dumb question as I've had 3 different sets of laying hens each of the last 3 summers but these girls feel thin compared to the others ... i have been feeding 3-4 handfuls of laying crumble twice a day ... they are out most of the day in a yard that has grass and bugs and out in our garden/backyard 2 hours or so in the evening ...
also one laid a VERY thin shelled egg yesterday and today ... should I do something extra for all of them? (the first year I found a little ground oyster shell in a pet store and offered it to those birds - they never ate it - I did nothing last summer and those birds were fine - though they didn'tlay prolifically)
I just keep the feeder filled, and they regulate themselves
For thin shells, you can try a calcium supplement.
Most use Oyster Shell in a seperate dish from their feed, so they can eat what they want.
You can also feed their shells back to them
Always have the feeders full. Laying hens won't gorge themselves. They'll eat what they need, and if let out to roam early, and locked up at dusk they will eat fresh first then come back for the feed so they naturally supplement what they need.
It really depends on a lot of things- how much free forage they are getting, what you are giving them for table scraps, if any, what the weather is like, even what breed, to a degree... We have 13 chickens (3 of which are bantams that I never see at the feeder) and put out about 6-8 cups of laying food a day, and there is still food left at night. On a different pasture, or if they were kept in pens, we'd be feeding a lot more than that.
I keep my feeder full too, but to solve the predation problem, I pick it up at night before I go to bed and put it back out first thing (before coffee even ). When I left it out at night we had a family of rats move in. Since I've been taking the feeder in at night (and trapped the momma rat and dug up the nests), I haven't seen any rat sign at all.
I feed maybe 6 cups a day to 11 chickens that pasture as much as they want. In the summer I up the protein content (to about 18%) and feed oyster shell. They forage a ton, I figured the protein of forage was around 10-12%. In winter they get 16% layer.
We just keep the feeders full and deal with the rodents other ways since they show up whether the feed is down 24/7 or not. The chickens like to eat the mice if they find them while they are awake. Chickens will choose to free range over eating feed. Sometimes in the late summer and fall they don't eat anything for months so overeating is not a concern unless you have confined birds that are very bored. Confined birds might get fat from not enough exercise and eating a little too much. Letting them out to range that should not be a concern.
I'm the type who would have asked this three years ago - wonder if I misunderstood the instructions then? the hends have all done fine and in fact were pretty plumphere ... these ladies arrived skinny and bedraggled .. looking forward to fattening them up a bit