetables kitchen leftovers.
    My point is that they have extra meal at night. I put on the chargeable light for them for one hour, during that hour they eat, drink water and perch and spend some time under the light), I didn't literally mean they eat for one hour without stop, but during that hour they eat, drink and spend time until they freely head back to the nesting box. Once they all go back to sleep, I put off the light.
    I have bought small chicks, fed them well, got their eggs, and finally eaten them, not once, three times since last year, without having one dead. They never had problem with night eating, if they would, they wouldn't come out from the nest and start eating.
    And I didn't write this thread in order that you guys write positive responses for me. I just wanted to share it with you.

    Any way, thank you for your comment dear.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    21,613
    8,243
    626
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Generally I do not, but have had to do so when going on trip early in the following morning. My intent is to keep food scarce for rodents after dark, so feed amount adjusted to most days all consumed by time birds go to roost.
     
  9. Chelsea-85

    Chelsea-85 Chirping

    84
    244
    83
    Dec 24, 2018
    Kurdistan
    Good job and good luck dear
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

    6,810
    7,845
    506
    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I too give my birds a "midnight feast" treat.... usually a warm mash made with a mixture of layer pellets and chick crumbs soaked in warm water or fermented feed and they love it.
    They have layer feed available 24/7 but they really enjoy their late night top up and it is surprising how many older girls have come back into production after I started making it a regular feature..... it's not usually "midnight" but can be anywhere from 8pm to 1am. I too allow them about an hour of artificial light during this time and once their pans of feed have been gobbled up, some go back up onto the roost and preen whilst others scratch about or eat from the regular dry pellet feeder. It actually has me thinking that the shorter days mean that they actually have less time to ingest food and that may be part of the reason why egg production drops during the winter. If it was purely down to light stimulating the pineal gland to produce hormones then why have my birds started back up laying right around the winter solstice when the days are at their very shortest? That extra hour of light during the night is hardly going to make a difference to the bare 9 hrs of natural light at this time of year, especially when they are in a dim stable for most of that time. If you think about it, in summer they can eat from 4am until 10 pm, so their crop full of food that they go to roost with is probably digested in 6hrs. In winter, if they go to roost at 4pm with a full crop, it could be almost empty by 10pm. An evening feed enables them to top that up to take them through until dawn, so more nutrients are going through their system enabling them to have more spare for egg production. My older girls (2-6yr olds) have almost all come back into lay already and my pullets from June are laying well.

    If I don't put the light on and just go in to collect eggs without a pan of feed at night I am usually met by a protest group.
    I also like the fact that I can watch them and make sure everyone is keen to eat and getting their share. At other times of the day when some of them may already have filled up from the feeder before I get there, there is not such enthusiasm for my pan of food, especially if I let them out to free range at the same time. They all want to go their separate ways, so this night time treat gives me an opportunity to observe them more closely and give special attention/food to any that are low on the pecking order.... those birds also learn to come to me for their feed and helps to tame them and I get to interact with my flock when much of the rest of the day, I don't have time.

    I'm not advocating others to do this and the only reason I do it is because I struggle to maintain a daily routine for myself due to years of working rotating shifts, so my animals have all learned to adapt to my very flexible time schedule. Interestingly my horses and chickens and cats all seem quite chilled about this flexible approach.

    I agree that it is not natural and I don't know if it will have any long term effects but short term they seem very happy with the arrangement and I am getting eggs again which is nice. They are still getting a lot of dark time, so it may mess with their system less than adding artificial lighting for 4 hrs before dawn or in the evening. It is probably also more cost effective having a light on for 1 hr in the evening rather than 4 hrs if I am right about the extra food intake stimulating egg production as an alternative to light. This is probably the second winter that I have done this although I was more hit and miss about it last year.
    Anyway, I get pleasure from doing this and my hens seem to really enjoy it. They have almost all started back up laying within a couple of weeks of doing it nightly, which suggests to me they are not stressed by it. I like that my birds have down time from laying but since most moulted in September/October, they have had 3 months off which I think is reasonable and many also go broody in the summer, so they get down time then too. Interestingly the pens down here at home where I don't dish out a midnight feast are not yet laying, just the ones at my stable yard with the horses where I have electricity to put a light on and give them feed. They usually hear me feeding and mucking out the horses anyway and are probably mostly awake before I put the light on.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: