Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Healthy hens and roosters don’t come in baskets from storks. It takes the right kind of chicken feed to turn them into active clucking fluffy butts in your coop.

 

What is chicken feed called?

There are several types of chicken feeds. Starter feed is a protein dense variety of chicken feed designed to meet the dietary requirements of baby chicks. To complicate matters, there are varieties of chicken food known as starter/grower feed, which is essentially a type of feed that chickens can eat from 1-20 weeks of age.

 

Generally, chickens are to be fed depending on their growth development stage. 

 

For baby chicks a day old to 10 weeks starter feed should be crumbles or mash that contain 18% protein. Don’t be confused with crumbles and mash. Crumbles look like tiny pieces of granola while mash are finely ground chicken feed pellets. Both are easier to be consumed by chicks compared to huge pellets.

 

Eventually, they’ll start laying. Chicken layer feed would be similar to the textured mixture of crumbles, mash, and pellets. However, It needs at least 16% protein minimum, with added calcium. Layers need high protein chicken feed as well for more eggs. You also need to stay away from feeding onions, and other strong tasting foods to layers. They cause and undesirable taste to the eggs.

 

What do you feed chickens for tasting the best eggs?

We try different types of chicken feeds, but we feed them high quality layer feed and supplement it with our very own blend of natural herbs, oyster shells, garlic for immune boosting, and apple cider vinegar granules to balance gut pH and introduce beneficial bacteria. You can check it out here.

 

What do you feed a chicken?

The basis of any good chicken diet is a high quality poultry feed. We feed our girls a layer mash, which provides them with the right amount of protein and minerals to keep them laying eggs! In short, you can feed chickens:

  1. Layer pellets (16% protein)
  2. Dried insects like black soldier fly larvae or mealworms
  3. Vegetables (here’s a list of vegetables you can feed chickens)
  4. Fruits such as grapes, berries, and melons
  5. Grasses
  6. Seeds like wheat or millet

 

What is the best feed for chickens?

The best feed is high in protein, while providing all the nutrients chickens need. While there are a lot of commercial chicken feeds on the market, I still prefer non-GMO chicken feed. We’re proud to have the best chicken feed that can even give chickens fluffy feathers and produce the best eggs! Click here to know where to get chicken feed.

 

If you want to make your own homemade feed, just make sure it has essential chicken feed ingredients. You can read my favorite chicken feed recipe here.

 

How much do you feed a chicken per day?

A well known ballpark figure for estimating purpose is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Keep in mind that this is a ballpark figure, and you’ll need to watch your flock’s intake. If they gobble their feed quickly, and still seem hungry, offer more.

 

Do free range chickens need feed?

Yes. Even though they have access to pasture, you still need to give them poultry chicken feed to make sure they’re getting the right kind and enough nutrition.

 

Do chickens need food and water at night?

Chickens roost and sleep at night, and they won’t get up to eat and drink until it’s light again. However, you should always provide 24 hour access to water. Here’s a list of waterers we recommend.

 

How often should chickens be fed?

How often do you feed chickens is a very common question in growing backyard chickens. Food must be available to chickens whenever they need it. The full feeding method is a good technique to guarantee that there is constant supply of feed at all times. You can also use automatic feeders like these. We’ve also reviewed Duncan Feeder’s automatic feeders here.

 

How much food does a chicken need per day?

¼ cup of a high quality chicken feed. Best to offer free choice all day.

 

Can you overfeed chickens?

Everything must be taken in moderation. Overfeeding chicken is possible and they become obese especially if they’re confined to the coop. Free range hens however get enough exercise and are unlikely to be obese.

 

Do free range chickens need scratch? 

No. They don’t. Unless it’s winter and the ground is covered in snow.

 

Then there’s also grit. Grit is not feed, it’s rocks. Chickens need grit to help digest their feed. It’s their equivalent to teeth. Free fed chicken will find their way to grit in the form of tiny bits of stone and gravel but it would be helpful if you threw some in the coop or their feed too. 

 

Grit comes as flint and oyster shell. Oyster shell is soluble and it provides calcium which would be much used by layers in particular. It’s just like feeding chickens with eggshells.

 

What should you not feed chickens? What foods are poisonous to chickens?

While looking for alternative chicken feed, you might have considered beans. Although they look like something chickens would eat, dried and raw beans are a no-no. It contains phytohaemagglutinin which is fatal to chickens. Moldy fruits and vegetables aren’t good as Fowl feed too.

 

Caffeine is also toxic to chickens. Giving them a few pecks of chocolates would not cause too much harm but remember, chocolates are known to cause cardiac arrest in birds!

 

Other foods that are not good for chicken are:

  1. Processed food
  2. Raw potato peels and green potatoes
  3. Avocado skin and pit
  4. Raw meat
  5. Greasy food

 

You can see a list of what not to feed chickens here.

 

What scraps can chickens eat?

Some table scraps that are safe for chicken to consume are:

 

  1. Vegetables (cooked or raw)
  2. Fruits (leave the seeds out)
  3. Grain
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Corn (cooked, raw, and dried)
  6. Peas
  7. Bread
  8. Yogurt

 

Again, make sure that these foods are not moldy or spoiled. You might have also heard of feeding chicken expired yogurt. It’s not something to be frowned on. Feeding chicken yogurt helps even out chicken gut bacteria for a better digestion. You can also add a few tablespoons of yogurt when fermenting chicken feed.

 

Where can I buy chicken feed?

You can find chicken feed for sale at local farm stores. You can also find them on Amazon here.

 

How can I feed my chickens cheap?

