Free Range Feed Intake

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by MayberrySaint, May 11, 2007.

  1. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

    Mar 7, 2007
    Mount Airy, NC
    I need some guidance...since I have been letting my 8 wk old pullets out to their back yard (approximately 3/4 of an acre), their feed intake has dropped to 33% of normal. I know they are eating lots of goodies (seeds, bugs, etc.), but is such a drastic drop-off normal? They are really only spending a few minutes in the coop because they seem to love being outside. Should I put their food outside to encourage eating their starter ration? or will they balance their diet with the goodies?
    I sure like the effect on the feed bill...[​IMG]

    Last edited: May 11, 2007
  2. bayouchica

    bayouchica Songster

    Jan 23, 2007
    N.E. Louisiana
    Hi there Andy, with the 62 chickens I have free ranging now, a 50 bag will last about 2 and half weeks.I have three feeding stations around our place. Might not hurt to have a feeder out somewhere protected from the weather so they could hang out.
    Did you ever post any pics of your chickens?Sorry to keep asking, hard to keep up seems like these days. [​IMG]
  3. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing Premium Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    Food intake on mine drops about 60% this time of year. All those fresh bugs and green shoots.

    Who wants KD when you can have steak?
  4. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    My 10 weekers are all free range now from mid morning until they put themselves to 'bed' near dusk. Their feed consumption has dropped by about 50%, but I judge them by feel. They still feel 'meaty' so they must be eating enough! I watch them catch bugs, and eat my shrubs and grass with the goats. Oh, and they have just discovered how tastey the goats Sweet feed is! [​IMG] I keep an automatic watering tub out in the yard, both for the chickens and the goats, and they all seem fine and happy.
  5. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Quote:We keep all the feeders inside the house. Our birds forage our 2 acres and ALWAYS come back to the barn if they want feed, grit, oyster shell. I also keep their waterers inside. However, I do keep large bowls of water in several spots in the farm yard for our Great Pyrenees. The chickens drink out of them if they want water.

    Keeping feed inside helps keep wild animals and birds from eating it. As you have seen, their foraging will definitely help with the feed bill. Put a bit of that money aside for winter feed, as I've heard at the local feed mill that feed is expected to take another price hike soon.


    if edited, probably for typos..
  6. keljonma:
    Are you saying your chicks can get in and out of the coop all day?

    Our coop isn't like that; once they're out they won't be able to get back in unless I let them in. Do they need access to feed if they're foraging in summer?
  7. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    yes they do...I suggest keeping the feed in a place outside the coop and removing it in the evening (most birds wont come into the coop unless bad weather or else that it is time to go to sleep)
  8. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    devora ... Mine can get in and out of the coop all day long too. Maybe you could make a "chicken" size door that could stay open while they are out foraging? And yes, they still need access to their feed no matter what time of year it is. Grass is good, but does not supply everything they need to be healthy. My 10 weekers have really learned the ropes. Their 'door' opens around 10am (as thats about when it starts to warm up) and stays open all day. They are always waiting by the door in the morn when it opens, and they all come rushing out! They usually are out for awhile, and if it gets too hot or something startles them, they go back in the coop for awhile. I've noticed that they'll eat a little of their feed while they're in the coop. Then they'll continue to go in and out on their own until about sunset, when they all head in and stay in. I didnt have to 'teach' them to go into the coop either, they just 'knew' that they are to sleep in the coop. Guess I'm lucky, because my baby goats do the same thing! Then once they've all gone into their coop (or pen for the goats) I go "tuck them in" and lock them up for the night. I double check everyones feed and water, put fresh hay down for the goats, and then shut all their doors and windows.

    My suggestion for you would be to find a way to make it so they can go in and out as they please.
  9. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Quote:The place where your birds nest and sleep is the house. The fenced playground area is the run. Together they are called the coop. So, I'm guessing what you mean is that your birds can't get back into the house after they are outdoors in the run or yard (if foraging).

    If that is so, then yes, you need to provide feed AND water outdoors.

    Our flock goes where ever they want on our farm from sun up to sun down. We lock them up in the hen house at night to help protect them from predators.

    We sectioned off a 15' x 20' portion of our old barn for the hen house. We have 2 fenced acres and do not have a fenced run. Like I said, the birds forage the whole property.

    In warm weather, I open up the barn doors, the pet door and people door into the hen house and everyone runs outdoors. They come into the house to get feed, but can drink water from one of the bowls of water we keep around the farm yard for our Great Pyrenees.

    In winter, I only open the hen house pet door and people door. The pet door gives access to the farm yard to any bird who wants to brave the weather. When the people door is open, it gives them access to the inside of the barn.

    Here is a pic of our pet door into the hen house taken last autumn.

    Our Columbian Wyandotte drinking water from a bowl in the farmyard.

    Hope that helps.


    if edited, probably for typos....
    Last edited: May 13, 2007

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