Feeding chickens - are we doing it right?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by elmerfudd, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. elmerfudd

    elmerfudd New Egg

    Aug 10, 2008
    Hello there - We are wondering if we're feeding our chickens too much feed (cracked corn, layer crumbles). They get an equal amount of each which is kept in feeders; the chickens eat whenever they want. They are in a large fenced-in area which they have cleared to the ground. So, year-round there's little grass or plants to eat; probably plenty of bugs except for winter months. We sell the eggs (even in Dec-Jan we're getting around 30 eggs a day) but are paying more for feed than we were six months ago.

    Are we over-feeding our girls (40+ plus two roosters)? or would they be fine just being thrown feed morning and night, then scavenging for the rest of the day? And what about these winter months? how should these cold months be handled differently than the warmer/hot months?

    Hope this makes sense. Love your website, BYC! Thank you, from elmerfudd
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  2. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    If they are enclosed they need feed out all the time. Chickens cant hold a lot of food at a time, that's why they are frequent (or constant) eaters. Even in summer there will not be enough bugs etc to keep them fed if they are in an enclosed run. If they are free ranging over a large area like a big backyard, pasture, garden, etc you can feed less chicken feed, but not if they are confined and especially not in winter. I would not feed them as much cracked corn as layer feed, so the shells will be stronger.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Mine free range most of the time. Feed is available 24/7. In winter they eat a WHOLE lot more feed than in summer. There's nothing much out there for them now; they don't even spend much time foraging this time of year, they make their rounds early in the day then just hang around somewhere. They still eat a little feed in summer but there are days I barely see the feed go down in the feeders, if I do.

    Cracked corn, like scratch, is chicken candy. Like giving candy to kids, they will eat it instead of real food if they can. It needs to be a small quantity treat.
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I would cut out the cracked corn and feed just the layer feed, which should be offered free choice year round. In the summer months when they can forage for more, they will eat a little less of it. You can perhaps throw a handful or two of cracked corn out as a treat or to encourage them to scratch around but I wouldn't make it a significant portion of their daily rations.
  5. catdaddy66

    catdaddy66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2009
    Lugoff, SC
    Cracked corn should be called CRACK corn because that is what it is!! Chicken CRACK!! [​IMG] Seriously, it should be a once-in-a-while treat and not daily (< 10% of feed per week) It has very little protein value and is mostly carbs (think sugar) and, of course, they absolutely love it!! That does not mean it's good for them. Chickens are much like kids in that given a choice, they go for junk food first! We have to keep their diet healthier so they will prosper...then we will prosper. A very good thing.
  6. E.G.Glayer

    E.G.Glayer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2009
    Blanchester OH
    All good advice cut out alot of cracked corn/scratch. No more than 10% of their diet is exactly right and free choice feeding is what I do. I scratch mine every evening but no more than they can eat in about 5 minutes. The layer feed should have evrything they need.
  7. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    If you want to cut down on feed, get them some scraps. Bread, veggies, fruits... If it above freezing, just chuck it out in their yard and they will scratch it up and eat and peck and have chickeny fun.

    And make sure they have oyster shell, of course.
  8. grendel

    grendel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2010
    Walbridge ohio
    I sure wouldnt leave food available 24/7 because of mice problems and chickens will sometimes eat until they EXPLODE!!!! just kidding
  9. elmerfudd

    elmerfudd New Egg

    Aug 10, 2008
    I appreciate very much the great responses! Will cut back the cracked corn immediately and hope they do not revolt....[​IMG]

    Of our two roosters, they can eat the layer without any other supplementing? Thanks again everyone - have a great week!

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