How much and how often to feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by gophert, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. gophert

    gophert In the Brooder

    Sep 20, 2011
    Sorry about the very basic question. We just acquired 3 hens-- 1 RIR, 2 Barred Rocks. The RIR is about 1 and the BRs are 3. I am feeding them organic feed (their former owner gave it to me so I don't know the brand, but it is full of brown rice and split peas), greens from the garden, bugs harvested from my compost [​IMG] and fruit and veggie scraps. I asked the former owner how much she fed them and she said "about two (32 oz) yogurt containers a day" of feed and "some scraps." Is that a lot of feed for only 3 hens, or no? I would guess that I am giving them about 2 cups of scraps a day. Does that still sound like the right amount of feed? Almost 4 lbs/day?? I gave them somewhat less the first few days but then they did seem to be "yelling" at me about it.

    Also, I have been feeding them first thing in the morning, sometime in the afternoon, and then late afternoon, and giving both feed and treats at all those times. They are in a chicken ark on grass, too (moving it every day). I am not free ranging them yet since we have to figure out our fence situation first.

    Also, is it true that giving too many treats will slow down laying? Eve if they are nutritious treats like greens and bugs? We have been getting 2 eggs/day. The RIR lays daily, the other two seem to kinda alternate.

  2. kizanne

    kizanne Songster

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    general rule of them is 4 to 6 oz. per day per bird.

    However most people just free feed giving them as much as they want and refilling the dish or dispenser when needed.

    Treats will only negatively effect their rate of lay if they are not nutritionally sound.

    Eggs take protein and calcium. Free feed oyster shell on the side if they get lots of treats.

    The greens and other treats can make the eggs tastier and more healthy such as flax seed can increase the Omega 3 content but without protein they won't have enough to lay everyday.
  3. Phenomenon

    Phenomenon In the Brooder

    Sep 17, 2011
    North Yorkshire
    As above!

    Our girls have access to unlimited layers pellets, water and mixed grit, including oyster shell. We give them a couple of handfuls of mixed corn in the morning and mid-afternoon.

    As for treats, they enjoy all the brassicas so we often chuck them some outer cabbage leaves and kale from the garden. Not too much though, those pesky crops soon fill up!

    And for a real treat, try some tepid porridge, apart from the obvious nutritional value, watching them toss the porridge around is very entertaining. [​IMG]

    One thing I'd add is that we don't give them this on a daily basis, layers and corn will suffice along with what they dig up in the garden. Treats are given now and then.
  4. gophert

    gophert In the Brooder

    Sep 20, 2011
    So there is no danger of making them too fat if they have free access all the time? I am just not used to the idea of a pet that cannot be overfed. [​IMG]

    I have oyster shell available to them but they seem to kind of ignore it, though I'm not 100% sure of that.

    The yolks are amazingly orange and the eggs taste amazing. [​IMG]
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    If you choose to feed portion feeding instead of free feeding, there will be a slight learning curve.

    Begin by offering 4 ounces per bird in the early morning. Later in the day, around mid to late afternoon, if the feed trough is empty, offer a slightly smaller portion, something around 2-3 ounces of feed per bird. See if they gobble that up.

    There is the advantage of not having feed out over night. This is advantageous in dealing with mice problems and mice follow chickens, believe me.

    It takes a little more doing to feed this way, but many of us do.
  6. gophert

    gophert In the Brooder

    Sep 20, 2011
    We do have rats and mice that come to our yard, so that is indeed part of why I did not want to leave feed out all the time. I also feed only as much treats as they will clean up completely. I am home most days with small kids and have time, so this is fine for now. So I will try that method and see. Thanks!

    I fed a larger amount in a dish this evening (as opposed to scattering 3X/day) and noticed that that brought out the pecking order, which we had previously not really observed. Low hen on the totem pole didn't get much feed. I guess that's a reason to scatter, huh?

    I did end up getting 3 eggs today--yay!--so that would seem to indicate that the girls are doing pretty well. I was surprised to find that one bird laid in the later afternoon.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  7. IRChicken

    IRChicken In the Brooder

    Sep 20, 2011
    How about a worm farm and feed them the worms for protein? [​IMG]
    Watching Youtube, a British Columbia egg farmer said the chickens eat about 2 cups of grain mix a day per chicken.
    According to a grain chart in the Meyers catalog they eat 1 lb per chicken per week from 17 weeks onward.

    Edit: Checking numbers, 120 cups per 50 lb bag. At 2 cups a day, 2 cups would be 12-13 ounces.
    They should eat less if fed other things, like greens.

    50 lb bag = 1 cu. ft.
    1 cu. ft = 1728 cu. inches
    1 us cup = 14.4375 cu. inches

    1728 / 14.4375 = 119.688 (120) cups per cubic foot or 50 lbs.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011

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