How Much Feed per Chicken? (And How Often Should You Be Feeding Hens & Other Chickens?)

How Much Feed Should I Give My Chickens?

Below is a simple guide on the amounts of food you should be feeding your laying hens, chicks, pullets, roosters, and broiler chickens daily (based on age).

But before we start talking about pounds of feed, please note that it’s recommended that you give your chickens a little more feed than you think they would eat. Over time, you’ll get a feel for the amount of feed your chickens need.

If you’re constantly finding leftover feed in the feeder at the end of the day, you can always give them a little less feed the next day.

Trust me, you’ll get to know how much your chickens eat pretty quickly.

How Much Feed Does a Layer Chicken Eat Per Day?

Once chickens start laying eggs or are 18 weeks old (whichever comes first), the average hen needs about 1/4 lb (pound) of layer feed (Amazon) a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups a day. Consumption of a high-quality layer feed is crucial for a hen’s body to stay healthy and produce quality eggs.

Of course, this is just a rule of thumb!

There really isn’t a hard rule on how much to feed your layers because it depends on the breed, how active they are, and the season. Your hens might need a little less or a little more than 1/4 lb of chicken feed per day.

How Much Feed Does a Chick & Pullet Eat Per Week?

A chick (0 to 8 weeks old) will eat around 3/4 to 1 lb of chick starter (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) a week, which is between 2 1/4 cups and 3 cups a week.

Add to this amount gradually as the chicken grows bigger. A pullet (8 to around 18 weeks old) will eat about 1 1/2 lb a week, which is about 4 1/2 cups a week.

Pullets should be fed a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.

I’ve always let my chicks and pullets eat whatever amount of feed they want because they won’t overeat. I think chicks drink way more water than they eat food.

Medicated vs Unmedicated Feed

If your chicks have been given the coccidiosis vaccine, do not feed them medicated starter feed (Amazon). The amprolium in the medicated feed, which helps protect chicks against coccidiosis, will make the coccidiosis vaccine ineffective.

Give them unmedicated chick starter (Amazon) instead.

How Much Feed Does a Rooster Eat Per Day?

Typically, the average adult rooster needs approximately 1/4 lb of chicken feed a day, which is roughly 3/4 cups a day. However, I’ve had big roosters that would sometimes eat much more than this amount because they were active in foraging and protecting hens all day long.

Please Note: Roosters need feed that contains less calcium (Amazon) compared to what egg-laying hens need. Do not feed them layer feed.

How Much Feed Does a Broiler Chicken Eat Per Day?

Broilers (chickens raised for meat) require a higher-level protein feed (Amazon) for maximum growth (approx. 19%-24%).

Most people raising meat birds will suggest feeding them 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.

How Many Times a Day Should You Feed Chickens?

Chickens like to eat often and in small portions.

So, I personally believe that the best feeding method is to free-feed my chickens. This means having chicken feed available for them to eat all day long. (Mind you, I live off-grid in the middle of nowhere, and my chickens have plenty of bugs to chase after. So they’re pretty busy and active 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).

Free-Feeding & Pests

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.

Conclusion: How Much Do You Feed Chickens?

As a general rule of thumb, you should provide 1/4 pound of feed per adult chicken each day.

However, there are a few factors that can affect feed intake:

  • It turns out that the amount of food a chicken needs to eat each day is directly related to its size. Larger chicken breeds will need more food than smaller breeds, simple as that.
  • If you’re feeding a chicken a high-quality, complete commercial feed that has a variety of ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals, it will eat less food than if you were feeding it a lower-quality feed. The same goes if you’re making homemade mash, which is a type of feed that is made up of a combination of grains, seeds, legumes, sometimes bread, and other foods. The mash is usually mixed with water or milk to create a thick mixture. Mash might lack the nutrition chickens need if you don’t make it properly, so high-quality commercial feeds are worth the price to keep your family farm satisfied.
  • 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.
  • If you give your chickens too many treats, like chicken scratch (Amazon), they won’t be eating as much feed. This also means they might not be getting the nutrients they need to be healthy (If you’re going to give them treats, including table scraps, make sure it’s not more than 10% of their total diet.)
  • It’s very important that chickens have access to poultry grit (Amazon) or chick grit (Amazon) if anything other than commercial feed is offered.
  • If you have egg-laying hens, then you definitely want to make sure they have enough calcium in their diet which is essential for egg production. You can give your chickens calcium in the form of crushed oyster shells (Amazon). But don’t mix the oyster shells with the chicken feed. Oyster shells should be served free-choice, in a separate dish, so the laying hens will eat only what they need.
  • Another thing to keep an eye on when you are feeding your flock is to make sure the most dominant chickens 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 (Amazon Best Sellers) to prevent bullying when feeding backyard chickens.

I suggest that you don’t stock up on bags of feed. Only buy what your chickens can consume in the next couple of weeks. This is so the feed doesn’t go stale, which can happen fast enough. (Of course, the feed will last long in cold weather.)

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