Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Hi everyone! We're new to this group & WOW what an awesome resource!!
We have 17 laying hens (Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons & 3 crazy Leghorns) that we keep in a 300sf run with a 60sf coop. We let them free range in our back yard, which is about .10 acre. Currently we have two feeders that provide constant laying pellets and crumbles. We also feed them kitchen scraps almost every day.
I was wondering if you have opinions on feeding. They seem to eat a whole lot of the supplemental feed. I've read that some folks only feed them once a day. Are we feeding them too much?
Thanks for any input.
That's exactly what I'm thinking! We've been pulling weeds - dandelions and such & putting those in their run the last few days (since we're trying to rent our place & need to get the back yard in shape for renters). So they're getting tons of greens - plus table scraps, yogurt, etc. When we move, they'll have lots of room to forage. I just wonder if they're eating too much of the commercial food. Thanks for your input, Catherine!
I feed once a day, each evening, in the warmer months and in the morning in the winter. I only feed what they can clean up that day/meal. Feeding in the evening during good forage months encourages more foraging and still lets them get a belly full of laying ration before going to bed.
Your laying ration isn't the supplemental feed~the graze and forage is. The small area you provide won't fulfill their dietary needs and laying hens need good protein and calcium levels to lay well. Buff Orpingtons aren't the most feed efficient breed and will eat you out of house and home. Because of the excess fat they carry, they won't be your best layers either. They sure are pretty but that is their best quality.
The Barred Rocks will be more feed efficient and forage well if they don't have continuous and easy feed presented all day. Remove the feed during morning and afternoon hours and feed once a day each evening and you will see a slimmer, more active hen that will lay better for you on the feed you are providing.
Table scraps are fine every once in awhile, but to lay well they really need the layer feeds. If laying well is not the goal, then the extra foods like scraps, yogurt, etc. is fine but a bird won't forage for greens as much if they are presented with readily available feed.