question about feeding chickens? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have 4 Rhode Island Red chickens, ranging in age from 8-10 weeks. I keep them in a 4'x 8' chicken "tractor", with feed and water available at all times, and I supplement their feed with kitchen scraps. I have always fed my chickens this way, and never thought anything of it, until today when my neighbor came over and suggested that I am overfeeding them. Is that likely? Right now they are eating about one quart of grower ration daily. Curious to know how everyone else feeds their chickens.

-- Elizabeth (, January 15, 2001


I have always feed my chicks free choice of grower ration. Never heard of a chicken over-eating. Was the neighbor seeing waste on the ground?? If they are wasting that might be considered over feeding. imho

-- diane (, January 15, 2001.

I too feed my chickens free choice (2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Dominiques, and a few bantams) and don't have any "fat" chickens. I thought I read somewhere that how much a chicken will eat depends on the energy content of the feed. Ie; they'll eat a LOT more low energy feed than a high energy feed for the same production.

-- Eric in TN (, January 15, 2001.

We feed our chickens free choice of grower/layer ration according to size and free range in sring, summer & fall in the yard, kitchen scraps (they usually go right into the compost pile and pick whatever they want) and whole or cracked corn (fed by our 3 year old). Plus unlimited water. They've always been healthy and happy and good layers. Can't wait to place our order for new spring chicks!

-- Rose Marie Wild (, January 15, 2001.

Out of hundreds of birds I've had, not one has ever overeaten. They just walk away when they're full, and sometimes this would mean that the slower or shyer eaters would now come and get their fill as well. If there's rotting food on the ground, then you do know you're overfeeding.

-- Julie Froelich (, January 15, 2001.

I agree with everyone, it is impossible to overfeed your chickens, just keep the feed fresh, as Julie said, rotten or moldy feed is not good! It is better to err on the side of too much feed, than too little. And they do love "greens" of all types, saves on the storebought feed.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 15, 2001.

I feed my chickens free choice of what ever grain I happen to want to use for them. When we get them as chicks we feed starter, then grower. After they are grown I have had real good luck with a little chopped corn and a lot of oats. In fact my chickens lay better on that than any laying mash I ever tried. I also feed them kitchen scraps and let them out of their pen about 1 hour before dark so they can scratch in the garden. They never seem to bother anything in the summer garden and the few greens they eat in the winter garden aren't missed...they just make the eggs richer.

-- Artie Ann Karns (, January 15, 2001.

Oh, oh ~ frantically waving arm in the air ~ me too! I free feed all my critters, those in the house, the livestock, Guineas and chooks. The Guineas and chooks get 17% Chick Starter with Amprolium when they hatch and stay on it all their lives. When they're laying age, I mix Diatomaceous Earth and oyster shell into the feed. That's all I feed them. They lay eggs all year 'round with no heat/lights. They free range during the day (we don't get snow here), wander in and out of the pens for feed/water, and tuck themselves into their pens at dusk. To date, I have not had a sick bird.

-- ~Rogo (, January 16, 2001.

Almost forgot, NEVER any raw potato skins in the kitchen scraps. I've heard they're like poison to chickens.

-- Rose Marie Wild (, January 16, 2001.

Your neighbor might be confusing your birds with broilers (as they now come in color varieties) also known as cornish X rock. I've been told that broilers should never be fed free choice as they will eat so much, they actually hurt themselves. Then again, just how much does your neighbor know about poultry?

In my opinion, I see nothing wrong with free choice feeding of any poultry (with the possible exception of broilers).

animalfarms (in Indiana)

-- animalfarms (, January 16, 2001.

Is there anything else besides potatoe skins that you shouldn't feed your chickens? My pig usually gets the potato skins anyway, so I never gave them skins, thank goodness, but I do give them lots of other scraps. Never meat scraps tho.

-- Cindy Palmer (jandcpalmer, January 21, 2001.

My Goodness - the depth of knowledge found herein! Our birds get everything that we consider "not likely to be eaten" leftovers. They love it all, and (squeamish people hit "BACK") are particularly enamored of chicken or turkey carcasses that are excess to our needs for soup. We love the soup, but with chicken at least once a week, the crew mutinies at too much of a good thing! As concerns free choice feeding, do not worry that your chickens will overeat. Me, yes! Probably you, yes. Chickens, no. And go rent "Chicken Run"! If you have chickens, you'll find it a good movie! GL!

-- Brad (, January 21, 2001.

Forgot to mention - nothing wrong with potato skins, unless they are green from too much sunlight. These are also "poisonous" to you and a lot of lifeforms. Senior moment - can't remember the toxin! Help, other folks! Oh! I almost never peel potatoes, since many of the goodies are in the skin, and I want them for myself. However, on the rare occassion that I do peel them, I cook the skins before I give them to my chickies! GL!

-- Brad (, January 21, 2001.

My chickens DO get meat scraps. Cold cuts or carcasses ready for picking clean go to the chickens. They also get any little leftovers from someone's plate, meat or otherwise.

In this deep snow crackers and other simple items interest them more than scratch. I have to say my girls are not interested in corn. Sigh. I supplement their scratch with oats.

-- Anne (, January 21, 2001.

I have never overfed chickens in 8 years and they get any leftovers we have but I did read in the book" Skills For Simple Living" by Betty Tillotson that if they are overfed the can get fat around the ovaries. She said she had some die when they started laying. Not in my experience though.

-- Tom (, January 22, 2001.

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