I've always chosen to
toss my chickens'
daily allotment on
the ground for a number of reasons. Primarily, I want to give
them a measured amount, but I really got in the habit when our chickens
lived in tractors. I thought having to
hunt through the grass to find bits of feed could give our hens
something constructive to do all day.
However, my brother let
me know that his new
eating less when he put the feed in a container. He still gave
them a daily allotment, but realized that he was actually feeding them
a bit too much since they left food behind. Since we'd recently
upgraded to gourmet
chicken feed, we
thought the higher quality feed might mean our chickens needed
less. So I asked Mark to build
me a simple trough
to go in the coop, then watched to see what happened.
At first, I wasn't even sure
if the hens had figured out where their grub was now being
served. They barely seemed to touch the food and I got worried
they were starving. So I started giving them their food scraps
next to the trough, and snuck in early one morning to see that yes, the
hens were eating from their new container. (Also, egg production
stayed high, which was a real tipoff that the chickens were still well
Our girls were clearly
eating much less out of the
trough. (Or, rather, the sparrows were probably getting less
leftover feed.) I already feed our chickens less than the
recommended daily allowance due to our pastures, but
I think I've been overfeeding anyway. I'll be slowly cutting back
on my feeding amount until there's no grain left in the trough at the
end of the day and will report back once I know how much our hens
actually need to eat on pasture.
Even if you restrict their
rations, chickens should always have access to copious amounts of clean
water. The Avian Aqua Miser is the obvious solution to
the dirty water problem.
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