Portion Feeding vs Free Feeding

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jenkassai, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. jenkassai

    jenkassai Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 28, 2011
    Hi all!

    I've been reading that not everyone free feeds their hens. I am curious about this, as I don't want my girls to get fat. I have 9 LF hens and 1 bantam rooster. They are on flock raiser right now as their ages range from five months to four months and none are laying yet. I have been free feeding, but am wondering if I should switch to portioned feeding. How do you know how much food to put down and how long do you leave it down for? With winter coming, this seems like one way to help control rodents who might find a free meal. I also am interested in getting them outside for some outside time; they just moved in to their coop and LOVE it, and don't seem to want to spend as much time outside! Of course that could have something to do with all the rain and mud we have lately! I think they are grateful for a dry, mud free space to hang out in [​IMG]

  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    I free-feed my pullets & cockerels up until they get to laying age. Technically, I guess I still free-feed the hens & roos, but in a more controlled manner. I put down as much as they will finish from daylight to early evening & take up what's left. I do that for 2 reasons--cut down on food theives (rats/mice) but thankfully I havent noticed any & to keep them from wasting the expensive feed! They also free range in the afternoons, so if I have to work, they get their treats before I go to work to get them back in the coop/run.
  3. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Chicks up to10 to 12 weeks medicated chick starter feed
    Juveniles from 12 weeks to beginning to lay 16% developer feed
    Hens after they begin to show signs like red faces, crops and squatting acting like they are Layer feed. Lay around and in a small bowl some crushed oyster shells
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  4. Josiah Woodfield

    Josiah Woodfield Out Of The Brooder

    May 24, 2011
    Chestertown, MD
    I always free feed my birds, it saves time and never seems to cause health problems after 15 yrs....
  5. simplynewt

    simplynewt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    My Coop
    I have been free feeding my Dom pullets. Seems there is alot of it going on the ground but dont know how I could amend that. Would be interested in hearing what others have to say concerning this topic.

    Thanks for posting it.
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I don't know about either free feeding or portion rations as being the answer to weight control. Some birds just love feed and like people, some are a bit pre-disposed to weight gain, lack of activity and simply are hogs at the feeding trough. I dunno.

    I portion/ration feed for two reasons. One is a zero waste policy and the other is likened unto it. Rodents. We have both ground squirrels and mice in unbelievable numbers and it has little to do with us keeping chickens, although I'm sure we aggravate the problems.

    So, one starts with a logical amount. 4 ounces per bird, per day is often bantered about as a norm. Ok, let's take that. 12 large fowl birds in a pen. That is approximately 3 lbs of feed per day. So, you begin the day with 2.5 lbs of feed being offered. You'd expect to find the feeders emptied by 3 pm. If they are, feed another pound of feed. If the feeders are emptied at roosting time, you've not overfed. If the next day you bump that amount up and find feed still left at roosting time, you cut back a bit.

    Yes, it trial and error, but you can, through experience, find the precise amount whereby the birds get all they want during the day, but nothing is left for the nocturnal critters. What is harder to figure is how rich your range is. That comes through experience as well. Our range is virtually sterile 8 months of the year. During May-September, it can provide up to 25%-35% of the feed intake. The north woods is not a particularly fertile grazing land.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  7. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 12, 2009
    The only time my feed pan is empty is in the winter. During the warm weather, they don't eat as much feed, the free range a lot. I feed them at 5 am and remove it, when they roost.

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