How Much To Feed Chickens per Day for a Healthy Diet (Daily Amount of Food Chicks, Egg-Laying Hens, Roosters, & Broilers Need To Eat; in Cups, Kg, & Lbs)

How Much To Feed Chickens per Day? (Daily Amount in Cups, Lbs, & Kg)

How Much Feed Does a Layer Chicken Eat per Day? (Lbs / Kg / Cups)

The average egg-laying hen needs about 1/4 lbs (0.11 kg) of layer feed (Amazon) a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups.

Of course, this is just a rule of thumb!

There really isn’t a hard rule on how much to feed your egg-laying hens because it depends on the breed, how active they are, and the season. Your chickens might need a little less or a little more than 3/4 cup of chicken feed per day.

At first, you really want to aim at giving your chickens MORE feed than you think they would eat. Over time, you’ll get a feel for how much feed your chickens need.

If you’re constantly finding a ton of feed in the feeder at the end of the day, you can always give them a little less feed. Trust me, you’ll get to know how much your chickens eat pretty quickly.

How Much Food Per Rooster Daily? (Lbs / Kg / Cups)

The average rooster needs about 1/4 lbs (0.11 kg) of layer feed a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups. But they need feed that contains more protein and less calcium (Amazon) than what egg-laying hens need.

How Much Feed Should Chicks Eat a Week? (Lbs / Kg / Cups)

Chicks eat about 3/4 to 1 lbs (0.34 to 0.45 kg) of chick starter feed (Amazon) a week, or 2 1/4 cups – 3 cups. Chicks drink way more water than they eat food).

I’ve always let my chicks eat whatever amount of feed they want because they won’t overeat.

See below for more information on what kind of feed chicks should be eating.

What Amount of Feed Should I Give My Broiler Chickens Daily?

Personally, I’ve never owned broilers (chickens raised for meat). But I’ve heard time and time again that most chicken keepers give their meat birds unlimited feed 24/7 for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

Then, after this period, they should be given unlimited feed for 12 hours and then go without feed for the next 12 hours. You do this until they’re ready to be culled.

See below for more information on what kind of feed broilers should be eating.

How Often Should I Feed My Chickens Everyday?

I personally believe that the best feeding method is to free-feed your chickens. This means having chicken feed available for them to eat all day long.

If you don’t want to free-feed your chickens or if you’re away from home during the day, you can feed them once in the morning and then again in the evening (before they roost for the night).

If you’re going to free-feed your chickens, you might run into a problem with pests. Birds, squirrels, rats, and other pests will probably try to get a free meal from the chicken feed.

To fix this problem, I use automatic poultry treadle feeders (Amazon) to make sure only my chickens eat the feed.

These types of feeders might seem a little expensive at first, but you save so much money in the long run since you’re not feeding every wild animal in the neighborhood.

Can You Feed Your Chickens Too Much Food?

Chickens like to eat often and in small portions.

Free-range chickens usually won’t overeat, so you probably won’t have to worry about them becoming overweight if they’re getting exercise by free-ranging and foraging.

Just make sure you don’t feed them too many treats (more on this below).

You can use the free-feeding method for all types of chickens, with the exception of broiler chickens (meat birds).

Common Problems with a Chicken’s Diet

Eating the Wrong Chicken Feed (Improper Diet)

Feeding your chickens the proper feed ensures that they’re getting vital nutrients. Chicken feed is even more important if your chickens don’t have much outdoor space because they won’t be able to get minerals and salt from the ground.

PLEASE make sure you get the right type of feed for your chickens. For example:

  • 0 to 6 Weeks Old (Chicks): Their diet should contain around 18-20% protein. You should feed them some kind of chick starter (Amazon).
  • 6 to around 16 to 20 Weeks Old (Pullets): Their diet should contain around 18% protein. You should feed them some kind of high-quality pullet grower (Amazon) until they start laying. (Sometimes you can find feed that’s good for both chicks and pullets, often called “starter grower” or “start & grow” feed).
  • 18-20 Weeks or Above (Egg-Layers): Once chickens start laying eggs, they require around 16% protein in their feed. You should feed your hens layer feed (Amazon) to help them in their egg-laying. (Don’t feed this to your non-laying hens).
  • Broiler Chickens (Chickens Raised for Meat): These types of chickens require a higher-level protein feed (Amazon) for maximum growth (approx. 22%-25%). Most meat bird raisers will suggest offering meat birds unlimited feed 24/7 for the first 2-3 weeks and then 12 hours with feed and 12 hours without afterward until they reach slaughter weight.

I suggest that you only buy as much feed as you think your chickens will eat within a couple of weeks. This is so the feed doesn’t go stale.

Storing feed in a cool place and in a closed container, like a galvanized steel can with a locking lid (Amazon), slows the rate at which it gets stale.

You can stretch the storage time during cold weather.

Low-Quality Chicken Feed

I’m all about saving money. But, years ago, I made my first big mistake as a chicken keeper…

… I bought cheap, low-quality feed.

