One of the key things you need to know when you get chickens is how often you should feed your birds to provide them with enough energy and all the nutrients they need.
Establishing a good feeding routine is important for you and your chickens, but advice does vary so it can be difficult to know which routine works best.
So, I wanted to put this article together to help you decide which kind of feeding routine will work best for you and your chickens, depending on your circumstances and setup.
Chickens need to get enough food each day to provide them with energy to fuel their bodies, this can be done by either feeding a few times a day or feeding once and allowing access to food throughout the rest of the day.
Read on to find out more about which chicken feeding routine will work best for you along with information on feeding free-range chickens and potential overfeeding.
Establishing a Feeding Routine
Establishing a regular feeding routine when you get chickens is important because they’ll get to learn this routine and it can help things like getting them back to the coop if they’re free-range.
Not all chicken owners are around during the day due to work commitments etc, so whatever routine you establish, it needs to work around you too.
Below are various feeding options depending on your situation along with some things to consider for each different routine:
Feeding Chickens Twice/Three Times a Day
This is probably the most popular feeding routine and is easy to follow even when you’re away for the day.
The best times to feed chickens if you’re feeding two or three times per day is once in the morning when they first come out of the coop and in the evening an hour or so before they go into roost.
If you’re feeding at regular intervals make sure your chickens get all the food they need for the day spread over these meals.
By using this method there’s no need to leave feed out during the day, which is helpful if it’s at risk of getting eaten by other animals.
We find that our chickens tend to get hungry (and start following us around) at around 3 pm so we usually throw them a cup of feed to keep them going until their evening meal.
This article was first published on April 1, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets.
Feeding Chickens Once a Day
You can also feed chickens once a day by leaving out a larger amount of food in the morning when they come out of the coop, which is more than they need so they can come back to graze throughout the day.
Things to consider if you’re using this method are making sure there’s enough food per chicken for the full day and that it can’t get eaten by other animals such as rats and birds.
Any food which is left will need to be refreshed the next day and it’s not a good idea to leave food out overnight because this will attract rats who will keep returning for more.
You can also buy automatic feeders which the chicken can open themselves by standing on a lever that lifts the lid. These can sometimes be problematic and not all chickens can figure them out.
Feeding in Hot or Cold Weather
When it comes to how often to feed chickens it’s also good to consider hot or cold weather where the chickens are struggling a bit due to the weather.
For example in very cold weather and snow, natural foods are scarce and they need a little extra energy to keep warm, so we like to throw an extra handful of feed here and there for them to graze from during the day.
An additional feed of corn later in the day is also a good idea in cold weather because it helps to raise the body temperature a little as the feed is digested.
In very hot weather chickens might not feel like eating so much and you might want to give them more access to juicy treats such as watermelon or cucumber so they can get some extra water.
How Many Times a Day Should You Feed Free-Range Chickens?
When you keep chickens who are free-range they will also be grazing for natural foods which they find during the day.
How much natural food (such as vegetation, insects, worms and seeds) a chicken will find will depend on where they’re grazing and the time of year.
When a chicken free-ranges, even though they’re finding additional food, you still need to offer them the same amount of chicken feed to make sure they’re getting all of the nutrients they need.
This is especially important for laying chickens who need extra calcium which is found in layer feed.
Treat natural grazing as a bonus which will keep chickens happy and healthy, but not as a food replacement.
If your chickens are free-ranging I would recommend feeding them in the morning when you open the coop and in the evening before roosting. This way it doesn’t matter if they’re not close to their feed during the day.
Can You Overfeed Chickens?
It is better to give chickens access to a bit too much food than not enough because chickens will only eat what they need.
Chickens won’t overfeed because once their crops fill up they’ll walk away from the food and stop eating.
To find out more information on this topic, you might find the following article helpful:
Do chickens know when to stop eating?
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Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on April 1, 2021.
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on April 1, 2021.