To keep your hens in good shape, a varied and balanced diet will play a vital role. The quality of eggs laid and feeding are also closely related.
The basic diet, on top of all that your hens will find in the garden, must consist of a mixture of cereals: soft wheat, barley, oats, corn… You will find whole mixtures in commercial sites. You can also distribute whole pellets, corresponding to the different life periods of your hens. There are “growth” and “laying” pellets corresponding to each period of your chicken’s life.
Household waste management, which is constantly increasing, is a problem that concerns us all. Raising a few chickens will allow you to significantly reduce the volume of your organic waste, as a hen can consume nearly 150kg of it per year!
You can enhance their meals with ripe fruits such as bananas, pears and melon, strawberries, tomatoes, and vegetables: salads, endives, dandelions, carrot tops, radishes… You can also distribute freshly cut grass from the garden. The peelings of your unprocessed fruits and vegetables can be given but it is not what they prefer. Avoid raw potatoes and citrus fruits.
It will be necessary to make sure to remove all the remains that the end of the day, so you avoid attracting pests (rats, mice, insects), but also avoid digestive disorders related to fermented foods. Hens are ready to eat almost anything you have to offer (rest of pizza, caramel cream, roast chicken carcass…). Even if you can give them some leftovers they will love (rice, paste, salad), make sure however that they do not become ‘leftover bins’; their health could suffer.
To supplement the feeding of your hens, you can distribute complementary foods in their drinking water, that will meet the specific needs of these animals during periods of high production (growing, laying, reproduction). Laying hens have high calcium and micronutrient requirements to make eggshells. The provision of complementary foods will limit their risk of deficiencies and fatigue.
A hen drinks an average of 10% of its body weight per day. It must be ensured that sufficient clean water is always available (think of the strong periods of heat). The water change should be done daily and thorough cleaning of the watering trough once a week.