I first noticed my chickens weren’t laying many eggs. Then I noticed that the cheaper food was actually costing me more money in the long run because my chickens needed to eat more low-quality feed just to get the nutrients they needed.

Lesson learned!

Cold Seasons = More Daily Food

Chickens will eat more in the fall when they need extra protein to regrow feathers during the molting season.

They’ll also eat more during the winter months when they require extra energy to stay warm. Plus, in the winter, they’re not foraging as much so they can’t supplement their diet with seeds, plants, worms, and insects.

So remember to increase the amount of feed you give them during fall and winter.

They Need Fresh Water Everyday

One important thing to know as a chicken keeper is that you won’t get any eggs if your hens are dehydrated. Chickens need access to CLEAN water throughout the day.

Most basic chicken waterers with a no-roost top (Amazon) will do just fine during the warmer seasons. No-roost top waterers are my favorite because it keeps my chickens from roosting and pooping in their water.

Another issue I had, during cold winter days, was that my chickens’ water kept on freezing. Since I didn’t have the time to check the water every few hours, I got a no-roost heated waterer (Amazon). I’ve only had it for two winters, but it saves me from obsessively checking to see if my chickens’ water is frozen.

Feeding Them Too Many Treats

I know we love to spoil our chickens, but too many treats are just as bad for them!

If you give your chickens too many treats, they won’t be eating as much feed and won’t get the nutrients they need to be healthy and happy.

If you’re going to give them treats, including table scraps, make sure it’s not more than 10% of their total diet.

Another recommendation is that you only give treats after they’ve had their feed in the morning, so they won’t fill up on treats.

I like to throw chicken scratch on the ground so they can have fun foraging (it makes them extremely happy). They also LOVE their mealworm treats (Amazon).

Hens, Eggs & Calcium Deficiency

If you have egg-laying hens, then you definitely want to make sure they have enough calcium in their diet. A lack of calcium can mean that they will lay eggs with thin or no shells at all.

You can give your chickens calcium supplements (Amazon) in a variety of ways. The easiest way I find is to give them oyster shells (Amazon) specifically processed for chickens.

Just be careful not to mix the oyster shells with the chicken feed. Oyster shells should be served on the side so the laying-hens will eat only what they need. Too much calcium is dangerous.

Also, calcium supplements shouldn’t be fed to non-laying hens.

Chickens Need To Eat Grit

It’s very important that chickens have access to poultry grit (Amazon) if anything other than commercial feed is offered.

Grit is the term for tiny stones. Chickens keep it in their gizzards to help them grind up the food they forage.

Free-ranging chickens can get enough grit naturally if they have access to soil. But confined chickens, including chicks in brooders, should be given grit if they’re given treats.

Make sure that the grit is the appropriate size for the age of the chicken (read the packaging carefully). Chicks need chick grit (Amazon), which is finer than grit given to older chickens.

Greedy Chickens May Be Hogging the Food

All flocks of chickens have a pecking order. This means that there are dominant chickens and subordinate chickens.

One thing to keep an eye on when you are feeding your hens is to make sure the most dominant hens don’t eat all the food. If this is becoming an issue consider feeding the weaker birds on their own to ensure they get some food.

But it’s always a good idea to have a few feeders and waterers to prevent bullying when feeding backyard chickens.

Summary: How Much Do Chickens Eat Every Day?

  • At first, you really want to aim at giving your chickens MORE feed than you think they would eat. Over time, you’ll get a feel for how much feed your chickens need.
  • The average egg-laying hen needs about 1/4 lbs (0.11 kg) of layer feed (Amazon) a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups.
  • The average rooster needs about 1/4 lbs (0.11 kg) of layer feed a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups. But they need feed that contains more protein and less calcium (Amazon) than what egg-laying hens need.
  • Chicks eat about 3/4 to 1 lbs (0.34 to 0.45 kg) of chick starter feed (Amazon) a week, or 2 1/4 cups – 3 cups. Chicks drink way more water than they eat food).
  • Most chicken keepers give their meat birds unlimited feed (Amazon) 24/7 for the first 2 to 3 weeks. Then they should be given unlimited feed for 12 hours and then go without feed for the next 12 hours until they’re culled.
  • I personally believe that the best feeding method is to free-feed your chickens. This means having chicken feed available for them to eat all day long.
  • If you don’t want to free-feed your chickens or if you’re away from home during the day, you can feed them once in the morning and then again in the evening (before they roost for the night).
  • Chickens will eat more in the fall when they need extra protein to regrow feathers during the molting season. They’ll also eat more during the winter months when they require extra energy to stay warm.
  • If you have egg-laying hens, then you definitely want to make sure they have enough calcium in their diet. I like giving my hens daily access to crushed oyster shells (Amazon).
  • It’s very important that chickens have access to poultry grit (Amazon) if anything other than commercial feed is offered. Chicks need chick grit (Amazon), which is finer than grit given to older chickens.
  • But it’s always a good idea to have a few feeders and waterers to prevent bullying when feeding backyard chickens.