Backyard chickens are becoming quite popular these days. Getting your own flock can be pretty eggciting! However, as with any other animal, first-time bird owners often have lots to learn. At the top of the list? Nutrition! A Greater Cincinnati vet discusses feeding chickens below.
It may take a bit of trial and error to sort out exactly how much food your birds need. Free-range chickens usually ‘graze’ all day, and won’t need as much as cooped-up birds. Chickens also don’t normally overindulge themselves. If you give them too much, they’ll just leave the extra uneaten. Unfortunately, the leftovers will soon attract mice, rats, and other critters. Remove leftovers immediately.
Commercial food will make up a chunk of your birds’ diet. These will usually contain grains, such as wheat, oats, and maize, as well as things like salt and sunflower seeds. You can find all-purpose chicken feed, but it’s best to select a food that is specifically made for the type of chickens you have. For example, pullets have different needs than adult birds. Egg layers, on the other hand, need a lot of calcium.
Chickens need fresh water to stay healthy. In winter, you’ll need to make sure the water doesn’t freeze. We recommend get a heated waterer.
Chickens are fairly versatile, and will adjust to whatever schedule you use. That gives you some flexibility. For example, if you’re home most of the day, you can just throw out handfuls of grain here and there. If you work shifts, feed them in the mornings and evenings.
Treats are great for training, gaining trust, and just making your birds happy. Chickens can eat many people foods, such as apples, bananas, broccoli, and pumpkin. Mealworms are also a big favorite. Just always double check to be sure something is safe. Some unsafe foods include chocolate; alcohol; avocados; rhubarb; garlic; onions; scallions; and anything high in salt, sugar, or fat. Ask your vet for more information.
Birds will always develop a hierarchy. This is something to pay attention to, because sometimes the bossier birds don’t let the weaker ones eat. If you see any bullying, you may need to feed some of the chickens separately.
Do you have questions about caring for your chickens? Give us a call! As your local vet clinic, we provide ‘eggcellent’ veterinary care!