How much feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by rizq, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. rizq

    rizq Songster

    Oct 9, 2008
    I am having trouble determining how much our chickens SHOULD eat. I read in several places that they should have their pellets available to them at all times ... well, that just isn't possible. I swear they would eat a bag a day, and maybe more, if I would let them. The caged chickens don't eat an unreasonable amount. I've never managed to get enough feed to the banties to have any leftovers the next day. Almost never have anything left in the LF pen (mostly Brahmas). We have around 80 chooks (I think about 40 LF, the rest various banties) and 2 turkeys ... we go through about 3 bags a week and the birds still think they are starving to death. The chicks also seem to go through an unreal amount of starter, but I refuse to limit them since they are growing babies.

    The chickens are not fat, but do they really need to eat this much? Do I need to worm them? I haven't seen any evidence of parasites, but I have been told that we should not go through that much feed. Is there a website or something that will tell how much a chicken of each size should get each day? It would be so much easier if I could say this pen has so many banties so they get this many scoops and this pen has so many large fowl so they get this many scoops and not have to worry about over or under feeding. I am scared to feed them too little. It is tough to monitor their condition as they are difficult to catch, so I won't necessarily know if they are losing weight as I don't catch them any more than I have to.

    I know I am probably over thinking this somewhat, but I would really like to reduce the feed bill, if possible, but don't want to short the chickens on feed either.

    Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks [​IMG]
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Becki, I don't know what your climate is like but I'm guessing that it is fairly cold there right now. Any animal needs calories to stay warm. Shorting them on food wouldn't be a very good idea at this time of year. Usually, chickens eat to meet their calorie requirement and then stop.

    Let's just say that you have 50 standard chickens total. And, your 3 bags are 150 pounds of feed each week. That's 150 pounds divided between 50 chickens = 3 pounds for each chicken for a week. That is 3 pounds divided by 7 days = .43 pounds for each chicken for each day.

    I wouldn't be surprised if my Australorp & Barred Rock hens are eating more than this.

    You don't have 50 standards, you have 40 standards, 40 bantams, and 2 turkeys. I think the 2 turkeys and 40 bantams more than make up for 10 more standards.

    Your bantams are 1/4 the size of a standard (actually, you've got some really tiny breeds). Maybe you could expect them to eat only 1/4 of what a standard chicken eats. If so, 40 bantams = 10 standards.

    This webpage from the University of Missouri gives feed requirements for chickens - broilers and Leghorn-type layers. It also has information on turkeys. They are talking about birds in commercial housing - 70 degree temperature. The layers are a light breed and they are eating close to .25 pounds/chicken/day.

  3. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    I hate to be blunt but if you are going to raise them you have to feed them. Don't make them suffer by over thinking this. 1/2 lbs of feed a day is reasonable for each bird.
  4. rizq

    rizq Songster

    Oct 9, 2008
    Crooked stripe, being blunt is fine when bluntness is needed, but I did say that I don't want to short them. I certainly intend to feed them and don't intend to make them suffer in any way. That is why I asked before simply cutting their feed to what I would rather feed them. If you reread my post I think you'll find that I quite clearly stated that I want them to get enough feed to maintain good condition but don't want to feed excess. I'm not sure why you interpreted this to mean that I don't want to feed my birds or that I would let them be hungry and suffer.

    I asked this question because I have been told, both by some people on this board and by local chicken folk (who I tend not to listen to because they have some crazy ideas) that I am going through way more feed than I need to be. I was told (by more than one member of this board) that chickens would keep on eating even if they were no longer hungry, they would eat it because it is there. That brought me to my question of how much should each bird be getting.

    DigitS', our climate isn't too bad. Most days are in the 40s-60s, with some days warmer and of course, some days colder. Coldest overnight temp thus far was 19 ... brrr! I expect all the animals to eat more on the colder days. Thanks for the link to that site, I will definitely check it out and keep in mind that our standards are mostly heavy breed birds and that it is colder right now.

    If what they are eating isn't unreasonable, I really don't have a problem with that. Cheaper would be nice, but as I already said, I want to make sure they get enough to eat.

