Keeping chickens is a wonderful hobby and pastime and if you have decided to have some chickens in your back yard you may want to know what to feed chickens.
You don’t need a large garden in order to keep chickens but you do have to bear in mind that you will need about 50 square meters for two birds. Your garden should include some area of soil with shrubs and plants where your chickens can forage and feel safe.
They are very good at foraging and will in fact find a large proportion of their food from the land. So if your garden can provide an area of grass and other greenery they will be very happy chickens and forage about all day. They will also enjoy a few worms and insects to feed on in your flower and vegetable plots. Their water supply will also be found in any old flower pots and containers as well as in puddles.
Even with this natural supply of food you may wish to give your hens a good balance of what they need to give them the energy to lay all those lovely fresh eggs for you. Your hens need a good balance of food in the way of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and this is especially more so if your hens do not have the opportunities to be completely free range. Therefore you can buy specially prepared backyard chicken treats for this purpose. This food for laying chickens is called layers mash or pellets. This is a mixture of barley, wheat, oats and maize. A good quality feed should have a label which says it is vegetarian; the protein being soya and not any other kind. A fully grown chicken should be given about 130g of this feed a day.
Water is very important and you should always ensure that your chickens have a supply of clean fresh water every day. Check it at least twice a day in hot or cold weather to make sure your chickens have an adequate supply. A chicken will drink about 500mls on a hot day! The container for the water should be one that your chickens cannot stand in or tip over. It must be strong and durable and easy to clean. You can buy special water feeders which work on a fountain system and supply your chickens with a constant water level. Very good but not absolutely necessary at first. Your chicken does not swallow like most animals; instead, they have to tilt back their heads to drink.
A good tip for feeding your chickens is to give them some scraps from your kitchen such as rice and vegetables and fruit. Don’t give them any fatty or salty foods. As chickens do not have teeth they rely on small stones to help grind up the food in their gizzards. You must supply them with some grit in a container if you don’t have a garden with enough soil and stones.