Raising backyard chickens is a fun and rewarding experience, and feeding them properly is an important aspect of chicken care. Whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or just starting out, it’s important to understand the nutritional requirements of chickens and how to provide a balanced diet to keep them healthy and productive.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding chickens, from understanding their nutritional needs to choosing the right feed, feeding schedules and amounts, and maintaining feeder and waterer hygiene. So, let’s get started and learn all about feeding chickens in your backyard!
Chicken Nutritional Requirements
Chickens have specific nutritional requirements to maintain good health and lay eggs. Here are the key nutritional requirements of chickens:
Energy: Chickens need energy in the form of carbohydrates and fat to maintain their body temperature, grow, and produce eggs.
Protein: Chickens need protein to build and repair tissues, produce eggs, and grow feathers. A balanced diet should contain at least 16% protein.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Chickens need vitamins and minerals to maintain good health, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
Fiber: Chickens need fiber to maintain digestive health and regulate digestion.
Water: Water is essential for chickens and should be available at all times. Chickens need to drink water to digest their food, regulate their body temperature, and produce eggs.
You can achieve this with commercial feed or by making your own chicken feed.
Choosing the Right Feed For Your Chickens
Choosing the right feed for your chickens is an important aspect of chicken care. Here are some tips for choosing the right feed for your chickens:
Understand Chicken Nutritional Requirements
Before choosing a feed, it’s important to understand the nutritional requirements of chickens, including the amounts of energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need.
Read Feed Labels
Feed labels provide information on the ingredients and nutritional content of the feed. Make sure the feed you choose meets the nutritional requirements of your chickens.
Choose the Right Type of Feed
There are different types of feed available for chickens, including layer feed, starter feed, grower feed, and others. Choose the right type of feed based on the life stage of your chickens.
Consider Commercial vs Homemade Chicken Feed
Commercial feed is convenient and formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of chickens, while homemade feed can be more cost-effective and allow you to control the ingredients.
Some chickens may require specialty feeds, such as high-protein feed for breeds that lay larger eggs, or feed for chickens with specific health issues. Consult with a veterinarian or poultry specialist if you have any questions.
When To Feed Your Chickens
The frequency and timing of feeding your chickens will depend on various factors, including the type of feed, the life stage of your chickens, and the weather conditions. Here are some general guidelines for feeding your chickens:
Chickens should be fed once or twice a day, depending on the type of feed and the life stage of your chickens. It’s best to provide feed in the morning and in the late afternoon to prevent spoilage and waste.
Chickens should have access to feed at all times, so they can eat as needed. It’s important to keep the feeders clean and dry to prevent contamination.
In hot weather, chickens may eat less and need access to plenty of water. In cold weather, chickens may eat more and need extra energy to maintain their body temperature.
Chickens need access to fresh, clean water at all times. Clean and refill the waterers regularly to prevent contamination and ensure that the chickens have enough water.
How Much Do Chickens Eat?
Starter Feed: Chickens from hatch to 6 weeks of age will eat approximately 1/4 to 1/3 pound of starter feed per day.
Grower Feed: Chickens from 6 weeks to 20 weeks of age will eat approximately 1/3 to 1/2 pound of grower feed per day.
Layer Feed: Adult laying hens typically eat about 1/4 to 1/3 pound of layer feed per day. This can vary depending on the type of feed, the weather conditions, and the age of the chickens.
Adjust Feeding Based on Weather: In hot weather, chickens may eat less and need access to plenty of water. In cold weather, chickens may eat more and need extra energy to maintain their body temperature.
Supplementing Chicken Diets
Are you looking to add some variety to your chickens’ diet? Supplementing their feed can be a great way to do just that. In this guide, we’ll go over some simple and easy ways to supplement your chickens’ feed.
We all have leftover veggie and fruit peelings that we don’t know what to do with, right? Well, your chickens will love them! Just make sure to avoid feeding them anything moldy or spoiled. And remember, these scraps should be offered in moderation as a treat.
Leafy greens and herbs, like lettuce, spinach, parsley, and basil, are a great way to add some extra nutrition to your chickens’ diet. Just make sure to offer them in moderation, since they are high in water content and can fill your chickens up without providing much nutrition.
Grains, like oats and corn, and seeds, like sunflower seeds, can be a great addition to your chickens’ diet. Just keep in mind that they are high in fat and calories, so offer them in moderation.
