Feeding your chickens depends on if they are free range or caged. If there is plenty of land available in a rural area and there is no fear of stray animals during the day, free range is best for a chicken. This way, they get all the natural ingredients they need to grow healthy and lay daily; including greenery, insects and even small pebbles or shells, etc.(to help them digest their food). This would also mean the cost of feeding them is free!
If you choose to let your chickens roam free, be sure to have a safe place for them to go at night where predators can not get to them. On the other hand, raising caged chickens would be better if it is in a more populated area or if there is not as much land available.
If you have your chickens caged, it would be best to feed them twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. For one dozen chickens, for example, approximately 1/2 lb. of food, twice a day, would suffice. Also, allow your chickens to do what they like best, scatter their food around their pen so they can scratch around for it.
There are a variety of chicken feed types to choose from. A few are chicken starter for baby chicks, chicken grower for adolescents and laying pellets for hens that are laying eggs. Different types have different ingredients for certain stages in the chickens’ life. Your local co-op or feed store would supply these types and many more. Sometimes knowing what feed to buy your chickens may actually depend on what they like. So, in some cases, there may be a little trial and error at first. Usually, though, this won’t be the case.
Caged chickens do get the chance of eating insects and greenery, but not as often as free range chickens. If you would like to go the extra mile, although not necessary, you can also give your chickens insects, grass or other greenery, every once in a while, as an extra treat.
Another difference between caged and free range chickens is that caged chickens usually do not have enough small pebbles or shells to eat within their pen. Eating small rocks and shells is mandatory for chickens to help them grind and digest their food. Therefore, feeding them oyster shells or small pebbles every once in a while is a must. Your local co-op or feed store should have these products available as well. Generally you can scatter about one pound of rocks or shells in their pen and it can lasts a couple of months.
When it comes to watering your chickens, the closer the water source is to their height, the better. The reason for this is because chickens have to lift their head back in order to swallow it. The best way to water your chickens would be to have a hanging bucket made especially for this. These buckets can be found, also, at your local co-op or feed store. However, if this is not available, simply get a container, that is nearly as tall as the chickens, and keep it full, or use a wide, shallow container and set it up off the ground on a sturdy surface.
For free range chickens, these watering tips would apply if there is no natural water source available. All in all, caring for your chickens is an easy, affordable task, with profit in return, whether it be harvesting your own eggs or chicks.