Chickens Feeding: How much food should you give to your chickens?

 You have just installed a chicken coop at home? If you want to raise laying hens and collect fresh eggs daily, it is imperative to pay attention to the diet of your chickens.

Chickens Feeding: How much food should you give to your chickens?
Chickens Feeding: How much food should you give to your chickens?

 It is important to establish a balanced diet for your poultry so that they receive all the necessary mineral and vitamin inputs for their well-being.

A good diet is key to stimulating egg-laying in hens. We explain everything!

What type of food is best for chickens? 

 Your chickens' diet will have an impact on both the quality of their feathers and eggs. In addition, properly dosing this diet will help keep them healthy as long as possible. It is therefore very useful to know how much feed is suitable for a hen.

 Additionally, the type of seeds you give your chickens is important just as much as their quantity. You should also consider the environment in which the chickens live.

The dietary needs of chickens

 Chickens are omnivorous animals. They can therefore eat a variety of foods, both meat and vegetable. The foundation of their diet is made up of seeds and grains, but they can also find happiness with some insects, worms, and even small snakes!

Tip: Although it is possible to give your chickens table scraps, it is best to prioritize chicken feed made of complete pellets or seed mixtures as their main food source. This food contains all the essential ingredients for the good health of chickens.

Composition of chicken feed

 There is no fixed value to know for the amount of food per chicken. This depends on the environment and enclosure in which the chicken will be living. The larger, more suitable, and grassy the enclosure is for the chicken to peck in, the less the daily grain ration needs to be.

 Also, before assessing how much food a chicken needs, it is useful to know the composition of its diet.

Energy and proteins

 It is recommended to respect a proportional principle in the composition of chicken feed. 30% of the protein intake and approximately 70% of the energy intake are estimated.

 Among the energetic foods, you will find many seeds and cereals. These include wheat, crushed corn, oats, rye, barley, but also millet, and sorgo. It is recommended to mix at least two of these cereals. You can also give your chickens cooked potatoes (never raw!) or nettles.

 Among protein-rich foods, you can select a number that contains plant-based proteins. For example, you can choose sunflower or rapeseed cake, or crushed legumes (broad beans, peas, etc.). Some other seeds also have an interesting protein content, such as flax, soy, or lupin seeds.

 It is also possible to give chickens a little bit of animal protein from fish or meat. Some manufacturers offer bags of dried larvae or dehydrated mealworms. These are good protein supplements to seed mixtures, which contain up to 16% protein.

 By respecting these proportions and varying the content of meals, your chickens will benefit from everything they need in terms of vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and trace elements. They will also have unrestricted access to greens and water.

Tip: also leave grit available to your chickens! This is made up of small crushed stones that will activate the gizzard of small poultry. Since they have no teeth, the grit they ingest will grind the food and allow for good digestion.

Compositions adapted to the specific needs of chickens

 Moreover, many ranges of seed mixtures or complete pellets that you will find in stores are designed to meet the specific needs of chickens. For example, you will find specific mixtures for laying hens, enriched with oyster shells to provide calcium, which is essential for the proper formation and resistance of eggshells. In fact, the calcium content in the daily diet of a laying hen is around 4%.

 Regarding laying hens, if you want to have good organic eggs every day, choose a mixture of seeds certified as organic!

 If you have ornamental chickens, there are seed mixtures that are specifically designed for them. They will contribute to the quality of the plumage and eggs. Because ornamental chickens also lay eggs! Even if they do so in smaller quantities than laying hens. These seed mixtures include amino acids that support the production of keratin and natural pigments, among other things.

 Finally, of course, you will not give the same type of food to chicks as to adult chickens. Therefore, you will find complete foods or seed mixtures adapted to chicks, with a presentation in the form of crumbs and containing highly digestible proteins.

Generally, brands indicate on their packages how much food is suitable for one chicken.

How much food does a chicken need?

 Depending on the size (bantam, standard, or giant) and living conditions of the chicken, their daily seed ration can vary from approximately 100g to 160g. If the chicken has access to a large outdoor area where it can roam and forage, it will consume fewer seeds. Conversely, a chicken that has less opportunity to feed itself will have a higher seed consumption.

