Although chickens are natural foragers, you still have to provide feed. Don’t worry, as they’re not picky eaters. Let them grow healthily, as you’ll be the one to reap the result of their productivity.
Whether you grow chickens for eggs or meat, you have to be mindful of the proper feeding pattern.
How many times a day should I feed my chickens? You have to fill their feeders twice a day. However, you have to know that there are recommended amounts and kinds of feed. Different nutrients are needed by chickens based on their age, size, and activity like laying eggs.
So, bear in mind that chickens will only grow and serve their purpose if given the proper amount of nutrition.
Their growth also depends on their genetic potential, so it’s worth knowing their maximum size. This article will help you to evaluate whether you feed your chickens properly or not.
What Should Chickens Eat?
Chickens are labeled as omnivores, so they can eat plant-produced foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as protein feeds. Here are the foods that are usually given to them:
You can buy poultry feeds that are in the form of crumble, mash, or pellet. The pellets are ideally given to commercial broilers because they become low-energy feed. It’s also the form that eliminates salmonella.
So, these chickens can eat more if barley, rye, and wheat are in pellets. A heat that improves digestion is present in this feed for the improvement of digestion.
Even though it’s a low-energy feed, it can provide the amount of energy needed by the broilers. The mixture of different feedstuffs for these chickens is called ‘cafeteria feeding.’
If you don’t like commercial feeding, you can also make feeds at home. It’s a practical decision if you grow different kinds of grains and you have a grinder. You may just buy grains and make your chickens’ ration.
If you opt to do this, make sure you follow the guidelines of the National Research Council.
Since chickens are omnivores, you can feed them table scraps like vegetables, bread, and dairy products that are still good and not rotten. If it’s bad, you have to consider it unhealthy for your chickens. Nonetheless, feeding them table scraps should be done like giving them a treat.
Don’t make table scraps as the main course, as they’re not balanced. If you do so, nutritional disorders can occur. The balanced main course doesn’t only enhance health conditions but egg production as well.
Therefore, it’s good for laying hens. You should know that nutritionists advise that laying hens should begin with dietary energy levels.
No matter what chickens eat, they don’t usually have a healthy gut. Regarding this concern, you can add medicated feed to the starter feed. It can fight coccidiosis which can cause fatality among chickens, especially at a young age.
Grasses and Insects
Free-range chickens can look for their food. They can eat grasses and insects like worms, beetles, and crickets.
Related: Chicken Feed: All You Need to Know!
How Much to Feed Chickens per Day?
The amount of feed needed by chickens varies because of age, gender, weight, and activity. Laying hens require a daily feed of 100 to 250 grams, of which 17 grams should be protein. Here’s a table to guide you further.
|Age (weeks)||Body weight (lb)||Daily Feed (gram)|
Related: How Much Feed per Chicken? | All You Need to Know!
How Many Cups of Feed Per Chicken?
A cup is enough to feed a chicken, and it equals 100 grams. Due to the feed’s consistency, the content of one cup can be around 120 to 140 grams.
How Often Should Hens Be Fed?
Just like other chickens, you have to feed hens twice a day.
Can You Overfeed Chickens?
You can overfeed chickens by giving them food treats. Although chickens know when they’re full, they can eat excessively as they’re not picky eaters. When given healthy feed, they can’t be overfed.
Chickens can sometimes be stressed, and they will eat non-stop, even the treats. So, it’s on your end to limit the treats that they can eat.
One way to prevent overfeeding is by giving them organic food. You can prepare treats like vegetables, fruits, seeds, grass, weed, insects, and scratch grains like oats, milo, and cracked corn. If you allow overfeeding, there will be consequences.
When it happens to lay hens, it can cause fatality and egg binding, which means disabling a chicken to lay eggs. You have to worry when you see the unusual bigger eggs of your hens.
Chickens can gain weight because of overfeeding, so they’re less mobile. They can also show signs of lethargy and irritation.
Can You Feed Chickens Once a Day?
You can feed chickens once a day. Even though twice a day is recommended, as long as you place the required amount in their feeder, it’s fine.
Will Chickens Stop Eating When They Are Full?
Free-range chickens that forage their food likely know when they are full. However, broilers may not be conscious of it, and they continue to eat as long as there’s food in their feeder. That’s why you have to give them healthy and organic food. Also, be careful with the number of treats that you give them.
What’s the Best Time to Feed Chickens?
You can do it any time of the day. But if you work, you can feed them in the morning and the evening.
Do Chickens Need Food and Water at Night?
Chickens need food and water any time of the day. If they’re awake, they may need to eat. Access to water should be available at least every 10 hours, even during winter. You have to install a heater on the waterer in winter to prevent water from freezing.
How Much Water Should a Chicken Drink a Day?
Water is essential in the healthy diet of a chicken. If there’s not enough supply of water, chickens will stop eating. If this happens, there will be a negative impact on growth and egg production.
On hot days, an adult chicken drinks 0.08 to 0.16 gal of water. When the weather is cool, the water consumption is lowered to 0.05 to 0.08 gal.
For instance, a fountain drinker can serve 6 to 14 adult chickens when the weather is hot. When it’s cool, it’s enough for 12 to 15 fully grown chickens.
Add two or three extra drinkers in case of spillage and leakage. Some aggressive chickens may fight over drinking water.
Can You Leave Chickens Alone for a Week?
You can’t leave chickens alone for a week. As mentioned in a study about food and water deprivation that happens to chickens, the longest time that chickens remain in a vehicle to be transported is 50 to 72 hours.
It’s a rare case that these animals are neglected for more than 84 hours or 3.5 days.
What Vegetables Are Bad for Chickens?
Here are the vegetables that are bad for chickens:
- Raw beans
When Not to Feed Chickens?
You don’t have to feed newly hatched chicks for 48 hours. The nutrients from the yolk can sustain their needs in the said time frame.
Feeding Tips for Chickens
- The nutritional needs of each chicken differ as they grow. Chicks require more protein than adults. Chicks must have a 22% to 24% protein starter, while it goes down to 20% to 21% for 2 to 4-week-old chickens. Those that only have 4 weeks to wait before being marketed should be given 18% to 21% of protein finishers.
- The main nutrients that must be given to laying hens are phosphorus and calcium.
- The larger the chicken, the more feed and requirements on maintenance are needed. Since male chickens are larger, they need more feed than females.
- Before giving the feed to the birds, check the label to ensure that you give the right age group.
- Make sure that the feed that you give to your chickens is free from molds.
Though it’s recommended to feed your chickens twice a day, the crucial pattern of their diet is getting the amount of feed that they need. Water should go hand in hand with high-quality feed to complete a chicken’s healthy diet.
You have to give the right amount and nutrient requirements per age to the chicken. Pay attention to their size and the needs of hens that lay eggs.
List of Sources
How to Care For Backyard Chickens in Winter
Principles of Feeding Small Flocks of Chickens at Home
How Much Will My Chickens Eat?