Modifying Chicken Feed(ing) Due to Naturally Rich Environment?

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Maeschak

Songster
Mar 29, 2016
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Maryland, USA
Sorry for the weird title, Im just not sure how to say it...

Does anyone modify how they feed their chickens based on the environment the chickens live in?

My DP flock are pastured along-side my two freezer beef Holsteins. The chickens free-range all day on about 60 acres. The area is mostly ruminant grazing land, yard grasses, crop land (field corn and hay grasses), a stream, fence-row trees, bushes, etc. Long story short, it is a very nutrient rich environment... particularly when you see that the cows love to drop their seed-laden paddies (which are 18% protein BTW!) all around the coop.

I have been experimenting with reducing the volume of feed I leave out for the chickens (but i keep the protein and mineral levels closer to normal bc I assumed those would be harder for them to forage) and it seems to be working well- the chickens are still leaving a little bit of food in the bowls but it is MUCH less feed than before and I do see them foraging much more (even when there is still food in their bowls). By VOLUME, the chickens are getting about 1/3 of the suggested amount for adult chickens (but again, the protein and mineral levels are the same as if I fed full VOLUME).

Anyway, does anyone have any experience/tips for feeding chickens that live in an area where 'food' is basically laying all over the place? Or do folks usually just feed the recommended amount to avoid any risks of reduced conditioning?

Thanks for any tips or info!
 
Under such conditions I used to feed twice a day as much as they would clean up in a fifteen or twenty minute period. Understand that as winter approaches that quantity will gradually increase.

Edited to add that this was for mature birds. Growing birds were fed either ad lib or several times a day.
 
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Under such conditions I used to feed twice a day as much as they would clean up in a fifteen or twenty minute period. Understand that as winter approaches that quantity will gradually increase.
Great idea- I would get a real-time snapshot of what they actually need under the current environmental conditions.
I guess I never thought of that because I free feed (set it and forget it for the day!)
 

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