How Much Do You Feed Chickens?

I think I was starving my chickens.  I am not proud of this.  Further reason that this blog serves as a place to educate folks on exactly how-to because I can never find the answers on these things until it hits me in the face!


So, when we first got our chickens, we had eight.  Three or so scoops two or three times a day to spoil them, lots of scraps, running around the yard, they were all set.  We lost some, got some more, now at fifteen, upped the food ration some, everything seemed good.  Lost some, gained some, now we are at twenty-four as of last August.  Upped it a little (now at nine scoops a day, probably the equivalent to a cup and a half a scoop) and that is when I noticed as the girls (and rooster) got bigger over this autumn that they seemed more desperate.  We blamed it on our move, then their molting.  We noticed that the gate kept being opened to the chicken yard.  We asked the neighbors, no one had touched it.  We put a cinder block in front of the gate, they moved it.  They meaning twenty-four hysterical birds.  They did indeed descend from dinosaurs.  Velociraptors, I think!


I began to ask around how much should we be giving the chickens.  They stopped laying eggs all together.  They didn’t look emaciated, but they certainly weren’t happy.  Sandy and Lisa both just fill up the feeders in their coops.  Doug said the chickens will go through it in one day!

“Then they were hungry!” was Sandy’s smart reply!

So, he filled up the two foot high feeder.  And it was half gone the first day.  But since then it has leveled off and we were indeed starving our chickies and we feel terrible about that.  Sandy also mentioned that throwing out a bowl full of scratch daily is added protein and food.


We read several articles and books.  None of them ever mentioned just filling the feeders up.  In fact, I have read that you don’t free feed because they will just eat and eat and eat.  I also read that you don’t keep a heat lamp on or they get “weak” and that if the power went out on a cold night they wouldn’t be used to it and would die.  I have read all sorts of things, but here is the conclusion that this farmer has come up with.

Henry Higgin's replacement.  Meet Christopher Robin.  Let's hope he's nicer than Henry!

Free feed.  Particularly in the winter, without being able to run around and find bugs and such.  They need more food in the winter to keep warm.  They produce eggs for me which is food to me.  They deserve fresh water, treats, and plenty of food.  They deserve a red light in the coop.  It was negative twenty-two degrees last night.  We turned on the lamp!  They may not be pets in the sense that the cats are, but they are still in my care and on my farm and should receive the exact same care and treatment as the indoor animals.  I free feed the cats and dogs, why not the chickens.


I hate learning farming lessons the hard way but then at least I can help out a new chicken person when they ask the internet, “How much do I feed my chickens?”


6 Comments Add yours

  1. juliepullum says:

    We have 8 chickens, we fill the meal up daily and they have a pint of corn/scratch in the morning. They also have warm oats this time of year (I know they are chickens but they love it) we give them a seaweed mineral additive, they free range, but as you say, it’s a bit thin on the ground this time of year and they have a pint of corn/scratch in the afternoons. They have been on their moult but we are back to 7 /8 eggs a day. We haven’t suffered too much cold either last winter or this yet and they seem happy!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      My chickens have requested to move overseas to be with you. I will do better!

      1. juliepullum says:

        I’m sure they’d look really cool with their little suitcases and they’d be very welcome!

  2. We have 5 rescued babies (5/6 month old) and their mother. They are growing, they are recovering from the stress of the move here and it is cold here so they get fed often and a lot. Momma is recovering from a long brooding session (where she lost 20 to 30% of her body weight brooding and raising) plus the stress of the move here so I am giving her more food to bring her back to normal. I do not monitor how much I give them right now but rather I feed them three times a day. Their morning feed is organic mung bean sprouts for green and protein (when they are the hungriest) plus grower feed for the babies and cracked corn for protein and energy. I check on them around noon and fill up their feeder again with kitchen scraps, any greens from the garden I can pick and some cracked corn – the growing mash remains in the feeder so they always have that on hand. If I can get them out of the coop during the day I’ll throw corn or scratch on the ground for them to peck around. Then around 4/5 p.m. (before the long night ahead) I give them a handful of reconstituted meal worms with cracked corn (again for protein knowing that they have a long night ahead of them. At bedtime I remove the large/primary feeder and water from the coop when they go to bed because I am told that chickens do not see well enough at night to eat or drink. When it is not winter they get a lot more food/worms and grass/greens from free ranging but this time of year they depend almost totally on me. Donna at the Small House Under a Big Sky

  3. Jocelyn says:

    We have 2 pens right now. One with 18 hens and a roo and one with 20 pullets and 3 roos that are just hitting puberty. All year we free feed pellets in the feeder and give them kitchen scraps everyday (7 people in the house makes a lot of food scraps and we also get food scraps from the Italian restaurant around the corner). In the winter we add a scoop or two of scratch for the added calories.

  4. debweeks says:

    Boo Hoo!!! I have NO chickens!!!!
    But one day I WILL!!!
    So thanks for the information and I’m glad to hear your chickens are much happier now that you are armed with more knowledge about their care.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s