To reduce chicken feed bill, free ranging would be a good idea. A garden can provide additional and natural feed for your chicken who sometimes don’t stop eating. Another option is to make your own chicken feed. Learn how to make chicken feed and check out my chicken feed recipe here.

 

What can I grow to feed chickens? 

Growing chicken feed is not complicated at all. Remember what was in grandma’s garden and sow them! Chickens can eat vegetables like corn, lettuce, kale, and any other leafy vegetable you usually grow. Sunflower and Millet are great seed producing plants too! These make great grower feed for chickens and organic chicken feed too.

Build A Grazing Box For Healthier Backyard Chickens (Detailed Instructions!)

Build A Grazing Box For Healthier Backyard Chickens (Detailed Instructions!)

If you’re looking for a surefire way to keep your flock from getting the stuck-in-the-coop blues, build a grazing box for your chickens.

 

And the best part? Building a grazing box for your chickens (using chicken wire or hardware cloth) won’t cost you a ton of money!

 

You might already know your chickens need boredom busters so they don’t start fighting and picking at each other’s feathers.

 

Building your chickens a grazing box for herbs and healthy greens will help reduce unnecessary stress in your flock, and give them a healthy, constructive hobby – and you’ll get healthier eggs too!

 

The main benefit of a grazing box is that as the herbs and greens grow through the hardware cloth, your chickens can eat them, but can’t devastate them or scratch them up by the roots.

 

For just a few minutes of work on your part, your chickens will be rewarded with a healthy, fresh treat again and again.

 

Here’s how to build a grazing box for your flock for under $15!

 

Build a grazing box for your chickens

 

What you’ll need:

  • One 2x6x10 heat-treated board, cut into four 2’6” pieces
  • ½-inch or 1-inch hardware cloth (at least 2’6” by 2’6”)
  • Staples or finishing nails
  • Eight 4” wood screws
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Stapler (if using staples)
  • Wire cutters
  • Seeds for herbs and greens, or starts if you have them
  • Good soil or composted manure


Our Costs (yours might vary):

  • Wood: $4.89
  • Hardware cloth: $5.97 for 36”x10’
  • Screws: Leftover from a previous project
  • Finishing nails: $0.99 from a dollar store

 

How To Build A Grazing Box For Your Chickens

 

This project easily scales, so if you have a lot of chickens and you want a larger box, you can easily make your design larger or smaller as needed.

 

For a flock of 5-10 chickens, the size of the box in this article works very well.

 

Cut the wood into four pieces, each 2’6” long and screw them together.

 

It’s important to use heat treated wood that hasn’t been exposed to chemicals so your chickens stay safe while snacking on their treats.

 

We purchased new wood for this project from a trusted source, costing us less than $5 at a local lumber yard.

 

Using a circular saw or a handsaw, cut the wood into four separate pieces, each 2’6” long.

 

Screw the pieces together to form the box. We used 4-inch wood screws for this project to make sure the pieces were secured together, and we could move it around without danger of it falling apart.

 

While it might be tempting to use a thinner piece of wood, the box won’t be as sturdy, so I recommend sticking with the 2x6s.

 

Add the hardware cloth

 

build a grazing box for your chickens

 

Decide whether you’ll use staples or nails to attach the hardware cloth to the box.

 

We used finishing nails because we already had them on the farm and they’re easy to bend, but staples work just as well. Just make sure the hardware cloth is secure to protect the growing herbs and greens.

 

Both finishing nails and staples withstand chickens well.

 

Cut the hardware cloth so there’s only a slight overhang. Be sure to tamp down the edges of the hardware cloth with the hammer so there’s no chance one of your chickens won’t get cut on a sharp edge.

 

Identify where you’ll place it in the coop

 

Ideally, you will choose where you’ll keep the grazing box in your coop before building, which will give you a good idea of how big to make it.

 

But if you’re like me, and tend to just make stuff before figuring out where to put it, then now is the time to measure out a 2’6” by 2’6” square in your coop so your chickens can easily access it.

 

Make sure you choose an area that drains well and doesn’t flood. It should also be near a water source, or otherwise be an easy place to water.

 

Before putting the grazing box in the coop, first amend the area where you plan to keep it to make sure you can actually grow greens or herbs there.

 

Add a good quality topsoil or composted manure to the area, then plant your seeds or starts. Top with the grazing box, making sure the hardware cloth is facing up.

 

It will take a few weeks before the greens are large enough to eat, but when they are, your hens will get a treat!

 

I recommend finding something to cover the grazing box with as the seeds sprout and grow.

 

As we all know, chickens like to poop…and they’ll poop all over your grazing box as the grass is growing. So, it’s necessary to protect it with a clear cover; a large piece of plastic is a good option.

 

I recommend keeping it away from your chicken feeder so poop doesn’t get over the feeder as well.

 

What to grow in your grazing box

 

Now that we’ve built the grazing box for your chickens, you might wonder what’s best to grow in it.

 

Here’s some options your chickens will love:

 

Alfalfa grass – high in protein

Oregano – supports a healthy environment

Sage – natural dewormer

Calendula – Flowers have lots of beta carotine, supports healthy yolks

Parsley – source of many essential vitamins

Garlic (for leaves/scapes) – supports a healthy immune system

Wheat grass – great source of protein, vitamins

Barley grass – great source of protein, vitamins

Kale/Mustard/Other greens – great source of protein, essential vitamins

 

Grab my free cheat sheet about 7 herbs you can start feeding your chickens today and in just 10 minutes, you’ll have healthier hens at TheFrugalChicken.com/ChickenHerbs

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll build a grazing box for your chickens? Leave a comment below!