Free Range Chickens - Do you supplement?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jessieluv22, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. jessieluv22

    jessieluv22 In the Brooder

    Mar 25, 2015
    Lincoln Nebraska
    Just curious what the free-rangers out there supplement with. I usually buy the cheap scratch grains in the summer and the layer pellets in the winter. My thinking is they get more protein from the yard in the summer than the winter. I only have 2 chickens now but am brooding and adding to my flock soon.

  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Songster

    Oct 18, 2014
    in the winter i feed a mix of layer pellets, corn i grew during the growing season, clipping from the greenhouse, fish heads and guts from the fish, mealworms and earthworms from my breeding projects, and scraps from the kitchen. They love it!! During the summer they get occasional scratch grains and layer pellets as a treat, but mostly live off the land and the garden :)
    1 person likes this.
  3. broilerTX

    broilerTX Hatching

    Mar 26, 2015
    are you trying to get them to lay eggs? at my house I have about 32 laying hens and I feed them Cow town Laying Pellets, and a little bit lo hen scratch, but I mean if your trying to get them to sit on eggs so your flock can extend I suggest that
    1 person likes this.
  4. DanEP

    DanEP Songster

    May 15, 2010
    Cadiz Ky
    With 2 chickens they will only eat about a half pound of food a day so a bag of layer should last about 3 months. I'd feed the layer and save the scratch as a treat. The layer has about double the protein as the scratch plus calcium and vitamins that are good for the girls. I have a friend who only feeds layer for three months a year and feeds scratch the rest of the year because that was how his dad and grandpa did it. I feed layer all year and get almost twice as many eggs from my 22 girls as he does from 40. With the better egg production I can sell enough eggs to pay for the feed I give them ans supply eggs for three family's.
    1 person likes this.

  5. Honey Maid

    Honey Maid Chirping

    Jan 11, 2015
    State of Jefferson
    Great thread at just the right time too, I was just thinking about layer crumbles.

    So, you feed layer crumbles to boost egg production, the chickens&/or ducks do not neccesarily need it, if you dont want a lot of eggs? So I could feed an "All Flock" to everybody, and in the winter, when I want more eggs, feed them layer crumbles, in addition to some additional light, to boost egg production in the winter months.
    1 person likes this.
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging 7 Years

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Layer feed doesn't increase egg production. Layer feed is about 4% calcium and that does nothing to stimulate ovulation but it does replace the calcium lost in the medullary bone when an egg shell is made.
    Slightly more protein can have the potential to boost ovulation.

    To answer the OP's first question. I free range but chicken feed is still the bulk of their diet. I don't know where the OP lives but here, there is zero protein from the end of October till the end of March and no green forage from November to February.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging 6 Years

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    x2. I feed layer pellets and oyster shell free choice all year. They definitely eat less when there's no snow cover, but I would never depend on free range and scraps to be a complete diet for my birds, who lay eggs all year. Old-time birds generally had a much richer environment to scrounge in, and had much lower egg production. Mary
    2 people like this.

  8. DanEP

    DanEP Songster

    May 15, 2010
    Cadiz Ky
    like chickencanoe said the layer is to give them more calcium to replace what they use laying but still is better for them than just free ranging. If you have a mixture of birds you can feed all flock year round with oyster shell on the side and they'll be fine. Chickens can survive on free ranging but will be healthier and lay better with a higher protein diet.
    Layer feed is usually 16% protein and is sort of the minimum standard for what a chicken needs to lay well and maintain health. I prefer to feed 18%protein all flock for several reasons starting with I almost always have some pullets that aren't laying yet and they nor the rooster's shouldn't be getting the extra calcium.I have also found the all flock to increase laying and the girl just look better The higher protein also really helps when their molting.
    1 person likes this.

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