not feeding your chickens. anyone?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cupman, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. cupman

    cupman Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    Portland, OR
    So my friend has chickens, only about 7 of them I'd say, including one rooster. Well, he has 18.5 acres of land and it's mostly tilled dirt and planted trees. He owns a mini nursery as a side job. Well, I was over the other day and was looking at his chickens and I asked him, where is their feeder at? Apparently he just doesn't feed them, they are able to find food on their own, he says he hasn't given them chicken feed in over a year. He also doesn't have a real coop for them, he has high walls on his barn and the chickens are smart enough to fly over the walls at night so they are mostly secure. He does lose chickens now and again, but it's maybe 2 a year at the most.

    Does anyone else do this kind of thing with their chickens? His seem healthy, good layers, mean nasty rooster though. It just seems cool they can do it on their own but I'm afraid if I tried this with my birds they would be so used to a feeder they'd starve.

  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I wonder how his egg production is doing? My flock eats alot while free ranging but during the winter they would probably starve to death without supplemental feeding. I want eggs so I'm gonna keep on feeding mine.
  3. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    During the growing season we only feed when we have a batch growing out for meat. Egg production is the same year-round. The key is knowing whether or not your property offers the abundance and diversity needed.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Theoretically possible, IF, if the area is rich enough in plants, hay, grasses, bugs and seeds. Here? In northern MI? They'd starve, frankly.
    Agree with above post. Impossible to maximize egg production when 100% of their calories are from ranging. (Here) A good foraging hen, might be able to have enough excess calories, calcium and protein to produce 120 eggs per year. Maybe. My hens lay 300 eggs per year. That level of laying requires good feed. To each his own.

    edited to clear things up, to clarify, that our area's range is very poor.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011

  5. There was a time when that would have been fairly common, chickens were fed scraps and perhaps corn...

    However if you notice it's taking 18 acres to feed 7 chickens. For most of us that's not practical... Also, feeding chickens prepared feed keeps egg production up, which for me at least, is one of the big reasons I keep them.

    I also have some concerns about what animal welfare would have to say about not feeding chickens. I mean yes they are eating, but animal welfare laws make it plain that we as owners MUST provide food for them. I'd hate to go to court to explain that my chickens forage for their own food.
  6. kerrysmommy

    kerrysmommy Songster

    Mar 15, 2010
    My house :]
    not feeding the chickens?! how many eggs does he get a day? this is so outrages i could not picture not feeding my chickens everyday including treats!
  7. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    Fred's Hens :

    A good foraging hen, might be able to have enough excess calories, calcium and protein to produce 120 eggs per year. Maybe.

    Where did you get this "statistic"?​

  8. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well we still feed ours, but they also free range. I have noticed that in the first few days after a good rain when bugs are plentiful, we don't have to feed as much.

    Ours are so spoiled, though, that if I took away the feeders, they'd probably starve (though if we opened the fences, I'm sure they'd find plenty to eat.... but also plenty that would eat THEM). This morning, since it was chilly, they got leftover white rice from last night, plus I made them some hot corn grits & flaxseed and mixed it in with the rice.... like I said, totally spoiled.
  9. TN_BIRD

    TN_BIRD Chirping

    Mar 15, 2011
    Quote:Sounds like they are doing fine.

    I'm no lawyer, but it sounds like he is providing food for them (18 acres worth).

    Take him to court? Really? Oh brother.

  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    My parents raised chickens this way. The only time they supplemented food was when the ground was snow-covered or frozen. Broodies raised the chicks and taught them to forage. How well they do obviously depends on the quality of forage available.

    We had a lot more than 7 chickens. We also had a lot more than 18 acres, but they did not use very much of it at all. Anyone that has been there would know better than to think that the chickens would wander anywhere near that far from their coop. I very much doubt ours ever used more than 3 or 4 acres for forage.

    Which do you consider more efficient, buying all the food and getting 300 eggs a year per hen or buying none of the food and getting 120 eggs a year per hen? Or whatever the numbers actually are.

    Animal cruelty? During the summer, the horses and cows had to find their own grass! Talk about cruelty!!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by