Should I leave feed to my chickens all day?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by southerngirlkjc, Aug 30, 2014.

  1. southerngirlkjc

    southerngirlkjc In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2014
    I need a little help. I have 11 chickens that are 5 months old and I believe most if not all are laying now. (6 red sex links/5 barred rocks) My question is how much to feed them? We use to keep food to them all the time but were told they will eat everything you give to them and therefore waste the food and in turn throw away money. I then found out they need about 4oz per chicken, so we would fill the feeder based on that. It just seems they eat it up so fast and have nothing much else the rest of the day. They are not free range but will get some corn and sometimes bread as a treat. I don't want to starve them but I don't want to waste my money either. Chicken experts, help me out please. Thanks in advance!
  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    I'd just leave the feed out at all times. That is what I, and most people, do. Free feeding results in less work and fewer feeder refills, and the birds can eat as much as they need. 4oz of feed is an average amount needed by a chicken, but that can vary with each bird. If all the birds have access to as much/little feed as they think they need, you'll never have to worry about whether they're getting enough to eat.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    X 2.

    I am not understanding the assertion regarding waste in the OP, if they are consuming the feed, it is not being wasted. Feed "waste" is when it is kicked out of the feeder, tossed on the ground and not eaten.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
  4. southerngirlkjc

    southerngirlkjc In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2014
    Great, thanks!
  5. oesdog

    oesdog Crowing

    Jun 7, 2010
    We always leave feed out all day long! In fact in our coop I have two feeders. We have 7 hens. 4 are older and they are a little slower to get the feed the other three tend to bully so we have two feeders which hang at different ends of the run. This way all the birds get to feed and no one is left without. I put one scoop of feed per two hens... Split between the feeders this is usually enough as they often leave the feeders with feed still in SO NO THEY DON'T EAT EVERYTHING YOU PUT OUT! Our girls feed is subsadised with treats. I give them Oats, bread soaked in water or veg oil. ( this helps their crops) They have tomatoes which they love to chase, fruits of which they really like strewberries and sultanas. We also give corgette, Cabbage, lettice, Cucumber. Anything from the veg and fruit patches that look a little over or eaten! This time of year we usually start letting them into the garden - They eat what is left in the bays which helps us to clear for next season! We also use all of their poo and dirty bedding to fertalize our veg and fruit crop so nothing is ever waisted. Sometimes they even get their own eggs back only we cook them first as this gives them plenty of protien. Nothing is ever waisted here! I have two old girls that have not laid eggs in ages but they are great little cuddlers and the kids and disabled love them so they still earn a place and do a job and they still poo! So I still get fertalizer even if I don;t get the eggs I once did from them. Never leave your girls without feed or water - it really is not good for them.

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
    Brandi_m_f likes this.
  6. southerngirlkjc

    southerngirlkjc In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2014
    I understand your point and my reasoning came from something I read online, but for the life of me I can't find it right now. LoL, I do realize you can't believe everything you read online, that is why I decided to ask here as well. Thanks for you input. :)
  7. southerngirlkjc

    southerngirlkjc In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2014
    Thanks for all the info!
  8. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Some chickens tend to eat more than others. I don't know about you, but if I eat too much food, I just poop more. Some of that food may end up as muscle or fat on my body, but some of it is "wasted". Same with the chickens, so yes, feed could be wasted. In your case, yeah, I would probably just leave the feed out all the time. Ours tend to eat in the morning and late afternoon. They also free range and if I am around, I do block off their feed for the middle part of the day, to force them to free range. Some birds will free range more readily and others will just sit at the feeder all day long. But since you're not free ranging, I wouldn't worry about it, just feed them as you will.
  9. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Songster

    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    When I got a treadle feeder I was amazed at how much LESS feed I went thought. I'm pretty sure wild birds and rodents were eating more feed than my flock was. It cut down on my feed by 50% I would say. We have tons of starlings around here and a handful of them can empty a feeder in a hurry. So... if you leave your feed out 24/7 and you feel like you are going through way to much feed maybe your chickens aren't the only ones eating it.

    None of my chickens seem to camp out at the feeder. They all run to eat when I first unlock the coop in the morning (my food and water is in the run) then they spend the rest of the day laying under the coop in their dust baths. I think when they get used to having access to food all of the time they don't worry so much about eating as much as they can in one sitting.

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