How much to feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by stacibful, May 20, 2016.

  1. stacibful

    stacibful Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2015
    I've had my hens for over a year and recently added 11 more chicks to the flock. I've been feeding the older hens layer feed and then the babies are getting medicated chick starter. My grandmother who has raised chickens and farm animals all her life thinks I might be giving them too much feed because a bag of feed lasts us exactly 2 weeks. I fill up their food dish (medium sized metal pan) twice a day morning and evening with about 6-8 cups of feed. My husband will just throw cups of food in on the ground sometimes. The babies I just fill up their little bowls twice a day as well. They always act like I starve them [​IMG]. They do get to free range when I'm home. I don't feel comfortable letting them free range when I'm gone all day. Too many chances of them getting hit my a car of killed by a predator. They get treats too like lettuce, corn, fruit, leftovers. Any suggestions? How much feed do you give your chickens?
     
  2. danielkbrantley

    danielkbrantley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I keep their feed full and let them eat as they wish. They get scraps throughout the day and free range when I'm home and able to supervise. (They get in the neighbors' yards and I feel bad...even if the neighbors have never said anything. Don't want them stepping in chicken poop when they don't have chickens.) I'm not sure why, but mine don't eat all day every day. Don't know if I came out fortunate, but I've never felt mine eat too much.
     
  3. stacibful

    stacibful Out Of The Brooder

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    All these little buttmunchers want is to eat [​IMG]everytime they here the backdoor open they come a running expecting me to have treats for them.
     
    barred2rock likes this.
  4. danielkbrantley

    danielkbrantley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hahaha...those buttmunchers! And maybe mine don't do that because I've set the standard low. They don't expect much from me, so they're not disappointed. Hahaha...
     
  5. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    It takes a lot of energy to produce eggs. Those hens should have access to feed all day long. If their feeder is getting completely empty, you may need to add another feeder.
    It also takes a lot of energy to support the growth rate of chicks. They should never be without feed.
    Treats should be limited to no more than 10% of their total daily intake.
     
  6. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Junebuggena, should they still have a constant access to feed even if they are (semi)free range? I guess "pastured" would be a more appropriate term. I have 5 5-month old pullets in a 15' x 30' run that is still full of grass. They munch on that plus bugs all day long and get a treat of my garden excess and scratch daily. Yet by 3:00 pm their quart of layer feed is gone, and like Stacibful said they act like they are starving. They are very healthy looking and have full crops every evening. Should I give them more feed or are they just gluttonous like horses?
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Chickens will not over-consume feed. They should have access to it all day long. Also, keep scratch and veggies to a minimum when feeding layer feed. You do not want to have to deal with protein deficiency behaviors like egg eating and feather picking. I suggest switching to a higher protein feed for people who like to give treats and free range.
     
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  8. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    That's a really good question - how much should chickens eat?

    Consider some factors.
    1. Chicks do go through a growth spurt when all that they want to do is eat 24/7 - if your new chicks are at the juvenile age -- it is really good for them to munch constantly
    2. Sometimes a lot of feed gets 'wasted' (falling on the ground and getting scratched in for example) or stolen - (wild birds, other wild-life) -- Keep an eye on their dishes and see if anyother critter is helping themselves.
    3. Quality of feed. Sometimes I think feed companies use fillers in their sacks of feed -- and the quality isn't that good. Sometimes the cheapest feed isn't worth it. -- check the protein. Some layer feeds have 18% protein and some have 16% - seems like a chicken would need to eat MORE of the lower protein feed. Same with chick feed. Some chick starters are 18% protein and some are 20% - for example, here in TX at my feedstore Lone Star feeds for chicks are 20% protein.
    4. For your older hens, make sure that they are wormed.

    Rule of thumb - This is from Gail Damerow's book "Storey's guide to Raising Chickens" - which I highly recommend. It is like the chicken-keepers guide book IMO:

    • each mature Bantam - about 1/2 pound per week
    • each mature light breed - about 2 pounds per week
    • each mature midweight dual-purpose - about 3 pounds per week
    • each mature heavy-breed chicken - about 4 pounds per week
    • each meat bird = about 10# total feed to reach mature butchering age
    p.110

    As she states, and as common sense would dictate, there are variables such as the weather, your particular breed, the particular feed you are giving them...etc.etc.etc.

    Not sure your breed, or other factors, but if you buy a 40# bag for 11 chicks -- seems that doing the math it would be about 1.8# per chick per week. Does that make sense. If you are in the ballpark - of the guidelines that are suggested, then everything would be just about right.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    OK, resurrecting an old thread here (rather than starting a new one on the same subject)

    I never really weighed how much I fed my chooks, instead I poured out enough to fill their feeder, then slowly reduced that amount until there was just a little left after 24 hours. This was with dry feed (I use Purina Flock Raiser, oyster shell on the side). When I started fermenting it I began with the same amount per chicken per day of dry and added water to it. Well now that it is being fermented they are no longer taking 24 hours to eat it, but finish off the entire trough before noon.

    When I bought my last bag of feed I noted how long it took to go through the 50# bag - 30 days. Doing the arithmetic I came up with 2 2/3 ounces per bird per day. From the post above this is only half of what they should be getting (I have 10 medium size layers, EE's mostly)! Yet when they were able to eat as much as they wanted this is what they chose. And being fermented it should be even less.

    Should I up the amount?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  10. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't ferment, but my hens eat half as much feed during the summer. They use feed to keep warm in winter. So I would definitely up their allowance when it starts cooling down. And double it during winter, and adjust as needed. GC
     

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