As with any livestock, giving chickens the right amount of food each and every day is mandatory if you want them to stay healthy and thrive. They must have enough calories and nutrition, of course, but it’s bad to give them too little or too much in kind.
And believe me, it’s an easy thing to do because it seems like chickens are always eating and the temptation to give them more and more food is definitely real- if you care about them! So, how much should you feed your chickens every day?
A chicken typically needs between 1/4 and 1/3 pound of nutritious feed daily. Laying hens need more, around ½ pound as do very large breeds.
Feeding chickens isn’t rocket science, but you’ve got to do some arithmetic if you want to make sure your flock is getting enough food, but not too much food.
Likewise, you’ll always have to adjust to account for the individual needs of different birds and other factors. It’s not too tough, though, if you make use of the info I’ll share with you below. Grab that bag of feed and we will get a move on…
How Many Times a Day Should You Feed Chickens?
It depends, but generally two feedings a day is a good idea.
Spacing out feedings keeps chickens from overeating, and having a schedule for mealtime gives them some routine which benefits their overall health and wellness.
However, as an option you can give them smaller servings more often, and often laying hens and sick or injured birds benefit from having four smaller feedings instead of two larger ones.
Generally, you never want to give your flock a single, large feeding that contains all of their calories in a single serving. It might make sense on paper, but it never works out the way you hope.
How Much Food Should Chickens Get in a Serving?
The serving size that you should give an individual chicken is the required amount of feed they should get, as detailed above, divided by the number of feedings they are going to get in the day.
For instance, if your individual birds get a ¼ pound of feed a day, and you’re going to feed them twice a day, they will get 2 ounces at each serving. If the feeding schedule was for servings a day, it would be a single ounce.
Calculating the serving size this way is simple, quick, and won’t let you down. Don’t eyeball it if you want to keep your chickens trim and healthy!
How Many Cups of Feed Should Each Chicken Get?
An adult chicken getting ¼ pound of feed a day will consume, on average, about a half cup’s worth.
Note that this will vary slightly depending on the exact caloric content of the feed, but is generally reliable. A chicken that’s eating closer to a ⅓ pound will need around 3/4 of a cup, and a ½ pound equals one level cup.
Do You Need to Individually Serve Chickens?
Not usually. If you want to feed your chickens with a trough or other type of feeder that will allow the whole flock together around and get a given portion, they can eat all together. However, you must pay attention to make sure that all of your birds are getting the required amount of food that they need.
Any birds prone to bullying or getting pushed out of feeding time because they are low on the pecking order might need a small stash of food all to themselves, or may even need to be put in their own temporary pen or enclosure for feeding.
In short, as long as all of your chickens are getting along and you are measuring and dispensing the feed properly according to their needs, you don’t need to serve them individually.
Should You Leave Food Out for Chickens All the Time?
You can, but this isn’t a good idea most of the time. That’s because chickens have a marked tendency to overeat. If the food is there, they are going to eat it. They are highly food-motivated and have no sense of restraint until they’re full to bursting.
Make no mistake, they probably aren’t going to eat to the point that they actually injure themselves, but if they continually overeat, they’re going to gain unhealthy amounts of weight and eventually become obese.
Other problems can result also, including the attraction of pests and predators and the spoilage of food due to exposure, and you definitely don’t want that.
Can You Overfeed Your Chickens?
Yes, you absolutely can! As mentioned above chickens will overeat, and in fact, have a tendency to do it if you give them too much food.
Except in the case that you give them a truly extreme amount, you’ll notice that no matter how much you feed your chickens, it all disappears down the hatch in very short order, and then they’ll usually go pecking around looking for choice bits that got dropped, or a juicy bug.
You cannot always depend on the behavior of your chickens to tell you when they are hungry and never when they’ve had enough. Feed your chickens based on their weight and special requirements, and stick with it.
How Many Kgs of Chicken Feed to Chickens Need Per Day?
For our international readers, chickens need 0.1 to 0.22 kilograms of food daily depending on the size of the breed.
How Much Food Should a Laying Hen Get?
Laying hens need extra food, and in proportion with how many eggs they are laying. Usually, this is about a ½ pound and sometimes a bit more for very large hens.
Whatever you’re feeding schedule is and however much feed you are giving them for their weight, give your hand at least one extra serving of food per day, and she might need two.
Also, note that hens particularly do better with several smaller feedings throughout the day rather than just two.
How Much Do Baby Chicks Need Daily?
Chicks don’t need nearly as much food as adult chickens daily, but they need a lot more by body weight. That’s because they are growing so fast!
Baby chicks need anywhere from 25 to 55 grams of food every day, and they need this spread across multiple, small feedings, at least five and preferably six. This usually equates to a feeding about every 2 hours while they’re awake.
As they grow and develop, you’ll need to slowly increase the amount of food that they get. Note that chicks need high-protein starter feed in order to thrive, and a formula that contains at least 18% protein.
Also remember that chicks don’t need any food for the first two days of their life, because they are sustained by the yolk which they absorb immediately prior to pipping and hatching.
Do Different Breeds Need Different Amounts of Food?
Yes, but this is only owing to greater or lesser size. Huge birds like Malays and Jersey Giants need a lot more food compared to Sebrights and other bantam breeds.
Likewise, remember also that most roosters, being slightly bigger than hens, need a little bit more food to support their greater size and musculature.
How Much Feed Do You Need for 6 Chickens?
Assuming you have six chickens of medium breed, each of them needing about a quarter pound of food daily, you’ll need 1 ½ pounds of feed every day. This translates to 10 ½ pounds of feed weekly, or 42 pounds a month.
How Much Food Do You Need for 12 Chickens?
If you have 12 chickens, assuming they are of medium breed and eat about a quarter pound of chicken feed every day, you’ll need 3 pounds of feed daily, 21 pounds of feed weekly, and 84 pounds of feed monthly.
Do Free-Range Chickens Need More or Less Food?
Free-range chickens, as a rule, need slightly less food daily because they’re getting at least some of their food from the environment, including choice bits of grass and plants, seeds, bugs, worms, and other stuff.
However, they generally still need supplementation in the form of feed and other whole foods to make sure their diet is nutritionally well-rounded and their caloric needs are being met.
Also, the quality of your property makes a difference: if your yard or land is bountiful with all sorts of varied plants and insect life, they can probably get by with significantly less food. Conversely, if it is barren, scarce, or lacks diversity, they will need more feed to compensate.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.