Free range chicken feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SandraMort, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. SandraMort

    SandraMort Songster

    Jul 7, 2008
    How critical is the percent of protein in chickens that free range for at least several hours almost every day? At this point in time, I'm thinking of free ranging during school hours so the birds are out from (guessing, I don't know school schedule yet) 8:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday, plus other times that the kids aren't outside playing unsupervised. I would imagine that if the percent is too high, they'll eat more plants and if it's too low, they'll eat more bugs?

    How much less purchased feed does a free range consume? I read that a free ranged chicken will eat 30% calories from grass, but these wouldn't be full time free ranged until the kids are used to being around birds.

    Can I use bug infested grains to make my own bird food to supplement the free range time? I've seen a ton of feed recipes, so I know you can make your own, but I don't know about the buggy grain. I can't SEE why there would be problems.

    I know I use feed to lure them back inside, but if keep food in the barn during the day, will they eat too much grain and not enough foraged food?
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I'm not sure if this will help you but I leave my chicken feed available 24/7 for my chickens. Most days they get out of the run to free range for hours. When they are out free ranging I've never seen them go in to eat the chicken feed. They go through less chicken feed in the summer because of the free ranging... right now I don't think they've hardly touched their food for a week because they've been out most of every day and we're loaded with grasshoppers.
  3. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    Our chickens have access to free range 24/7, they still eat their feed but less of it, we feed them lots of zucchini, bean leaves, cucumber seeds, sunflower seeds and different types of grains along with the grass they feed on.
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I free range my girls and they prefer to run around picking things up. I provide layer in the coop 24/7 and oyster shell outside the coop 24/7. Since my birds can run as far as they want to, up to 7 acres but usually just stay around the house, sun up to sun down, they eat about half of what they'd eat cooped up for a day in the summer, and I'd say 2/3 of what they'd eat while cooped in the winter.

    Grass can be ground in the crop and help things pass, but unlike ruminants, chickens don't have the bacteria in them to break down cellulose and lignin (comprised of long chain repeating proteins) which are the primary components of grass besides water.

    The only problem with buggy grains I would see is that if the bugs eat the grain to grow... there'd be lots of bug poo in the grain which may harbor other problems. Eating any type of poo might not be so good. Perhaps look up raising meal worms on chicken feed for a cheap source of protein.
  5. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    I have one coop that free range all day. They eat so much less than the coop that only gets out for the 3 hours a day.
    The coop that free ranges are my egg layers and they make nibble a bit after they go in to lay an egg but for the most part their grain intake is very small. Maybe 50# every 3 months, even in the winter, which we don't have much of here.
    I offer it free choice because I am no chicken expert and I want my chickens to eat well.
    However, I can tell you my cooped birds that eat mostly chicken feed look a whole lot better. I guess no sunburn to feathers or stress of predators and possibly a lot more protein and balanced nutrient intake.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
  6. chicksinthemachine

    chicksinthemachine Songster

    Jul 8, 2008
    I let mine free range from about 11 to dusk I give cold treats on HOT days and plenty of cool water(I replace mine twice a day). They get crumbles(only 12 weeks) and a few bits of corn and sunflower seeds in the morning and when they go in for the night. If I feed too much the flies let me know! I have noticed a big difference in the amount this last week(very hot).

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