Feed should be available at all times during daylight hours and is provided in a plastic or galvanized feeder. The ideal size for up to ten hens is 7 kg., which should be topped up with feed each day, and never left empty.
Laying birds thrive best on a good quality layers ration which will give a balanced diet; this can be supplemented with a handful of mixed corn in the afternoon which can be sprinkled in the grass to encourage the birds to forage. Always check the ‘use by’ date on feed bags before purchasing, and check for freshness, or signs of mould when open. Most manufacturers use a three month date, but some vitamins may start to deteriorate after a few weeks if not stored in the best conditions. Keep in a cool dry place, away from vermin and sunlight. A small plastic dustbin make an ideal vermin proof feed bin.
Don’t be tempted to give too much corn as this will reduce the consumption of layers pellets which provide a balanced diet. The intake of food will depend on the ambient temperature, the breed, age, and stage of the laying cycle. Given no stress or hindrance, the bird will naturally eat the correct amount, which will be between 120 and 150g per day, but the consumption of pellets depends on whether the hens are in-lay, or how much food they are finding by foraging. Any unusual drop in feed consumption could be a sign of illness.
Avoid giving household scraps, in particular, fatty or starchy foods, because this will reduce the intake of layers pellets, and cause the birds to become over weight which can result in death, and or, reduction in egg production. However, they can be given plenty of greens (whole cabbage or kale), and they love corn on the cob as a treat only.
Regularly check the body weight, and give extra feeders for birds at the bottom of the pecking order, or new birds being introduced. Allow a minimum of 4 cm of feed space per birds – ie. a 40 cm circumference feeder for ten birds.