13 tips for feeding your flock | Living the Country Life
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13 tips for feeding your flock

Keep your chickens happy and healthy by giving them the right feed and supplements.
  • All-day buffet

    If your birds don't tend to overeat, you can put a feeder in a covered area and make it accessible all the time. Regardless of how you feed your flock, provide fresh, clean water at all times.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Calcium supplement

    If you have laying hens, or if your chickens are looking for grit, provide a smaller feeder with a calcium source. It will help them produce strong egg shells.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • True grit

    Feed your flock insoluble granite grit in addition to calcium. According to Alabama Cooperative Extension, calcium grit dissolves quickly in the gizzard, so it doesn't function as a grinding material. Birds need grinding material because they often eat feathers and other materials that need grinded in order to be digested. You don't have to continuously feed grit, but should make it available a few days per month.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Watching their weight

    Heavier breeds are more likely to overeat, and can gain more weight than they should if food is available all the time. They can be fed twice daily, but this is a time-consuming method, and it can be difficult for owners to gauge how much the birds actually need. 

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Get the amounts right

    If feed isn't always available and enough isn't given at feeding time, the birds can establish a pecking order, which may lead to cannibalism. Larger, more aggressive birds will get more to eat, and smaller birds won't get enough. If you aren't sure, it's better to over feed.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Check protein

    Protein requirements vary depending on the type and age of birds. Mature layer/breeders need 14% to 16% crude protein, while 0-to 4-week-old broilers on a starter diet require 20% to 23%. Consult the feed packaging for details on how much to feed.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Grazing supplements

    Even if your chickens are free-range or have access to eating in a pasture, it's a good idea to offer complete feed plus a limestone source for at least part of every day.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Complete feeding

    You can purchase complete feed from your local feed store, in either mash, pellet, or crumble form. This is a fairly easy way to feed a flock, since the feed includes all the needed supplements, so you only need one bag of feed.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Mash, pellets, or crumbles?

    Your feed store can convert mash feed into pellets or crumbles, at an additional fee. The mash is compacted in pellet or crumble form. Mash feed can be dusty and messy to feed, but pellets are easier to handle.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Grain supplement

    To save money, you can supplement complete feed mash with a grain supplement. Leghorns tend to do a good job balancing their intake of grain and mash. Heavier hens may eat more grain and require some restriction.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Feed handling

    Buying in bulk and storing your own feed may seem like a good idea, but keep in mind nutrients are destroyed over time. Fat can become rancid, rendering fat-soluble vitamins inactive. Mold and bacteria can grow, and pests may be a problem. 

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Storing feed

    If feed bags are stored on the floor, place them on pallets, because they can draw moisture if placed directly on the concrete. You can store open feed in water-tight containers, but don't use metal. Never store feed for longer than a month in the summer and two months in the winter.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014
  • Feeding scraps

    Offering chickens garden scraps from time to time is a good way to cut down on waste and give the birds some variety in their diet. Fruits and vegetables -- including berries, apples, and greens -- as well as bread and rice, are all good choices.

    Date Published: March 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 22, 2014

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