by Jeff Mattocks, author of Pastured Poultry Feeding and Management, and animal nutritionist at The Fertrell® Company.
" Sorry for the graphic picture (see below) but it makes a point. As I read post on this site and many other, I see quite a bit of inappropriate feeding methods.
1. Free choice feeding - allowing your birds to consume as much feed as they would like on a daily basis for their entire lives.
2. Free choice feeding combined with feeding treats like scratch, sunflower seeds, mealworms, etc.
3. Feeding a measured amount of feed and providing treats to keep your chickens friendly and so they like to see you.
I have been guilty of all three of these and some days do. But I have learned the hard way that too many calories per day is a bad thing. I have also learned the hard way that imbalanced nutrition leads to poor health and performance.
Many poultry feeds available on the market are nutritionally balanced to provide the daily nutritional requirement for most birds with 4 oz. per bird per day. 1 pound for every 4 birds. That doesn't mean 4 oz. of feed and scratch and treats on top of that. that is just more empty calories that will end up as stored fat. This stored fat gradually accumulates on the inside of your chicken until it looks like the picture attached.
Stored fat a.k.a. obesity (see illustration below) will reduce fertility, hatchability, and the ability to breed all together. It will also reduce the life span of the bird in general. Mostly, it will be a huge waste of your money.
Meanwhile, I see comparing feed prices, looking for lower cost of feed, or complaining about their feed bill. Take a look at how much you are feeding. is it too much? how much could you save by weighing or measuring out the right amount on a daily basis?
For me it was easy. I only weighed it once. I counted my chickens divided by 4, that's how many pounds they needed daily. Then we found a container that held precisely that amount of feed. Used that container everyday until it was worn out.
We had healthier birds, better production, better longevity and they were still happy to see us when we came to feed them.
I am not saying that an occasional (not daily) treat isn't a good thing. It will make you feel better and the chickens feel loved. Occasional is once or twice a week. it is also very small amounts as to not throw off their nutritional balance.
Enjoy your chickens longer and save a little money. Win - Win for everyone."
Reprinted with permission from Poultry Breeder Nutrition on Facebook.