Free feeding ?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sbaker, May 1, 2008.

  1. sbaker

    sbaker In the Brooder

    Feb 10, 2008
    VA Soutwest
    At what age do you quit free feeding your chickens or do you? Our oldest are almost 3 months old.

  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I keep a feeder hanging in the hen house 24/7 with feed in it. They always have access to it anytime they want.

    The more they free range the less they eat from the feeder but I always like them to have it available.
  3. sbaker

    sbaker In the Brooder

    Feb 10, 2008
    VA Soutwest
    We can't let ours out to free range. With stray dogs, cats around and the hawks we just put a run off the coop
  4. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Songster

    Jan 25, 2008
    Most people I know free feed all the time and at any age.

    I think the only time you cannot free feed is if you have Broilers. I think that Broilers can overeat themselves.

    Any other chickens should be able to free feed any and all time.

  5. sBrickmanHouse

    sBrickmanHouse Songster

    Feb 10, 2008
    We keep our feeders full all the time.

    Our girls have a run, and we dump all our table scraps in it for them, as well as weeds from the garden and black oil sunflower seeds.

    As you would expect, the more table scraps and greens they get, the less crumbles they eat, but everything gets devoured, and they're quite cranky if we've accidentally let their feeders get empty!
  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    In the old days, it was standard to feed at certain times of the day, and only what they would eat in about fifteen minutes. Often part of the ration was dampened, usually with the skim milk from cows. This was fed just before night, so the birds could more readily digest it and have something to tide them over the night.
    If you've never tried it, youll find that chickens love a dampened feed mash above all others.

    During no-feeding times, wheat middlings and other cracked grains (scratch) was tossed into their litter. This keeps them busy and occupied and allows them, literally, to scratch for their supper.

    This 'rationing' of rations was common practice on egg and meat concerns, mind you. They wanted precise control over the bird, it's feeding and to ensure it got the proper amount of feed. Besides, they had little else to do but count chicken feed!

    Only after 'factory poultry culture' got going commercially was the idea of constant feeding espoused. Much of what we do as hobbyists is inspired by the very commercial practices we despise. More than you may guess.

    24/7 feeding is alright and wont hurt anything, of course. It's okay to do that, especially if your birds cannot range. And it is surely easier on the modern chicken keeper, who surely has other things to do than tend chickens all day. But it isn't the only way.
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I free feed all my birds, broiler and layer.

    However, they all go to bed at night so don't eat while it is dark.

    For the broilers, who if they had light on 24/7, could over eat, I take the light away at about 5 weeks old and so they effectively self regulate when it comes bed time.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: