Feeding 9 week old blue australorp hen


Feeding 9 week old blue australorp hen: We already had acquired a rose comb bantam who happily free-ranges and is fed no more than a 1/4 cup of poultry grain mix first thing in the morning and usually again mid-late afternoon.

She seems OK with this (had started to lay but, as a separate issue, has recently stopped again).
The other night we brought home a 9 wk old Australorp hen.

She was still on a mix of mash and grains. The previous owner said she'd be fine with a grain mix.

So we started to feed her at the same time as the bantam but put more out. Today was her first day free-ranging (has no real idea what is food & what's not by the look of things....she learned today dog's teats are not food! that was amusing!).

She does seems to be starving though. When I offer extra seed, she absolutely hoovers it. I am frightened of both under-feeding and over-feeding her seed (and she is supposed to learn to free-range too).

We are new to this (we haven't even had the bantam that long). I have googled but can not find anything to tell me what 'quantity' of food she should be having.

Tonight when I put them to bed she wouldn't settle (still pacing & chirping at 7.15pm) so I offered bread soaked in bit of milk.

She ate off my finger ok but didn't take it out of the dish herself. Was happy to be cuddled (sounded like crooning and closed her eyes).

Confused as to whether she was hungry for food or company (she is locked in same cage as the bantam, but because I am new I have put her in carry cage for the evening within the big cage, because she wouldn't perch).

Would love some insight if you can help at all!

I personally don’t believe you can over feed a free range chicken, nor do you have to teach them to free range.

One of the things I love about chickens is that they are filled with so many wonderful natural instincts; no matter the breed.

Caged chickens, having little if any exercise, and things to do may over eat out of boredom. From your description, you might be underfeeding by limiting the amount of feed.

It also sounds like you have young birds that should be on a good grower or chick start diet because those are richer in nutrients for growing good healthy bones, muscles, feathers and organs.

I believe that chickens, especially young, should have free access to food and water at all times.

A free ranging chicken is getting good exercise and the best variety of foods. Once full grown, you can encourage free ranging by feeding at a certain time of day, like just before they roost for the night.

I like to keep my hens penned in their yard until afternoon, near their coop, as I don’t like egg hunts.

They have access to as much feed/water as they want, plus their yard has grasses and plants for them to nibble on and scratch through for bugs and seeds.

When the bulk of egg laying is done for the day I release them from the pen to truly free range until roosting time. The reason I have chickens is for the eggs.

If your reason for having your chickens is a bit different from mine, and they are your pets, you may choose and entirely different way of caring for them.

There is no one right way to go about this, but there generally are instructions on feed bags recommending the amount of that feed that is appropriate for the size and age chicken you are feeding.

The best way to know if you are feeding too much is when there is some left over. I love to see my chickens go to roost with a nicely packed crop that they will digest through the night.

Under feeding can lead to grumpiness and aggression towards other chickens and a host of potential health problems.

I can tell that you love your chickens and are doing everything you can think of to take good care of them.

Since chickens are blind at night they won’t eat or drink again until morning. I would highly recommend always letting them eat as much as they want in the evening.

Another thing to remember is that this time of year, even though free ranging, there isn’t a lot of good nutritious forage, unless you live in a sunny warm climate. Hope this helps!

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