Let's talk today about feeding chickens. In addition to providing a roof over their heads (make sure you check out our recommended chicken coop plans), another important thing you will need to do is provide them with a balanced diet. As a general guideline, average sized chickens will each eat about 4-1/2 ounces of feed a day.
If you have the time, check out this short two minute video about feeding chickens. If not, continue reading below...
Mash or Pellets? Commercial feeds are available in either form. Mash is the "old school" variety. Many experienced keepers use it because they believe it is more easily digested by their birds. Mash can be ground to different levels of coarseness, and can be either fed dry to your birds, or mixed with a little water.
Even though it is a little more expensive than mash, many people decide to feed their birds pellets instead. Regardless of which kind you decide to use, both mash and pellets provide your birds with the nutrition they need, although attention should be given to the formulation types. For example, you will want to feed your mature birds a different formula than what you feed your chicks and growing chickens.
If you have chicks, you will need to feed them chick crumbs instead of mash or feed for the first six weeks. Then you will want to wean them over to mash or pellets formulated for growers. Once your growing chickens start laying eggs (at about five months), you will want to gradually switch them to a feed suitable for layers.
When feeding chickens, make sure you also supply them with a small container of grit. Grit is essential in their digestion process, helping them to break down food. Plenty of fresh, drinking water is also necessary.
As a special treat, you can also provide your birds with leftovers from your kitchen. They will enjoy fresh raw or cooked, green vegetables, as well as corn cobs and leftover fruits. You can also provide them with potato peelings, although you should boil these in unsalted water first. When you let them out of their run, they will also happily forage for bugs, grubs, weeds and grass.