How Many Eggs Does A 3 Year Old Chicken Lay Feeding Recommendations For Free-Range Poultry

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Feeding Recommendations For Free-Range Poultry

Feeding recommendations for free range backyard birds are much different than they were “back in the day”. In the old days, feeding recommendations for free-range poultry varied from farm to farm.

Free range chickens were fed table scraps from the kitchen table, whole or ground corn and anything else they could catch such as rodents, bugs and whatever else they could run down. They also roamed the farm and at mealtime would pick up dropped grain from the feed troughs of the cows, horses, etc. They could also be counted on to clean up any scraps left in those animals’ feed tubs.

But the dietary recommendations for free range poultry were not set in stone as farmers were happy with however many eggs their hens produced. Usually a young hen could be counted on to produce 5 or 6 eggs each week. In those days, hens usually started laying around February and would stop sometime around October or November. On average, a hen would lay 145 days a year and not the 310 days a year that is expected now.

But times have changed and even pastured or free-range chickens are fed a feed based on soy and corn, unless they are raised as organic chickens. In order for hens to lay 310 days a year, they have to be fed grain so they have enough energy to lay that many eggs. That’s why the eggs you get in the store are generally not as tasty and the color of the yolk is much lighter than those of the tiny farmed chickens.

The feeding recommendations for free-range chickens raised by the small farmer or breeder call for the chickens to be free-range as much as possible. During the summer months, the chickens will eat bugs, clovers, any flowers they like and vegetables from the garden. I make sure to plant extra cherry tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and anything else they would like. They will happily eat the tops of the carrot plants, pull beans out of the ground and if I can protect them long enough, they will eat the green beans right off the plants. They also decided they loved pumpkins and decimated my crop. They will also eat almost any fruit I put out for them, including watermelons, cantaloupe, etc.

In winter, feed is not as readily available for them and I supplement their pelleted feed with vegetables and fruits from the grocery store. It’s not so ideal but they love it.

I also recommend that you feed them a pelleted feed as it is unlikely that your free range chickens will be able to consume enough vegetation and bugs to get the right amount of protein to be able to lay eggs regularly.

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