Chickens are reared for the purpose of eggs and they also make healthy food with a lot of protein and other essential vitamins and minerals. However, it is important to feed the chicks properly.
In this article, I will get to know some methods and approaches that may help us in getting the right answer to the question can you feed chickens on the ground? It also may perhaps help us to know what do chickens eat from the ground.
It’s perfectly fine to throw scrabs and treats on the ground, but you should feed the chicken’s main food off the ground. A tray or feeder will keep the food dry and free from stools and other contaminants.
A few things before I get started
Before I get started with the various things related to feeding chickens, I need to keep a few basic things in mind. To begin with, chicken in general and free-range chickens in particular, will not overeat. Therefore, in most cases, there is no risk of overfeeding them.
Hence, whether you feed them on the ground or through other means, they tend to eat only what is needed by them. Even if you keep extra pellets or grains, you can be sure that they will not empty out everything. Hence, this should go a long way in answering the question of what do chickens eat from the ground.
You should feed them only what they are ready to eat. Extra grains or pellets, if any should be collected and stored and should not be left on the ground or elsewhere. This will for sure attract pests like rodents and mice and you could have a big problem at hand.
Which is the best feeding method?
There are many questions that come to the minds of chicken owners. They have many different feeding methods in their mind and they would like to know which option is the best. Experts and those with experience always believe that chickens should be fed off the ground.
This may sound a bit new and perhaps even odd. If you look at some old movies, you may come across chickens being hand-fed as the owners toss corn and other food items to the chickens.
While the above image may look picturesque, I should keep in mind that the circumstances could be different. Chickens may have different behavioural patterns. For example, some chickens may not be free-range. In other words, they may be kept in a small range of space and their movement could be restricted and confined.
They could be living in their droppings. Hence, you have to keep these things in mind when deciding as to the best option when it comes to feeding chickens. I need to also bear in mind that throwing feed on the ground for chickens bearing reared in a coop is a completely different cup of tea.
It is not the same as tossing a few corns here and there for those who have run off the yard.
The risk of illnesses should be kept in mind
When one mixes feed with droppings and if you are not careful about it, you could be exposing the chickens to sicknesses and illnesses. Many chickens fall ill and are exposed to the risk of different types of parasitic infections, coccidiosis and other types of illnesses.
While treating a few of these infections may be possible, in many cases it could lead to large scale death of these wonderful birds. Hence, in many situations, it may be a good idea to make use of feeders, trays or even a dish that is convenient. These are considered safe and intelligent ways of feeding your chickens.
It will help them to meet their hunger and nutritional requirements. More importantly, it also could help them to stay away from feeding their own faeces.
However, if the feeding area on the ground is cleaned regularly, it may not be a bad idea to feed them on the ground. But this could be a good idea only if the chickens have enough space to move around.
Otherwise, as suggested above using a dish or feeder could be the best option. The type of feed that is used could also have a bearing on the method of feeding. Some types of feeds may not be good enough for feeling on the ground and this should always be kept in mind.
Which feeds are considered healthy?
While chickens love a variety of foods, when it comes to healthy eating and nutrition, there are a few feeds that are considered to be the best. I am listing down a few of them for the benefit of our readers.
Worms are considered to be one of the most favourites feeds for chickens. They love them a lot and they are also quite rich as far as nutrition is concerned. However, it may not be possible to always feed worms to chickens on the ground. They often get mixed with dirt and mud and this could make them risky from the health point of view. Therefore, if you are planning to feed worms to the chickens, it would be better to use a dish or a feeder.
Porridge is another favourite food for chickens, though they prefer to enjoy this only during the winter months. Porridge is always semi-solid and therefore it is quite obvious that it has to be fed in a bowl or dish. Feeding porridge to chickens of the ground is simply not possible because of obvious reasons.
Apple cores, grains and cereals are also considered to be stapled diets as far as chickens are concerned. These are easy to feed and there is nothing wrong if these are spread over the ground. However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to make sure that the entire area is clean and totally free from bird and chicken droppings.
Importance of correct feed
While the method of feed is vital and critical, equally important is the need to make sure that the feed is right in terms of nutrition, freshness, quantity and quality. If the diet or food is not right, it could lead to many problems. It could result in reduced egg production.
The size of the eggs could be small or they also could be abnormally shaped. You also could find the chickens restless and they could be seen feather picking.
Hence, it is important for us to bear in mind that you should plan your feed properly and choose the right method keeping in mind the habitation of the chickens. Further, the frequency of feeding, the feeding types and other such things are also important considerations that should never be lost sight of.