How to Feed Your Chickens Properly: Guide, Tips, and Tricks

You've done it! You've finally taken the plunge and become the proud owner of some lovely laying hens! You plan to take good care of them with the intimate hope of harvesting beautiful fresh eggs every morning. But beware, you need to be vigilant about your chickens' diet.

How to Feed Your Chickens Properly: Guide, Tips, and Tricks
How to Feed Your Chickens Properly: Guide, Tips, and Tricks

 These gallinaceous birds that frolic under your windows are fragile creatures that cannot be given just anything. To feed your chickens properly, it is essential to know their dietary needs, habits, and foods to avoid.

Best practices for feeding your chickens well

What is a chicken's diet?

Just like humans, chickens are omnivores. This dietary habit allows them to eat all kinds of food, whether animal or vegetable. The basic rule is simple: what you don't eat, your chickens won't eat either.

 However, this principle must be nuanced. You may love chocolate, but it is not recommended to give it to your chickens. Conversely, they love eggshells that you would not eat for anything in the world.

 Keep in mind that chickens are capable of determining what is good for them or not. Let's say it's part of their genetic heritage.

When should you feed a chicken?

Chickens naturally live according to the rhythm of the sun. At dawn, you should fill the feeder and then open the doors of the coop. Once released, the chickens scatter around their enclosure and indulge in their favorite activity: wandering around and scratching the ground in search of protein-rich food.

 They peck and eat insects, invertebrates, and even small amphibians with appetite! Chickens are thus able to feed themselves autonomously. However, you need to consider the space they have and the biodiversity that exists in them. The food you give them daily should be considered a dietary supplement.

What quantity of food eats a chicken every day?

Depending on its needs, size, and time of year, a laying hen eats between 150 and 200 grams of food per day. This amount is divided between what it naturally finds in its range (the grassy space it has access to) and what you give it as a supplement.

 Chickens have the ability to self-regulate and not eat more than necessary. The feeder is an excellent indicator to determine if your chickens are eating enough. If the feeder is empty in the evening, they are probably not satiated at bedtime.

 In this case, you will need to gradually increase their daily ratio while observing what remains in the feeder over the course of days.

How vital water is to a chicken's diet?

Water is essential in a chicken's diet. Every day, it drinks the equivalent of 10% of its weight or about 250 ml of water for an average-sized adult chicken. As with food, it is important to ensure that chickens have enough water available to them.

 The use of a plastic waterer is highly recommended. It should be cleaned regularly and the water should be replenished daily (or 2-3 times a day during the summer). Adding vinegar to sanitize the chicken waterer is not necessarily recommended because it tends to decalcify not only the bones but also the eggs.

Understanding and mastering chicken feeding

Basic chicken feeding

Chickens are omnivores, so they do not have a specific "basic" diet. They find all kinds of food in their run to satisfy their appetite, including grass, seeds, fallen fruits, insects, and invertebrates. Chickens also love cereals, either cracked or sprouted, such as wheat, barley, or oats. In cold weather, it is recommended to feed them corn and sunflower, which are high in carbohydrates and contribute to fattening them up. Finally, leftover meals and vegetable and starch-based purees will delight your flock.

Feeds for laying hens

Many specialized stores promote the benefits of feeds labeled as "special for laying hens," which are supposed to promote egg laying. These mixes mainly consist of seeds and cereals, but transparency is not always guaranteed when it comes to the possible presence of preservatives, growth hormones, and antibiotics.

 Vigilance is required regarding these products that tend to weaken the chicken's immune system. In the long run, they can even cause irreversible tumor diseases. So, for the health of your chickens, why not support your local economy by sourcing from cereal producers near you?

Kitchen scraps

While feeding your chickens kitchen scraps can help reduce your food waste, it is essential not to reduce them to "walking trash cans." In moderation, you can give them ripe fruits or vegetables, but never moldy ones. It is also preferable to limit feeding them thin peels (apples, pears, carrots, zucchini...).

 Distributing wet, stale bread should remain occasional. However, eggshells and crustaceans (oysters, mussels, shrimp...) are excellent sources of calcium for laying hens. Don't hesitate to cook, grind, and crush them before distributing them to your protected ones.

Chicken Feed

As a rule, chicken feed is a unanimous choice in the chicken coop. It is easy to prepare as it only requires improvisation:

  • Rice, pasta, or semolina as carbohydrates,
  • Fish, meat, or hard-boiled eggs for protein,
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables (depending on the season) for vitamins,
  • Olive oil or cod liver oil to add a binding.

The feed is ready when you obtain a sort of "mush" that is not too liquid. Chicken feed recipes can be endless. Try the experiment by putting in the pot whatever comes to your mind. All that remains is to serve and watch your chickens feast.


Supplements can help prevent certain chicken ailments. They also provide vitamins that they cannot find in their usual diet, which are essential for their good health. Once a week, to strengthen their immune system, add grapefruit seed extract to the drinking water. Supplements can also be directly integrated into chicken feed:

  • Spirulina gives vitality and helps fight against certain diseases;
  • Cod liver oil makes up for vitamin D deficiencies;
  • Turmeric, thyme, and rosemary are excellent antiseptics.

Foods to Avoid

Establishing a list of foods to avoid is not an easy task. Simply keep in mind that chickens naturally know what is good for them or not. Remove the foods that they reject and ban them from their diet. As you would for your own meals, pre-cooking certain products (potatoes, onions, dry beans, etc.) is recommended. Avocado is to be avoided as it contains a toxin that can cause a chicken's heart to stop. The rest is a matter of common sense - thus, avoiding chocolate, sweets, or moldy food.

In summary

 Properly feeding your chickens is essential to keeping them in good health and increasing their lifespan. The few tips provided here should help you achieve these goals. Chicken feed depends largely on their environment and what they find there on their own.

 It is up to you to provide them with water and the necessary food supplement. By closely observing the behavior and dietary habits of your chickens and adapting their diet accordingly, you can only move towards the ideal scenario: happy chickens, fresh eggs, and delicious omelets!

تعديل المشاركة

Islam Khennoucha

Islam Khennoucha is an Australian author and chicken farmer who has dedicated his life to the study and care of these fascinating creatures. He was born and raised in Algeria, where he developed a love for nature and animals, especially chickens. After moving to Australia, Islam purchased a farm where he could fulfill his passion for raising chickens.
No comments
Post a Comment

Post a Comment