Frantic Chickens-encouraging more grazing/foraging

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by healtyfeathers, Sep 25, 2014.

  1. healtyfeathers

    healtyfeathers In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2014
    I have a flock of 21 chickens on grassy field. I The number of chickens is balanced to the area. The grass stays green year round. The chickens graze and I’ve been trying to encourage them to graze more, by slowly decreasing their food. I was over-feeding them and they got too spoiled. Now that I’ve been scaling down their food, they act totally frantic every time I go out to the yard. They are getting enough to eat (full crops) but since I’ve slowed down on the food, they come running and crowd around the fence every time they hear my voice and all stand around squabbling until I leave. It didn’t used to be this way, but I used to feed them so much that there were always leftovers. I feed them once a day, and try to do it at the same time of day (morning). A few questions; does anyone know how what percentage of a chicken’s diet can be made up of grass? I think that I still may be over-feeding them, that they could be grazing more but they spend a lot of time standing around waiting for feed. What is the best time of the day to feed them, to encourage more grazing/foraging? Morning or evening? Have I spoiled these chickens to the point that they won’t increase the amount that they graze? Any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated!!!
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    How much grass they will eat it will depend on how much they can get out of the grass species in the pasture. I do know that they don't live on only grass. In fact the more "weeds" you have the more they will get out of grazing. Weeds offer much more for omnivores like us and chickens. Some do the feeding in the late afternoon to encourage them to look for food themselves. Me I always have feed out for them. They will always go crazy at feeding time no matter if they have filled their crops foraging. Give critter something good that they don't have to work for and they will act like that, especially if it is only once a day.
  3. gggeek

    gggeek In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2014
    Don't have chickens yet but have done a ton of research and reading on the forums on this topic. From my understanding the estimate is 15% of the diet from free ranging (not just grass; need to consider items like bugs, acorns, other plants). More than that and the nutrition is unlikely to be balanced. With that said, I've seen info that up to 40% and I've seen inner city projects where chickens are fed on nothing more than scraps from restaurants. Morning grazing seems to be the accepted time and I've seen a lot of information indicating chickens eat once every two hours.
  4. healtyfeathers

    healtyfeathers In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2014
    The pasture area I have is actually kind of weedy. The grass and weeds are all seeding right now and they eat a lot of the seeds. I think I'm going to try and move their feeding time to late afternoon, as suggested. Den in Pen, you always leave feed out, don't your chickens just hang out around the food all day long?? I have Production Reds, and if I leave the feed out there, they won't leave the general area of the feeder. What breeds do you have? I'm wondering if maybe my breed just isn't a good forager.
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Full crops will not let you know if they eating enough or if there full, all that it tells you is that they are eating and that there crops are full.
    Chicken eat to fill a caloric need not to fill there stomachs. If that need is not meet they will keep eating and always act hungry..

    Free ranging is a treat just like scratch or table scraps and should not replace there regular poultry feed.
    Depending on there regular poultry you can feed from 10 to 20 percent treats.
    If your feeding a low protein feed (16%) feed no more than 10% treats,
    feeding a 18% feed no more than 15% treats,
    now if your feeding a 20% protein feed or higher you can feed 20% treats.

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