how much do you feed your laying hens?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by brody, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    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)
     
  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm This Space For Rent Supporter

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    All they want, all the time.

    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
     

  3. mommathea

    mommathea Well-Known Member

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    This.

    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.
     
  4. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm This Space For Rent Supporter

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    Get your feed store to order a bag for you.

    It will probably be cheaper and not so finely ground.
    If they refuse it, you can mix some in with their feed
     
  5. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    glad I asked ...
    thanks :)

    how much do they eat usually?
     
  6. Elsbet

    Elsbet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    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.
     
  7. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    fair enough - we have three girls who get lots of scraps and bugs and weeds .. so if i put out 2 cups now that might be an ok starting place?
     
  8. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would estimate about a half a cup per hen.
    Personally, I do not keep my feeders topped up 24/7.
    It draws predators, especially rodents.

    I feed in the early morning and it is just about gone when I lock everyone down for the night.
    If there is too much feed still left, I give them a little less the next morning.
     
  9. moonkitten

    moonkitten Well-Known Member

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    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 :yawn:). When I left it out at night we had a family of rats move in. :badmood: 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.
     
  10. mammabooh

    mammabooh Metal melter Supporter

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    I keep the feeder full also. The coop gets locked up at night, so there haven't been any critter problems so far. The feeder is kept inside the coop, so that probably helps too.
     
  11. Parttimefarmer

    Parttimefarmer Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  12. akane

    akane Well-Known Member Supporter

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    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.
     
  13. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm This Space For Rent Supporter

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    Figure on roughly 1/4 lb per day, per bird, and adjust from there.

    It's easier to just use a larger feeder and fill it every few days , or once a week.

    If mice get too bad, I set some traps and feed the mice to the chickens too
     
  14. brody

    brody Well-Known Member

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    great advice everyone - thanks:)

    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 :)