How much to Feed if I am free Ranging

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by psycoforsilkies, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. psycoforsilkies

    psycoforsilkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2011
    East central Texas
    Ok I have 34 laying hens, and they have a quarter acre area they are enclosed in when I am not home which is very infrequent. We have an additional back 2 acres of well may as well call un fenced pasture.
    1.We are wondering how much feed should we feed them if we are free ranging them all day.
    2.We are in the process of fencing this area just in case of the stray dog.
    3.Is this area big enough for them, so that do not kill off everything
    4 should I continue to broadcast seed the 2 acres and keep it watered too?

    We have found a forage blend for chickens to seed with
    any help is appreciated
  2. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2011
    Rison, Arkansas
    The quick and easy way: Do not feed all day before roost.
    In the evening time, an hour before they roost, put out a large pan of weighed food for them to consume until they ignore the pan. Then take an re-weigh what is left over and see how much they ate. After 3-4 days you should get an average of feed consumed. You should feed around that much feed each day. During the wintertime when bugs and grass are gone, you will need to increase the feed. A good quality feed is consumed less and healthier for your birds than cheap feed.

    The look at how fat or how skinny they are method.

    This method is used by many, although i do not recommend it.
    Increase or decrease food for 3-4 weeks until they look good.

    Average weight of the breed method ( I prefer this method )

    For fully grown birds only. I discovered the correct amount of feed for the time of year, by weighing a few of each breed and forming an average weight. I bought a 40 pound postal scale and read up on what each breed should weigh. Then i either increased or decreased to food according to the average weight of the breed. It may take a few weeks to make a difference.

    If you do a search here on byc, i think others have posted a "standard feed weight for each pound of bird" somewhere.

    I hope this helps.
  3. psycoforsilkies

    psycoforsilkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2011
    East central Texas
    Thanks, they are all pretty fat and healthy girls we are just looking at how happy they are pecking around in the yard, They are eating an organic, non gmo,non soy layer feed right now along with garden scraps everyday. will try the weighing food for them.
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I use the quick and easy way...and adjust as the birds show their needs. If they eat it all in that one meal, I might add more next time to see how much extra they may need to be content. Ideally, I like to have them eat their fill each evening with a small amount left over for a very light appetizer in the morning before they set out to forage.

    This saves feed in two, they will forage better if they are hungry, thus eating more forage than they would if fed in the morning and foraging on a full belly. Two, only placing enough food out for a meal and a snack won't leave unlimited feed out for rodent predation on your feeds. Rodents are most active at night, so no one really sees how much they lose in feed when they leave their continuous feeders out all night.

    In the winter I feed in the morning and just enough that they will clean up in that day with none left in the feeder at bedtime...rodents are really needing the feed during winter months and will really hit that feeder hard if you leave any behind each night. This also insures the birds get enough feed when foraging is slim-to-none.
  5. bird boy

    bird boy Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 1, 2012
    I have about the same set up as you do. 30 or so chickens and about 1/4 acre of pasture they free range on. I keep their feeders full of layers pellets and scratch grains in the hen house year round. In the summer they spend most of their time eating in the pasture and feed consumption goes way down. In the winter when the grasses go dormant the feed consumption goes back up. The chickens stay very healthy year round. My neighbor who has the same set up quit feeding his chickens much when he free ranged them two summers ago and they ate every bit of vegetation in his pasture. Now he has nothing but rock in his pasture and all his chickens have to eat is commercial feed. I reseeded with an annual rye grass this spring that came up and chickens just love it. I will overseed with bermuda grass in a couple of weeks and they will have a good hot weather grass to pasture on as well. Happy chickens, healthy chickens and lots of eggs.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by