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Free choice feeding vs. Scheduled feeding; opinions??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Swhite2415, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Swhite2415

    Swhite2415 Chirping

    Jun 13, 2019
    Newfoundland, PA
    What are ya'lls benefits for both??

    When we first started out, we were told to keep food and water accessible at all times, especially for ducks, even if free ranging. I'm part of quite a few groups on facebook and always see videos of "breakfast" or "dinner time". Just wanna make sure I'm doing what is best for them!!

    I've also seen some people mention not having water in duck coops at night because it's so messy. Being I keep food readily available, I always have water available. Is that not a necessity?? Thanks again guys ya'll are always so helpful!
    ButtonquailGirl14 likes this.
  2. 2 many chickens

    2 many chickens Songster

    Jan 14, 2017
    I schedule feed. It works for us. I always have fresh water available. It is insanely hot and they need lots of water. I don't keep it in the coop though.
  3. Frazzemrat1

    Frazzemrat1 Free Ranging

    May 8, 2017
    Eastern Connecticut
    I always have food and water available for my chickens. I wouldn't if I had meat birds, since they'd just continuously eat... but as I don't... I do.
  4. Shamo Hybrid

    Shamo Hybrid Songster

    Jun 6, 2018
    I used to always fill the feeder to the brim and let them eat whenever they want, that is until I found out they were actually pigs! I then think it was too much, they were over-eating unnecessarily so I stopped and gave them scheduled feeding times. It saves money and I think is actually better for them health wise because they are like goldfish, at least mine are, and will eat until they explode!
    chrissynemetz likes this.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I've never had dual purpose or egg breeds overeat chicken feed. IMO, they need feed available all waking hours. When their crop is empty, they are hungry and they will then eat something - whether that be feed, bedding, feces, tree bark or rocks. I'd rather they eat feed. Perhaps if someone has 3 birds and are fastidious enough, they may be able to successfully ration feed into 3 or more servings per day. But I currently have 6 flocks of chickens so I can't do that. All flocks have a bulk feeder in the coop that is kept full or at least filled before it empties.
  6. Helloworld

    Helloworld Songster

    Jul 17, 2018
    Down on the Suwannee River
    I free feed. They don’t eat at night but my ducks do. Also, even if your not feeding ducks at night they still need water. My buckets are full of sand where they dig through the dirt and they need water to completely dip their heads or it gets impacted and foamy eye disease comes up from not being able to keep them clean at all times.
    Chickens, some feed twice a day and it may work but my chickens eat at different times and throughout the day. If you do choose to time feed, give feed around 2 hrs before dark so they have time to fill that crop up good. Some of my chickens eat the most before bed, especially when cold so they can make the heat to keep them warm. Some prefer to go free range and will come in at early noon to eat. You never know and then you come into the problem of fights, bony breastbones and and sometimes even cannibalism.
  7. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    I feed on a schedule, otherwise I'm just feeding the wildlife all day every day and go through way more food than necessary.
    chrissynemetz and Connewarre like this.
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    These are all good points.
    I don't think the original question could be answered correctly if one doesn't know whether the OP's chickens are truly free ranging on pristine pasture or confined to a barren pen.
    Most of my birds free range with a lot of territory. This time of year they could almost feed themselves but for at least 6 months of the year they would starve in short order.
    I still keep feed before them all day but they use half or less of the feed they use in winter.
    Keeping feeders in the coops has really helped control thievery.
    chrissynemetz and R2elk like this.
  9. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    Yeah... depends what kinds of wildlife is around. I have trouble making anything prairie dog proof.
  10. Wolfefarmyard

    Wolfefarmyard Crowing

    Aug 18, 2017
    Gansevoort, NY
    I do scheduled feeding. This is because mine free range, however I do have a silkie flock that’s confined too. They get free feed.

    I think that those whom are confined should have access to feed at all times, but if they’re free ranged scheduled feeding can work, since they can forage as well.
    ChickenCanoe likes this.

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