How much feed do they really need?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by taprock, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. taprock

    taprock Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have found many charts that show the protein levels needed for laying hens but never amounts. Since I have been asking I have heard: give them all they want, .3# daily, give crumble one day scratch the next, only at night so their crop is full, only in the morning so they start off full. At this point I'm not sure anymore. My birds are free range but lazy in the winter. Last year they ended up fat because they sat around and ate all winter. Has anyone ever seen guidelines for amounts of feed? I really don't like to have it sitting out since I have a chipmunk problem at the moment.
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The reasons the answers vary is because they must, as there are so many variables.

    If your birds were battery birds, with constants of temperature, they'd be fed 4 or 5 ounces of complete layer formula, per day, everyday.

    Since your birds range, it is going to vary, based upon how successful their hunting was that day. How lush the grass was, when it rained last, which insect was "in bloom" that particular day. In winter, an animal eats more simply because the range is typically dead and increased calories are required for body heat generation.

    Start out the day feeding them a healthy portion, 3 oz each bird, of complete ration. If layers, then layer formula. When they return to the coop in the evening, offer then an additional feeding of 2 ounces per bird. If they show little interest in the evening feeding, you can reduce the morning feeding amount. It is a balancing act, that requires observation of how much feed they are requiring. Watch the feeding troughs. If they are emptied quickly and often, you'll have to up the portion. If the troughs are often half full? You can reduce the amount fed and reduce waste and rodent attraction. The birds themselves determine whether they are requiring 4 ounces or 6 ounces per day.

    Finally, different breeds have differing feed amount requirements. Some birds are more thrifty and are better at feed conversion.
    In short? There are no simple, one size fits all answers.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    X 2 Feeding twice a day only as much as they clean up will help with the chipmunk problem.
  4. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    X 3,
    I will also add that the type of feed that you are feeding is going to make a difference on the amount of feed that you will need to feed.

    If the feed that you are using is a Low Energy feed you are going to need to feed more to fill there needs than if you were feeding a High Energy feed.

  5. taprock

    taprock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks that helps. I'm using standard laying mash and using the scratch only as treats during the day scattered around the yard. They also get leftovers and veggies but I use them more as a treat than as feed.
  6. cchardwick

    cchardwick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2009
    My Coop
    I had a chipmunk problem too and started trapping them. I finally caught about 30 of them! I was going through a whole feeder full of food every day for my 20 chickens, now it lasts me a week LOL.
  7. wendamus

    wendamus Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 17, 2012
    I'm having the same problem. I have a flock of 30. They free range, with a coop to go in at night. They're on 1/3 acre of uncut lawn grass, they eat it but its still long, seedy and lush. I feed 3 qts of layer crumbles and about the same scratch, just to fill them up. They always act starved, one of the meat roosters (12 wks old) attacked my arm yesterday because I dared to fill the water BEFORE I fed. So am I not feeding them enough?
  8. wendamus

    wendamus Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 17, 2012
    I should clarify - 9 layers at about 4 1/2 months old, still not laying. 4 meat birds at 12 weeks, overdue to be processed. And 18 meat birds at 8 weeks, a little skimpy to process yet, maybe in 2 more weeks. I rent a plucker, so all 2w of the meat birds will prob be done the first week of Oct.

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