A Guide to Feeding your Chickens
How much do Chickens Eat?
On average, a laying hen will eat 100-150 grams of feed each day and, ideally, requires access to a limitless supply of clean water. Chickens can self-regulate their feed intake so you can fill the feeder and leave your flock to eat as and when they need. However, it is best to feed treats such as corn, which are low in protein and energy, in the evening after your chickens have eaten the food necessary for their health and for egg production.
Types of Feed
If your chickens are free roaming they will fill their bellies with lots of tasty insects and flowers. However, the most important portion of any hen’s diet comes from Layers Pellets or Layers Mash. Most chicken keepers supply their birds with specific poultry feeds; which have been designed to meet the needs of laying hens.
Chick Crumb – Chick crumb is packed with protein and aids the growth of chicks up to six weeks old.
Growers Pellets – These pellets are fed to growing birds between 6 and 18 weeks old and contain the necessary nutrition to support growth.
Layers Pellets – Layers pellets are fed to birds over 18 weeks old and contain the necessary ingredients for healthy egg production.
Layers Mash – A finely crushed layer pellet which is, generally, fed with water.
Corn – Mixed corn has less protein and energy than other chicken feeds and is, therefore, generally used as a treat.
Mixed poultry grit, typically, contains small pieces of insoluble flint and soluble pieces of shell. Chickens need constant access to this, throughout the day, to aid digestion and shell production. Chickens do not have teeth and instead rely on insoluble grit to breakdown food from within the gizzard; a small muscular pouch. A hen’s egg shell is made, mostly, of calcium which is greatly supplemented by the soluble shell pieces.
Chickens love to scratch around and will devour insects, flowers and dark leafy greens in your garden. Tasty treats, such as mealworms and corn, are brilliant boredom busters and can be used to help tame your hens. However, these have little nutritional value. Fresh berries, pumpkin, watermelon, broccoli, sprouts and peppers are popular and healthy alternatives.