How often can I feed my chickens table scraps/treats?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by PhDtoFarm, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. PhDtoFarm

    PhDtoFarm In the Brooder

    Aug 13, 2013
    I recently got a flock of 12 chickens and set up a table-scraps donation bin at work and with friends. There is always grower feed available (they are about 4 months and haven't started laying yet). I sort through the food scraps that I get and discard (compost) whatever is moldy, beyond redemption, or toxic.

    I usually get a few things every day, and it amounts to about 1-5 pounds of fruit, vegetables, and grains (corn, wheat, or oat). Should I just give everything to the chickens as I get it, or should I be allocating the scraps out in a more controlled way? It's definitely fruit-heavy (grapes and watermelons, given the time of year...), but I don't know if I should be overly-worried about it. Their poops seem pretty normal still, too.

    Do you regulate the amount of fruit/vegetables/grains your chickens get? If so, how much do you feed per chicken per day? Are these all considered treats?

    Also, how often do you feed your chickens mealworms? I've seen advice saying anything from "every day" to "sparingly" so... I'm not too sure which to go with.

    Thanks guys :D
    rjohns39 likes this.
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The thing to consider with scraps is the nutritional content. Fruits and veggies are fine, but in quantity they will in effect reduce the protein content of their diet, for example.
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  3. PhDtoFarm

    PhDtoFarm In the Brooder

    Aug 13, 2013
    I guess I'm just wondering how much is too much?
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  4. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    It's too much when they reduce their laying, they get fat or they don't mature properly.

    2-3# is probably about right for now. The higher moisture content of fruits and vegetables will help in the heat. You can always freeze the excess for later. At 4 months I'd be finishing up the open bag of feed and switching them over to layer. You might get lucky and get your first egg in 1-2 weeks.
    rjohns39 likes this.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I feed mine whatever I have. I figure they're omnivores, they're designed to have a varying diet, just like we are. Yesterday my flock got a mid sized watermelon, a couple baseball-bat zucchini, some swiss chard leaves to big folks keep asking me if it's rhubarb, some huge gnarly yellow crookneck and tomato trimmings. It was a produce heavy day for sure! But you know, some days I eat way more fruit/veggies, some days more meat, some days I eat almost nothing but grains. It all balances out. I've never fallen for the idea that milled "feed" is the end all for chickens and that's where they should get most of their nutrition. Being a nurse, I liken that to telling a healthy person they should get most of their nutrition from Ensure [​IMG]. I mean, it's balanced and has all the nutrition a person needs, right?
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  6. Veer67

    Veer67 Songster

    x2 [​IMG]
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  7. PhDtoFarm

    PhDtoFarm In the Brooder

    Aug 13, 2013
    Ok, sounds like I will just keep doing what I've been doing but keep an eye on protein levels :) Thanks!
    rjohns39 likes this.
  8. SoCalChickie

    SoCalChickie In the Brooder

    Aug 1, 2013
    I give mine all our veggie scraps. They love it and they still eat their regular food too. Now that some of the plants in my garden have seen better days, I let them forage for worms. Some times I help by shoveling up the deep dirt to get to the good stuff...seriously spoiled chickens!
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  9. Ian Daft

    Ian Daft Hatching

    Jul 18, 2017
    I need to find out if i am over feeding my hens i have four of them, and i cut up my veggies for them in the morning and after noon,
    rjohns39 likes this.
  10. rjohns39

    rjohns39 Addict

    Aug 20, 2015
    Smith County, TN
    There are a lot of complexities in feed today. Some feeds are formulated for birds that don't have access to outside inputs, while others consider minimal and other consider free range. Also of consideration is breed (production vice heritage).

    Most of the feeds we deal with have a vitamin pack (3-5%), minerals, probiotics, grains and animal protein in a finely tuned balance for the conditions in which the bird is being fed. That said, the common recommendation is to limit treats to no more than 10% of total diet. In addition, some grains have upper limits as they cause secondary issues preventing proper uptake of nutrition. Oats & Barley should not be more than 15% by volume of the total ration/diet.

    When you provide additional scraps, on one hand you dilute the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein in your prepared ration, but the very foods you're providing have all these things as well. So I would suggest that if you do exceed the 10% treat rule, watch them closely for health, weight loss/gain, etc and judge it as you go.

    When the settlers moved west, growing grains was a very labor intensive process so the only grains chickens got were the fines left behind after processing. They existed on what they could forage and table scraps. As a result, their egg production was no where near what we see today and they're winter rest cycle was longer. Yet books from the period suggest the birds were quite happy and healthy. Another thing to consider is back then they did not have the toxins we have today and their pastures were forages as nature meant them to be vice what humans like.

    If it were me, I'd likely keep them on their balanced ration and stick closely to the 10% rule. Hope this helps.

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