How Much Should I Feed My Chickens?

Keeping Backyard Chickens Healthy Requires Proper Nutrition

One of the most discussed subjects among chicken owners is how much do chickens eat? And just like with humans, there’s no set answer to this question. It depends on so many factors, from breed to feed quality to climate and other variables.

Foraging and Free Range Feeding

Depending on geography, climate and the size of your property, chickens can survive almost entirely by foraging. In fact, foraging is a chicken’s preferred method of eating. It provides exercise and entertainment as well as some great nutrition. If needed, you can promote natural foraging behavior by hanging a free-range feeder in your yard. These feeders operate with timers that release varying amounts of feed so your birds get the nutrition they require in a more natural way.

General Guidelines

A typical laying hen will eat 4 to 6 ounces of feed each day. This will vary, especially depending on the weather. During the cold months, chickens need more fuel to keep their bodies warm. So, they will naturally consume more food. During the warm months, body heat is not a problem. So, chickens will consume less feed. Plus, if chickens free range, food is more plentiful during the spring, summer, and fall.

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What to Feed Chickens

Many people wonder what to feed chickens. Today’s quality chicken feed usually contains all a chicken needs to stay healthy. This makes feed decisions pretty easy. Most first-time chicken owners will try a few quality brands to see what their birds prefer.  Treats are fine, in fact, many people wonder can chickens eat corn. Yes, they can have corn and many seem to love it. But treats should be given in moderation; they should be healthy and should not replace daily food rations. Fresh water should always be provided. If you’re raising chickens for eggs, shell quality is important. Oyster shell and old eggshells from your hens can be provided free choice. And, for strong eggshells, learn more about Purina’s Oyster Strong (TM) for Strong Shell.

Published in April 2015 and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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