Opinions on free choice feeding or daily measured feedings....

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Jeffross1968, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Our flock is growing. By July, we'll have 35ish full sized birds that will include maybe 2 or 3 roos. They free range from around 9am until they put themselves away at night. We're in the mountains, on an acre, though they utilize more than just our land (lots of empty lots around). I read about people just doing measured feedings, especially when a flock is free ranged, but I've always kept the feed free choice. As our flock has grown from just a few birds, obviously feed costs are going up.

    I'd like to hear opinions on both methods from those of you who free range their chickens. Things are obviously different in the winter around here than in the summer, so I'd be happy to hear about both periods.

    Also, because we have a mixed age flock, we're feeding starter/grower and free choice oyster shell. They lay like crazy, but want to make sure that it's acceptable to feed like this and not layer (though I have no idea how I'd keep them apart).
     
  2. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2010
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    I free range and free feed. They gobble up feed when I first let them out of the coop because they're hungry, and need to fill up quickly. The rest of the day, they prefer what they can free range, though they do come back to the feed from time to time. I worry that cutting back their feed would mean cutting back their egg production.

    My winters are mild. There is always grass, but fewer bugs in the winter.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  3. Domestic_goddess

    Domestic_goddess Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Utah
    How old our your chickens and are they all laying now? I start mine on layer feed around 5-6 months..some wait until they see thier first egg. I free range, we have an acre as well. I have 30+ chickens now and they seem to leave our property alot, so I try to keep them a little more contained now. Our coop is actually a barn and they have a huge run. But I only feed my chickens once a day. We mix our feed with Layer pellets and grain, Mine are healthy and lay alot. I actually sell my eggs. But IMO I just can't afford to have them free choice feed, with the feed prices the way they are. They'll eat you out of house and home.
     
  4. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    That sounds exactly like our situation. I've had green grass (though not growing) all winter, but less bugs. The eat like crazy in the morning, and the visit the feed on and off all day during free ranging. But I wonder if it's required all day long. I've contemplated removing the feed during the middle 5 hours of the day but I'm also afraid to lose production, and it's the reason I asked the question initially. Hrm...
     
  5. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    I have everything from 14 month olds to 2 month olds in the main coop, and everything in between. I don't want to deprive them into not laying, but it would be nice to cut down on feed. I guess I'm wondering if they are eating it so much because they need it, or because it's there.
     
  6. Domestic_goddess

    Domestic_goddess Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 26, 2009
    Utah

    Mine are not deprived in any way, they are very healthy! If you feed them once in the morning then let them free range, they will be completely fine! Mine lay like crazy, I get atleast 2 dozen a day if not a bit more then that.
     
  7. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Maybe I'll start trying that then. Ours are laying great too and that's why I was worried about doing anything different. It would be nice to cut down on costs though...
     
  8. chicken curious

    chicken curious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    any update?

    I have been trying to switch to feeding once or twice a day versus having out a huge feeder-full (they free-range during the day), but I feel like there are a few chickens who hog the feeder forever and they might not all be getting enough. I get swarmed when I go out with food...does that mean that they are truly hungry or just really bored and excited? FYI I have (15) 9 wk olds and they are mostly on deep leaf litter and not grass in my yard.
     

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