feeding chickens


9 Years
May 23, 2010
I have had 10 hens for a year now. We feed them high quality layer pellets. Of course every day with out fail,,and plenty of water. Also weekly ,,leftover bread and some food scraps and a can of corn/peas every 2 weeks or so.

They look healthy and lay lots of eggs with strong shells. What I am wanting to know is???
They always seem to be fighting hungry when I feed them. Like they have not ate in a week. I have never seen them ,or fed then enough to see them stop eating. Is this normal?? Or am I not feeding them enough?

I have heard of people putting feeders up that have non stop food,,,at this point,, I can't imagine doing that. I go through about a 40lb bag of food in 2 weeks with 10 hens.
1. Layer hens (not meaties) really need to have feed available if they aren't free ranging. They fill their crops over and over during the day. It is really hard for them to get all that food in there at once.

2. Layer hens are widely quoted to need 1/4 lb food per hen per day. So for 10 hens, that would be 2.5 lb per day (if my math is correct, lol!) and 75 lb per month.

So, in reality, you are probably close to what they need, but maybe they need just a bit more and it is stressing them out.

You might consider throwing them their food, then filling a small feeder with some food to hold them over. Are you giving them food twice a day?
Mine have pellets 24/7, free range, and get lots of treats (veggies, scratch, meal worms, bugs out of the pool). They have PLENTY of food. But every time they get something, the act like they are STARVING. I think some of that is just the nature of chickens.
Mine (not laying yet) always have food, plus scraps or treats every morning.

But when I toss dove food out for my doves or even their own food out they jump on it and squabble. The funniest thing is that there will be a pile of food, but if one chick grabs a piece and runs with it, the others all chase, abandoning the pile.

It's their nature.

But I agree about open access food. If you're feeding them enough they won't eat much more than they are now, but it will be constant, not hungry all day, then ravenous. It's not good for them either to try to pack it all in at once. I am new to chickens, but have kept other birds for years and it is not recommended unless they're mostly scavenging and your food is just a supplement.
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You didn't say what type of chickens you have. I have nearly 50 chickens, and I go through about a hundred pounds of feed a month. Mine free range a few hours outside of their yards, and the yards are 900 sq ft for each group of 12-14 birds. They also get scratch once a day and a fruit/vege/left overs in the evening. Of all my birds, Speckled Sussex, Blue Andalusian, EE's, NN and Delawares, the Delawares eat twice as much as the other birds. I describe them as constantly hungry, as in "Yum! More, I want more! Hey, hold still I want to eat your toes"
. They are the only ones that will pick at a scab on my hands or arms or the beads on my shirt. Have been that way since day 2.
I have 8 ISA Browns and 2 Australorpes. And a Pekin duck. They do not free range at all but I do have a large enclosed coop. 19 ft X 24 ft.

Seems from the responses it is normal for them to act that way. They are healthy and lay lots of eggs so I think its all good.
The amount of feed you're going through sounds about right for the number of birds you have and no free-ranging. Most likely if you kept food out all day, they wouldn't eat any more. But anytime chickens see "new" food, whether it's pellets, crumbles, scraps, or treats, they act as if they haven't eaten in a week. Mine can have a full feeder of layer feed, and if go to refill the little bird's starter feed, my hens rush forward like starving refugees to attack it. Just the way chickens are...lol.
Agree. 40-50 lbs every two weeks is right. The behavior is more pavlovian than anything else. I've walked out with additional pellets and they act like that most of the time. All the while, their feeder may be 1/3 full. Most of the time, it is merely "you're the food guy!!!!" Like guys rushing the catering truck at a shop break.

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