Before you decide to purchase chickens and begin your own backyard chicken operation, it is important for you to understand how much feed laying hens need to stay healthy. Feeding your chickens a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet is a daily part of caring for them. Hens who do not receive enough feed will not be healthy or lay eggs on a regular basis.
Feed Per Day
On average, a laying hen will require approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of feed every day, or roughly 1.5 pounds of feed per week according to Nutrena Feeds. At this rate of consumption, every hen you have will require slightly less than 10 pounds of feed each month, regardless of whether or not she is actively producing any eggs. Hens who are producing eggs may require slightly more grain than those who are not.
Free Range Hens
Hens who have access to the outdoors will find some of their own food, selecting choice bugs, seeds, grasses and various bits of nature to supplement their diets. These hens are considered to be free range hens. Such hens will not eat as much commercial feed as they would if they were not allowed outdoors. You still should provide free range hens with daily feedings to make sure that they are getting enough feed, but do not be surprised if some of the feed is left over after your hens eat.
Laying hens typically do not overeat and will eat only as much feed as they need to maintain good health. If you are unsure if your hens are getting enough feed, you always can feed them slightly more feed and see if any is left over. Your chickens should eat their feed in a relaxed and friendly manner, rather than behaving as if feeding time is a feeding frenzy. If your chickens are acting very hungry when you feed them and no feed is ever left over, then you probably need to be providing more feed on a daily basis.
Nutrena feeds estimates that you will need 9 to 10 pounds of feed to get each of your layer chicks to the age of 10 weeks old. By the time your layer hen has reached maturity at 5 months of age, she will have consumed approximately 20 pounds of feed.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.