“I have 3 layers which my husband and I enjoy tremendously. The one question is how to keep them from wasting so much feed. They throw it out of the feeder, which is hanging on the side of their pen. Otherwise they are doing wonderful and love being out.” ~ Sue Cripe
Sue thanks for the question.
There are a couple of thing you can do to help prevent, or at least cut down on wasted feed; you’ve already taken care of the first one. Whenever you have feed in a container on the ground, your chickens will likely scratch in it and kick quite a bit out onto the ground.
At one point we temporarily separated a number of our chickens from the rest of the flock.
We didn’t have an extra feeder available so we chose to use a plastic dish pan for this temporary situation. As soon as feed was placed in the pan, the chickens hopped in and started scratching in it. Needless to say, we lost a lot of feed that way.
Feeders are made to be suspended off the ground in some way. This keeps the chickens from scratching the feed out onto the ground. If you make your own feeder, it is helpful to make it in such a way that you can suspend it. At the very least, may I suggest that you raise the feeder on bricks or some such thing so that it is not too high for the chickens to reach the food, but high enough that they can’t scratch at it.
A second suggestion to keep feed from being wasted would be to feed just enough food that it lasts for ½ hour and then is gone.
If you do this in the morning and in the afternoon, old timers say that your chickens will have enough to eat but will not have extra to waste. One word of caution here would be that if you have any birds low in the pecking order that do not seem to be able to get any food until the others are done. In that case, these poor birds might not get enough to eat.
This technique will cause your chickens to spend more time eating their food and less time playing with it.
This is typically the case when they scoop it up into their mouths and throw it out onto the ground. Because the amount of food is limited, they’ll learn to make better use of the feed they have and the amount of time it is available.
It’s important to note that although your chickens do not need free access to food at all times, they do need to have fresh, clean water continuously available. Even a short period without water will have detrimental effects.
My last suggestion pertains to the form of feed they are receiving.
As your chickens get closer to reaching maturity, they no longer need “crumble”. If you feed “pellets” rather than “crumble”, they will pick the feed up off the ground and eat it if they’re hungry. That way, if they insist on throwing feed out of their feeder, you don’t need to worry about it being wasted.
Finally, chickens get into trouble when they’re bored.
Sometimes they’ll engage in this wasteful habit because it’s interesting, or at least it’s something to do. If your flock has plenty to keep them occupied, they’ll be less likely to play with their food out of boredom.
Sue I hope this has been helpful and wish you the best of luck with your flock.