    Thanks for the input.
  5. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    Becki, If you took my response as a personal attack I am very sorry. To my knowledge there is no way for one to know how much a chickens needs to eat. I have never read here of a chicken eating just to be eating. I am sure you are right about seeing that for the fact there are so many different opinions on this great site. I spend a lot of time watching my flock and they spend more time running after each other, rolling in the dust and sun bathing. There are many variables here. How big they are, how active, how many eggs are laid and temps. There is a big problem with waste when feeding crumbles. I have never seen an obese chicken. Many people go out and get day olds knowing nothing about them. I also assumed that having 80 birds you would be well aware of the food requirements. I have found that free ranging drops there food consumption in half. I can't talk about meat birds because I know nothing about them. Good luck on your feed bill. John
  6. Catfishingpokey

    Catfishingpokey Songster

    Oct 5, 2008
    Albany, Tx
    I think that if you will put them on an all they need when they need it diet in the long run they will eat less. and it will be a lot easier on you as well. i keep my 17 delaware pullets and 1 roo on a self feeder where they can get all they want and it works great. i wouldnt consider doing it any other way. i also feed my coturnix quail the same way.
  7. rizq

    rizq Songster

    Oct 9, 2008
    Crooked stripe, I didn't take it as a personal attack at all, just wanted to re-emphasize my desire to do right by my chickens. I try not to take anything on forums personally because, unfortunately, it is difficult to read tone and intent.

    As far as knowing the feed requirements, I thought I did until several people told me I was going through too much feed. I like to keep myself open to the possibility that I might not be doing it right after all, lol [​IMG]

    I'm not really worried about the feed bill, I can afford it ... but if I am unnecessarily overspending on feed, I would be happy to reallocate those funds. It doesn't look like that is the way to go however (which was my initial instinct since they are maintaining condition just fine on their current ration). Feed bill will be reduced when we send the extra roosters to freezer camp, anyway.

    I wish we could free range, but a large pen is the best we can do due to close neighbors and predators (hawks, coyotes, loose dogs). Our pen is very large for the number of birds, but is still all dirt (has never had grass since we have lived here).

    Catfishingpokey, I have plans for a self feeder in the new coop, want it to hold at the very least 100 pounds of feed, maybe more (provided that I didn't find out I was way overfeeding). But, if it doesn't stop raining, new coop won't get built very fast. I am really starting to hate this rain.

    Thanks everyone for the input. I will carry on as I have been with no reduction in the feed and will probably increase to ensure they are satisfied ... as long as they don't get fat, lol.
  8. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    The people telling you that you shouldn't have to feed them so much probably have light breed birds that don't eat that much or they free range and fill up on bugs and other goodies. Listen to your flock instead -- they know what they need better than the guys at the co-op or TSC. [​IMG]

    I'm going to agree with the others who have recommended feeding them free choice rather than measured amounts. The fact that there isn't anything left from one day to the next and they eat as though they're starving suggests that perhaps they aren't getting as much as they need. Even though most of our temps have been relatively mild so far, the fact that one day it's in the 60s and the next it's in the 20s, then back again to the 60s, takes its toll on all of us.

    You didn't mention anything about keeping supplements available, but that's another thing that might impact how much they eat. If they can get their needs met through supplements, they may not need so much regular feed. In addition to oyster shell, I also have fish meal, kelp meal and flax seed available 24/7. If the pellets they get don't meet all their needs, they can get more nutrients from the supplements, rather than gorging on more pellets.
  9. Sissy

    Sissy Songster

    Jul 18, 2007
    Sevier county, Tn.
    Everyone gains a little during the holidays.
    LOL they are enjoying your generous dining table.
  10. rizq

    rizq Songster

    Oct 9, 2008
    Even on those rare occasions when there is feed left over I get mobbed at the gate. I always have to throw a scoop into the run to get the chooks away from the gate so I can get in without them getting out. I figure it is just something new. Fresh feed must be very exciting, indeed. But I will try to increase to the point that there is just a bit leftover each day to be sure they are satisfied.

    Where do you get your supplements? The only oyster shell I have been able to find is in those expensive, tiny bags. I buy it for my caged banties along with grit, but there is no way I could afford to feed the whole flock with that stuff. I have heard tell of 50 pound bags of oyster shell, but have not been able to locate any. Also, with your other supplements, do you get these at your feed store also? I will have to ask about them on my next visit (which will be Thursday).

    Also, another question on the supplements ... do you mix them together, or have a separate container of each and just allow them to determine what they need?

    As far as the people at co-op and TSC, I don't even ask them, lol. Most of our co-op employees are rude anyway. In saying the local people I was actually referring to one in particular who my papaw thinks is a chicken god. He is about 10,000 years old, has hundreds of birds in less-than-ideal conditions, and has had chickens for decades ... thus, what he says is the chicken law. Including using bleach to worm your flock. Not me, thanks. I'll spend the money for the real wormer if I need it and know that the worms are taken care of without undo harm to my poor birdies.

    And actually, truth be told, most of the birds I care for (as well as most of the dogs) are my Dad's and my Mom always complains about the feed bill. She is really wanting to cut back so I offered to buy another bag a week so we can feed the birds properly. If he didn't have 30 roosters the feed bill would be a lot less, lol.

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