How to feed a chicken | What to feed a chicken
What to feed a chicken
We often get asked "what do chickens eat?" When chickens are in their natural surroundings and given enough space they will find themselves a balanced diet of vegetable matter, seeds, bugs and small animals.
When they are domesticated they are unlikely to find enough to maintain a balance especially when kept in an urban setting so will normally need a ready made feed.
The 2 main chicken feeds you will be offered are layers pellets and layers mash. Mash is chicken feed in a course powder form and layers pellets is made of the same ingredients but squeezed into small pellets. The Farmgate Layers feed we sell also contains a calcium supplements to ensure egg shells remain strong. Poultry feed may also contain a colour enhancer such as marigold petals to give a nice yellow yoke, or a synthetic subsitute.
A good quality layers feed should give most hens all they need. As they get old, or through illness they may need additional substitutes.
Chickens also love corn, but it's like feeding children on a diet of chocolate - they'll become fat and less productive. Given a chose they will only eat corn even if there is a ready supply of layers feed. The best soluion is to have the layers feed available all day and feed them a handful of corn in the evening. This can be espeically benifical during cold weather as it will have a warming effect as they digest it over night
What to feed a chick or young chicken
Chicks hatch with a belly of food so don't need any feed in the first 24 hours but as soon as they are out of the incubator they can be offered chick crumb. They stay on chick crumb for the first an 6 weeks. After that they can change to a rearers or growers feed. They'll stay on this until 16-20 weeks. A chick will need approx. 1 kg of chick crumb to 6 weeks and then 7 kg of rearers feed to take it to point of lay.
Feeding Chickens Scraps?
Chickens will eat almost anything you give them, they are even partial to the occasional mouse or frog.
As chickens are livestock and not pets (even if they are) according to DEFRA they should not be feed kitchen waste. This includes anything that has been through a kitchen that is used to feed humans. Buying veg just for your chickens would be acceptable. This law was created to protect the farming industry following the outbreaks of BSE and foot and mouth.
How to select a suitable size feeder.
You should allow 100-120g of feed per day for each hen. Bantams will need slightly less, large breeds more. Cockerels tend to eat much more than hens.
We suggest at least a 2.5kg chicken feeder for use with adult birds - anything small will get knocked over.
Our budget range is great as a starting point. They last well but some do have a tendency to crack if you drop them in cold weather.
Our quality plastic chicken feeders are much more robust and should give several years services but like all plastic items left outside the sun will eventually make them brittle and more prone to cracking.
Our galvanised chicken feeders are the most robust option. they're likely to last for many years.
By Simon Wells