How much to feed free range hens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by crackers, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. crackers

    crackers New Egg

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    Our 7 hens are free ranging every day in a wooded and semi-grassed area with lots of bugs and so on available. We also feed them layer pellets. However, in recent months, 3 of them (Maran cross Rhode Island Red) have gone broody several times and we wonder if we are feeding them too much? I read somewhere that 30-40g pellets per bird were about right. Does anyone know?
     
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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  3. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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  4. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    [​IMG] Usually broody hens have to be forced off the nest to eat - they lose weight, not gain any.
     
  5. Sophia5

    Sophia5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My hens go broody a lot in summer.
    I think you should let them have access to their food all the time (they will only take as much as they need).
     
  6. Mary Poopins

    Mary Poopins Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2013
    Hello,
    Your title is misleading.

    I was expecting a discussion on supplementing free ranged chickens with feed, not about them being broody.

    Whatever.
    Good luck on un-broodifying your girls.

    ~Mary
     
  7. crackers

    crackers New Egg

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    May 5, 2012
    Sorry for confusion. I am principally interested in how much I should be feeding my free range hens. The summer broodiness was a side issue, only included as I had heard that hens who become over weight tend to go broody more easily. So should I be feeding my free ranger girls pellets and if so, how much per bird? There are 7 of them, who have a huge area (about 1.5 acres) of mixed woodland and rough grass* to forage on and they currently get about 800g of pellets every day, so just over 100g each. Is this too much? Sometimes, they don't finish it all but sometimes they do. They certainly are not fat but feel fairly solid when picked up, but then again, with so much ground to cover, they are as fit as fiddles! Any thoughts on how much feed?

    (*this is the Scottish Highlands so it's dry, mixed grass not lush green stuff, and mixed native trees with mixed undergrowth)
     
  8. Mary Poopins

    Mary Poopins Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2013
    Hello Crackers,

    I am sorry , I hope I didn’t offend!
    After re-reading my comment, I see how it was very rude!

    I am sorry I came across this way!

    Ideally for the birds to be properly free-ranged you should be feeding them no supplemental feed....except treats, but like term organic, the lines are very blurred.
    The fact that you have the land and you are allowing your birds to range on it, even as a supplement to commercial feed, is in itself a much better option to 100% commercial feed.

    Any “acres per chicken” magic number that people will throw out at you will be useless unless they also live in the Scottish Highlands.
    I would watch the flock. Monitor the feed supplement you are giving and then evaluate how you can offset this by either seeding some of the acreage, raising mealworms, or sprouting whole grains as feed.

    I wish you the best!!!
    ~Mary
     
  9. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Most of us who pasture or free range put out some feed. After all there are times when there are no bugs. The system you are using, putting out about what they eat in a day, is as good as any. The land needed for a chicken can vary widely. Even your neighbor across the road can have a difference in the quality of range and get a different carrying capacity. You just have to monitor you birds and adjust. The amount of feed a standard chicken needs is .25 to .33 pounds of feed or 113 to151 grams. I will also add that the breed of chicken and its lineage also plays a role in how well they forage so that plays a role in how much land they will use.
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I like watch foraging behavior (ranging distance) and crop fill at night. They are indicators that can be informative relatively quickly but should be backed up by watching weight. With free-ranging birds I do not seem able to impact a given hens propensity to become broody.
     

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