Livestock - Feeding Chickens


Feeding Chickens

  • Chickens need a balanced diet of proteincarbs, vitamins, and minerals
    • protein is particularly important for growing chickens and for producing eggs.
  • a good layer will stop producing as many eggs if she doesn't have enough protein in her diet.
  • free-ranging hen will be good at finding protein by foraging for meaty insects such as worms, slugs, and snails.
    • but lots of hens will not have the ability to find those insects daily so need to feed that has all nutrition the hen needs
  • the type of feed given to chickens are dictated by their age.
    • from hatching to 5 weeks old they will be fed chick crumbs
      • roughly 19% protein, and suitable for chicks
    • from 6 weeks to 18 weeks, they are known as pullets.
      • they are given growers pellets or growers mash
        • typically has 15-16% protein
        • need more protein as they are growing
    • when they start to lay eggs, laying hens need to be fed layers pellets or layers mash
      • has 15-17% protein
        • this helps them lay eggs regularly


1 of 8

How much feed do chickens need?

  • Chickens will need to have a constant supply of food throughout the day.
  • Chickens will eat when they need it and should go to bed with a full crop as they need lots of food to produce eggs.
  •  Fully grown chickens eat about 120 grams of layers pellets per day
  • Check feeders every day to make sure they are topped up
  •  It’s a good idea to have two feeders, one inside their coop run and one outside their run.
    • To prevent fighting
    • Will stop dominant chickens stopping chickens that are less dominant from getting their share of food.
2 of 8


  • Need to eat small stones to help digest their food.
  • Chickens don’t have teeth so swallow whatever they chose to eat whole.
  • Any grit they eat is used to grind up food in the gizzard.
  • When keeping chickens, it is important to provide grit as they may not be able to naturally find enough grit.
  • Grit with oyster shells is better as the oyster shells provide calcium which will help the chickens lay eggs with strong shells.
  • You can choose to feed a handful of grit within their food, or just provide grit form a separate feeder.
3 of 8


  • Chickens love corn and will come running for corn.
  • Corn is a way of taming chickens.
  • However, mixed corn is high in fat so should only be given as a treat, as an overweight chicken won’t lay as many eggs.
  • A handful of corn per hen scattered in plenty.
4 of 8

Chicken treats and greens

  • Chickens will eat most things that you give them (within reason)
  • They will enjoy pasta, green veggies, cereals, raisins, bananas.
    • Always make sure treats are freshly prepared.
  • Its nice to give them a treat but do make sure you are not giving them too many treats as they will fill up of treats and won’t eat the layers pellets.
  • Fat hens will not lay as many eggs.
5 of 8


  • Should always have access to fresh water.
  • Refresh water daily.
  • In hot weather keep the water in the shade and check it more often as chickens won't drink hot water.
  • In very cold weather check their water more often as it will freeze over.
6 of 8

Plants and Foods that are poisonous to chickens.

  • Onions: if fed in large quantities they can cause anaemia or jaundice, and sometimes it can be fatal. This is because it contains thiosulphate which destroys red blood cells.
  • Avocados: avocados contain the toxin persin. This has been associated with myocardial necrosis, which is where the heart stops working, as the tissues of the heart are killed.
  • Apple seeds: the seeds contain cyanide which can kill chickens. Any other part of the apple is fine, so when giving them apple ensure they are seed free.
  • Citrus fruit: can cause a drop in egg production. Moderation is okay.
  • Dried, raw beans: uncooked beans contain hemagglutinin which can be toxic to chickens, but cooked beans are fine.
  • Chocolate or sweet things: chocolate contains a toxin called methylxanthines theobromine. Just like too much sugar is bad for humans, too much sugar can cause your chickens to be overweight leading to a drop in egg production.
  • Salty foods: chickens can suffer from salt poisoning, as they don’t naturally ingest a lot of salt.
  • Mouldy food: mouldy food should never be fed to chickens as the mould can cause illness and may be fatal. Overripe, wilted vegetables, or stale bread can be fed.
7 of 8

Things to consider

  • Treats such as bread, cereals and pasta have little nutritional value and can cause chickens to be overweight.
  • Dairy products and too much iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhoea.
  • Chickens must not be fed food that has been prepared in a kitchen with any other animal products.
8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Other resources:

See all Other resources »See all Animal Management resources »