First day out in the tractor, should I be providing food?

Sinfonian

Songster
8 Years
9 Years
Jan 24, 2011
193
1
101
Seattle area
My coop is not done yet, but the weather is improving and the 4 girls are getting antsy in their brooder at nearly 2 months old. So I built a quick tractor for them to hang out in the yard and forage on bugs and grass (which they love). I know I should be providing water for their 8 plus hours outside, but should I be providing chicken feed? I don't want them to fill up on feed and not forage... I'm trying to give them as much of a free-range experience as I can while protecting my garden. Here's a pic of the tractor I took today.



Thoughts? Thanks!
 

BlueBetween

Songster
8 Years
Apr 4, 2011
252
3
113
Near Seattle
I put food out with mine, but when I give them grass or whatever from the yard, they go to town on that instead. I think it's important that they get enough protein while they are growing - so, unless they are finding a lot of bugs, I'd put some out for them.
 

catchthewind

Songster
8 Years
Jan 27, 2011
366
4
113
Vancouver Island
I never did, in a very similar situation to yours (almost identical in fact). I made sure they had lots of time to eat before and after going out though, and learned how to check the crop to make sure they were full. We were also often out gardening and made sure to throw them any weeds or worms.

Now that they're out in the coop, the first week we mostly kept them locked up and went through an entire feeder's worth of food. Refilled the food and around that time started letting them free range (though now they do have access to feed during the day too). It's been over two weeks and the feeder is still at least a third full, so they're definitely managing to find the majority of their own food.
 

gritsar

Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
13 Years
Nov 9, 2007
28,906
347
661
SW Arkansas
IMO, eight week old chicks need food available to them at all times. Even when free ranging or in a tractor.
 

catchthewind

Songster
8 Years
Jan 27, 2011
366
4
113
Vancouver Island
Just reread your post and I should clarify that my chicks were never outside for 8hours in their little tractor. They were pretty clear when they wanted to come in too. Maybe if I'd put food they would have been happier for longer.
 

Sinfonian

Songster
8 Years
9 Years
Jan 24, 2011
193
1
101
Seattle area
Thank you all for your great thoughts and hey Blue Between, still love that coop and ladder!

Today I will give them food. However, I've noticed in the two days they've been out they hardly touch the weeds I throw them, or are in the ground. Worms on the otherhand... hehe.

Thanks!
 

MANNA-PRO

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