The popularity of keeping chickens continues to grow, whether it is on a smallholding or in a large back garden.
It is important to know what to feed your feathered friends in order to keep them in the best possible health and to allow them to produce the best tasting eggs for you to enjoy.
What should I feed moulting chickens?
Moulting can have an effect on the amount of eggs that your chicken produces, due to their body using extra protein to grow new feathers rather than towards laying. These feathers are of course important as they will be needed to keep your chickens warm as you move into winter, but you can try to supplement their diet in such a way that you can achieve egg production as well as feather regrowth.
Let your chickens go free-range, as they can gain extra protein from eating the insects that are readily available in your garden.
Feed adult chickens a blend that is aimed at baby chicks, as this will naturally have a higher protein content. Simply add it into their usual feed.
What is the cheapest way to feed chickens?
As with keeping any animal, there is always a cost involved for their food and dietary requirements. You need to be sure that you are giving your chickens an appropriate feed in order to keep them healthy and nourished, but there are also some ways that you can try to keep the overall cost down.
Encourage insects and creepy crawlies to your chicken pen by positioning a compost heap just outside the boundary. This will attract juicy bugs that your chickens can eat in order to gain extra protein in their diet and make them less hungry for other food.
Shop around for the best value on chicken pellets, as these can vary greatly between retailers and contain much of what your birds will need in their diet.
Visit a farmers market at the end of the day and make an offer on what chicken feed they have left. They will often throw this out if not sold so they will be grateful for anything that you can pay.
Chickens love weeds so offer to take any off your neighbours and pop them into the enclosure for a healthy way to supplement your chickens appetite.
Give your chickens scraps from the kitchen such as salad, vegetables and stale bread.
What should I feed chickens for the best eggs?
How you treat your chickens and what you feed them can have a massive impact on the quality of the eggs they lay. If you do not consider what you are giving them, simply throwing them poor quality feed and leaving them to fend for themselves, you should not be surprised if their eggs are poor, or do not lay at all.
Balanced amounts of calcium and protein are essential for promoting strong eggshells.
Water is more than half of an eggs volume, so this should be available to your chickens at all times.
A diverse mix of grains, insects, seeds, berries and plants will be highly nutritious towards tasty eggs.
Green vegetables are great for their natural vitamins and minerals.
Plenty of fibre from nutrient dense carbs will be an important addition.
Why should I feed chickens grit?
Giving your birds grit to eat may sound unpleasant, but it is actually incredibly good for them. Chickens have a great digestive system, using grit to help break down any blockages and addressing poor food conversion.
Grit will help your chickens to absorb their food safely from the gut.
Give your chickens free access to grit, they tend to know how much they need.
Grit can come in different sizes, so choose according to the size of your bird.
Even free-range chickens should have access to grit as they are often unable to find it in their natural surroundings.
How do I feed chickens without attracting rats?
Rats can become a real pest if they work their way into your chickens coop, eating their food and making the spread of disease much more likely. They have also been known to kill and eat newborn chicks. Rats will eat pretty much anything, so it's not what you feed your chickens, it’s how.
Clean up any spilled food before you put your chickens away for the night.
Store food as far away from the coop as you can.
Keep food in strong containers and not bags, as rats will easily chew through these.
Remove food and drink sources from outside the hen house every night.