 Additionally, the health of your winged animals and the quantity of food you give them are highly related to their environment and living conditions.

Estimating the daily ration

 You will first do a test to see how much feed will fit a chicken. To start, choose a feeder suitable for the number of chickens you have. Pour the equivalent of 120 grams of seeds per chicken into the feeder. For example, if you have 2 chickens, you will pour 240g of seeds, if you have 3 chickens 360g, and so on.

 Do this in the morning. Then, check in the evening if there are any seeds left in the feeder. If so, it means that the dose you gave is suitable for the chickens. If not, you will increase the ratio. The next morning, add about 10 grams of seeds per chicken. This will give you 260g for 2 chickens, 390g for 3 chickens, and so on.

 Repeat the process until the feeder is no longer empty in the evening. It will indicate that your chickens have eaten enough for the day, even if there are only a few seeds left.

 Monitor the behavior of your chickens to ensure that all of them have access to the feeder. If this is not the case, place several feeders spaced apart.

Adapt the ratio to the season

 The daily dose of seeds or pellets will not be the same in winter as it is in summer. Indeed, during the winter period, chickens will spend less time outdoors, and the food they are used to finding while foraging in the garden will become scarcer. They will, therefore, rely more on seed mixes. You will increase the seed ratio when it is cold.

 Moreover, some foods are a bit more energetic than others, such as corn. Do not hesitate to put a larger quantity of these energy-rich foods in the seed mix.

When to Feed Chickens?

 Chickens usually eat throughout the day. It is therefore not necessary to divide their daily ration into two or three meals. Therefore, you can put the entire day's ration in the feeder in the morning. The residents of your coop will regularly help themselves and then go about their business by pecking at grass, which can provide them with another portion of their food.

 Split the daily ration into two meals if you don't want to give it all at once, and offer them both at the same time each day. It can be helpful to give a little food in the evening to get the chickens back into the coop, especially during their first outings.

Other types of food

 As chickens are omnivores, you can give them leftover food that you haven't consumed (in addition to complete pellets or seeds). However, you should still be careful about the food because some are not recommended or even dangerous for chickens.

 Among the permitted foods that the residents of the coop will appreciate are vegetable peels and leaves. You can also give them rice and pasta, fruits, lettuce, or cheese rinds.

 Among the prohibited foods are raw potatoes, leftovers of prepared dishes, and foods that are too rich in salt. Also, avoid strongly scented foods like leeks, garlic, or onions. In general, do not give them what you do not eat, such as banana peels or other fruits.

How to Feed a Chicken?

 The container that will hold the chicken's food is the feeder. You will find many different models with various sizes. Some are long, and others have a circular shape.

 To prevent potential conflicts between chickens during mealtime, which can lead to pecking, they should have enough space to eat. Otherwise, competition between chickens could arise...

 Therefore, you should plan a feeder that is big enough for all small birds to eat comfortably. If you have a large coop, you may consider having multiple feeders. In this case, place the feeders apart from each other to avoid having all the chickens gathered in one spot at the same time to eat.

 After calculating the daily ratio for all your chickens, divide it evenly among the different feeders. Also, make sure they have access to water in a drinker. Choose a drinker with a reservoir that pours water into a saucer. Again, you can have multiple drinkers depending on their capacity and the number of chickens. Remember that a chicken can drink up to 300ml of water per day, and this amount can rise in hot temperatures!

 Additionally, make sure to place the feeders in a sheltered area in the coop that is not exposed to rain. Moisture can cause the seeds to rot. In the evening, when the chickens go to their coop to sleep, remove any remaining seeds from the feeders to avoid attracting other small animals, including rodents. Their presence can stress the chickens and also carry diseases.

 Furthermore, do not place feeders and drinkers under the perches, as they may become soiled with droppings.

Tip: store the food bags in a place protected from the weather (rain or moisture in general) and other possible animals. Also, do not stockpile too much food, as it may exceed the expiration date and lose its nutritional quality.

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.
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