Always make sure to provide a balanced diet for your chickens by consulting a veterinarian or poultry specialist if you have any questions. And be careful not to interfere with the balanced diet provided by commercial feed.
What Not To Feed Your Chickens
While chickens can eat a wide variety of foods, there are some foods that are toxic or harmful to them and should be avoided. Here is a list of foods that should not be fed to chickens:
Avocado: Avocados contain persin, which can be toxic to chickens.
Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to chickens.
Raw potatoes and green potato skins: Raw potatoes and green potato skins contain solanine, which is toxic to chickens.
Rhubarb leaves: Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to chickens.
Alcohol: Alcohol should not be given to chickens as it can cause serious health problems, including liver and kidney damage.
Onions and garlic: These vegetables can be toxic to chickens in large amounts and can cause anemia.
Moldy or spoiled food: Moldy or spoiled food can contain harmful bacteria that can make chickens sick.
Can my chicken eat that?
Can chickens eat blackberries
Yes, chickens can eat blackberries. In fact, blackberries are a great treat for chickens as they provide a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. It is also important to ensure that the blackberries are clean and free from pesticides or chemicals before giving them to your chickens.
Can chickens eat zucchini
Yes, chickens can eat zucchini. Zucchini is actually a very healthy vegetable for chickens, as it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals. It is also low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it a great addition to their diet.
Can chickens eat cucumber
Yes, chickens can eat cucumber. Cucumber is a safe and healthy vegetable for chickens to eat, as it is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. It is also a good source of hydration for chickens, especially during hot weather.
Can chickens eat apple
Yes, chickens can eat apples. Apples are a nutritious and tasty treat for chickens, as they contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Apples also help to keep chickens hydrated, which is important for their health. Make sure to remove the apple seeds before feeding them to your chickens, as these parts can be harmful to their health.
Our chickens go nuts for the kid’s apple cores, scraps when I am not making jelly, leftover apple slices with peanut butter, and all those apples that toddlers take only a single bite out of.
Can chickens eat celery
Yes, chickens can eat celery. Celery is a nutritious vegetable for chickens, as it is high in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C. Celery is also a great source of fiber, which helps to keep chickens’ digestive systems healthy.
My chickens love the scraps from when I am making soup, They go crazy for the celery and carrots scraps. I do save the bottoms of celery to regrow for more food but the rest goes to the chickens. Limit giving your chickens celery leaves as they can be stringy and difficult to digest and make sure you are offering grit.
Can chickens have tomatoes
Yes, chickens can have tomatoes. Tomatoes are safe for chickens to eat, and they are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Make sure to remove the stems and leaves from the tomatoes before feeding them to your chickens, as these parts of the plant contain toxins that can be harmful to their health.
Green, unripe tomatoes contain solanine, which can be toxic to chickens, so only feed ripe, red tomatoes to your chickens. Remember if you are growing tomatoes you can pick the unripe ones before a frost and stick them in a window to ripen.
How to Clean Your Chicken Feeder And Waterers
Maintaining clean feeders and waterers is an important aspect of chicken care, as dirty feeders and waterers can attract pests, harbor bacteria, and cause health problems for your chickens. Here are some guidelines for cleaning your chicken feeders and waterers:
Remove all feed and debris from the feeder.
Wash the feeder with warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any dirt or grime.
Rinse the feeder thoroughly with clean water.
Allow the feeder to air dry completely before refilling it with feed.
Remove all water from the waterer.
Wash the waterer with warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any dirt or grime.
Rinse the waterer thoroughly with clean water.
Allow the waterer to air dry completely before refilling it with fresh water.
Sanitizing Feeders and Waterers
Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 9 parts water.
Dip a cloth into the solution and use it to wipe down the inside and outside of the feeder or waterer.
Rinse the feeder or waterer thoroughly with clean water.
Allow the feeder or waterer to air dry completely before refilling it with feed or water.
By providing a balanced diet, supplementing with kitchen scraps and greens, and offering adequate water, you’ll be ensuring that your chickens are healthy and happy. And don’t forget about maintaining clean feeders and waterers to prevent contamination.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in answering your questions about feeding chickens. Remember, every flock is different and may have specific needs, so be sure to consult with a veterinarian or poultry specialist if you have any concerns.
So go ahead, give your chickens a well-rounded diet and watch those eggs start rolling in. Happy chicken keeping!