Getting the most from your poultry feed

Like many smallholders, you have spent time ensuring that you provide your flock with a well-balanced nutritional feed to support them through their lives. What can be overlooked though is the importance of managing feed correctly to support the health of your flock – here are some top tips:

Smallholder Feeds
Smallholder Poultry
Getting most out of poultry feed

Feeding schedule

Keep the same feeding routine every day. Start by letting your hens out as early as possible in the morning. Fill feed hoppers and drinkers before the hens emerge, then wait for all birds to leave the house – this is a good opportunity to spot birds in poor health – watch out for potential problems such as a bunched stance, bullying or feather pecking.

Try to allow feed hoppers to regularly be eaten down in order that any fines or debris can be cleared from the feeder, and make sure that clean feed is always present for birds to fill their crops before roosting at night.

Feed storage

It is crucial to find a storage solution which keeps your poultry feed in the best condition. We recommend that feed should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place – avoiding moisture, sun and rodents. The container needs to be watertight and if you use metal storage, keep the feed in its bag unless the metal is food-safe with a non-reactive liner. Properly stored feed should then last for around three months from opening.

Drinkers, feeders and hygiene

Drinkers should be filled with fresh water daily and cleaned thoroughly. Bugs and germs can quickly develop in unwashed, dirty drinkers, causing no end of problems. Galvanised feeders are a good option for outdoor use as they are hardwearing and durable whilst being unaffected by sunlight and resistant to strong winds.

The right nutrition for your flock

When selecting a feed make sure you consider the size and life stage of your hens. For example, Bantams and younger birds will have palatability issues with normal size pellets due to their small beaks and oesophagus. This makes it difficult for them to swallow bigger or longer pellets. Bantams will also have smaller appetites so ensuring each mouthful gives them the right nutritional balance is even more important. If you are looking to change the feed of your smaller chicken, a fully balanced short cut pellet would be a great choice.