How do you feed your chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chicks Galore3, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    What do you think is the best feeding system for chickens (layers)- having it out all the time or rationing it? I'm sure I'll get lots of different answers. :)
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I think it depends on your goals, set-up, and how you manage them. Do you use an automatic feeder? If so, whether you need mash, crumbles, or pellets will depend on which system you use.

    Do yours only get chicken feed, no foraging and no treats? If you only feed commercial feed, you can calculate how much each needs and feed that exact amount. If yours forage or get treats, you don’t have that tight control over it. That will depend some on quality of forage or quality and volume of treats.

    How much waste do you get? That will depend on your feeder some but chickens tend to peck at larger pieces. Some people find less waste with pellets that say crumbles. But some have their feeders set up for crumbles so there is little waste.

    One trick commercial operations use to get each and every hen to eat all she needs to lay a Grade A large egg and not have food hogs disrupt that rationing is to very carefully put out what all the hens will clean up at one time and give them plenty of space to eat at the same time. Then they wait until they are hungry again to put out another carefully controlled amount.

    What is the make-up of your flock? I seem to always have growing chicks that should not be eating Layer because of the extra calcium in it, so I usually feed Grower with oyster shell on the side.

    How do I feed? I have it available to them from when they wake up until they go to bed. They have forage capacity.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I am using fermented feed which is made up of half and half 24% gamebird starter and 8% scratch grains (corn, oats, wheat, and milo), a small amount of apple cider vinegar, and water. It contains 16% protein this way. This is fermented for 3 days in a 5 gallon bucket, then fed to the chickens in bowls. I also have 16% pellets available if they run out of FF. There is a thread Fermented Feed for meat birds, but many people are using it on layers, since it appears to make the yolks larger and the birds very healthy. Many people use their own combination of chicken feed, whole grains, and other additives to their FF--I just like this combo myself.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  4. capow21

    capow21 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 27, 2012
    From what I understand, a hen has natural nutritional knowledge and she will regulate her own diet and keep a balance of essential nutrients. They primarily eat to satisfy their energy needs. With that said, the feed should be available free choice. That way each individual hen can select her diet to meet her needs. BUT, then it can get more complex from there, where some people will offer two different feeds free choice, one with higher amounts of certain nutrients and one with lower amounts, so the hens can choose to eat from either one depending on what her needs are. Plus you can factor in anytime they have to free-range and what treats you give them. If they free-range and get treats they will most likely eat less feed.

    I'm fairly new at this too though, so it will be interesting to see what others say.
  5. Sandyd

    Sandyd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2012
    My husband grinds our feed and has the protein content around 19, they have access to this all day. Mine don't forage outside of their fenced and covered area as we have to many predators. I give them veggies when I have excess, a slab of hay once in a while to scratch in, side dressing of oyster shell and grit, Throw a scoop of mixed grains and seeds in their coop daily for them to scratch around and sometimes put it out in the run if it is sunny. For extra treats they get withered up apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkins,squash or anything that I have on hand. I sometimes buy a bag of layer feed and put a scoop of that around for change. I think it depends on what you have access to. I feel lucky that we don't have to buy bagged feed as I fear it would break the bank.

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