How much feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Secretlyspotted, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I am totally new to the whole chicken thing- we started our flock one week ago yesterday! We have two hens (a RSL and an Easter Egger) and four pullets (a silke, a cochin, an orphington, and a maran). I have really tried to do all sorts of research, but I don't know how much feed they should be eating. They are free ranging during the day. I usually feed them twice- probably about 16 oz of layer crumbles and another meal of treats. The RSL is laying everyday but I've only gotten two eggs from the EE in a week (she is young and she could be hiding them somewhere). Anyway, is this enough food? I've been just putting it on the ground or in a pie tin- do I need a feeder?
    Another question- they are in a large coop at night. They do not have access to food or water from around 8pm to 8am when I let them out again. Do I need to at least put water in the coop?
    Please forgive me if these are silly questions! I am really obsessive about making sure that any animal we bring into our family is well cared for (you should see the awesome tank my one beta fish live in LOL), and I want to do this chicken thing right!
     
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    You are probably giving them enough food. However, I suggest getting a feeder and giving them food free-choice. This will allow them to get as much food as they need, and will cut down on the work you're doing. I free-feed my chickens as much as they want. Chickens should ideally have water available at all times, though if you haven't noticed any ill effects so far, it is probably fine.
     
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2 on the feeder. Putting it on the ground wastes a lot and they probably scratch a lot out of the pie pan. I'm short on feeders and don't want to spend lots of my hard earned $$$ on any so I feed some of my birds out of an old skillet. If you dump water on the crumbles the birds don't bill it out as bad either.
    They're not going to thirst to death 8pm-8am. They don't get up in the middle of the night to get a drink anyway.
     
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think if you are allowing your chickens to free range that you do not want to provide feed free-choice, meaning available 24 hours a day. You want the chickens to be motivated to go out and forage for food, and this will reduce the amount of feed they eat and you have to buy. So, I would just provide feed in the evening when you want the chickens to come back to the coop. In the mornings the chickens will be motivated to get out and hunt for food.

    The average hen eats about 4 ounces of feed per day. If they are foraging for food, you would not need to provide that much food per hen. I would suggest 2 ounces of feed per hen and monitor how quickly they eat the feed. If the chickens take their time eating the feed, you know they are getting enough to eat. You can adjust the amount of feed you provide based on your observation.

    You can use pellets, so if they get thrown on the ground the chickens will still find the pellets and eat them. Feed is not wasted this way.

    The treats aren't needed, but it is fun to watch the chickens run for mealworms and things like that. I would suggest using treats lightly.

    You can put a pan of water in the coop at night, if you like. But it is not needed.

    By the way, welcome to Backyard Chickens.
     
  5. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the helpful answers!! I think I'm going to bug my husband to make two of the feeders I saw pictures of here on BYC. PVC pipes with a y-joint on the bottom. Looks easy enough. And I think I'll stop worrying about water at night. They seem to be doing fine without it! I just wanted to make sure that wasn't some sort of "chicken abuse" scenario. And that little bit of info about the average hen eating 4 oz a day is super helpful! That way I have some guide to work from.
    The "treats" we have been feeding have mostly been the food scraps left over from our meals. Is that okay? I like the idea of not wasting things like strawberry tops and cheerios my kids didn't eat!
     
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Be advised that the average chicken will eat anything that doesn't eat it first.
     
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Saturday I threw some chicken bones out to the cats. The chickens snatched them away from the cats and hauled butt with them and picked them clean.
    Another time I shot a possum in the run one night and by the time I got around to burying it the next day they had ate half of it. Now that was poetic justice!
     
  8. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have two four month old kittens that are pretty tough (we got them from a feral cat colony when they were about 5 weeks old). When we first brought home the chicken Fido (the male kitty) decided that Breakfast (the hen) looked yummy. Breakfast quickly turned on him and taught him who was boss! It was hilarious. Now the kittens stay out of the chicken pen!

    And thanks everyone for the advice! We are only one week in, but so far this chicken adventure has been fabulous!
     
  9. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are going to use a feeder, you just put the feed in the feeder and the chickens will eat what they need. My suggestion was just if you want the chickens to get more food when they free range. If you aren't concerned about the feed bill, leave feed out all the time.

    Yes, chickens will eat almost anything, as was mentioned. It's good for them to have a variety of things.
     
  10. jjsasfai

    jjsasfai Out Of The Brooder

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    We give ours scraps as well. Helpful with a two year old thats picky! Theres an awesome treat chart on here somewhere. I recommend giving it a look.
     

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