Do you want to know what hens eat? In this Expert Animal article we will talk in detail about the feeding of the hens, but it is important to highlight that we focus on the hens understood as a companion animal and not as producers of meat or eggs. And this is the main problem when looking for food for them, since we can find that the commercial preparation is aimed at specific populations of layers or animals destined for slaughter.
To resolve the doubts in this regard, below, we explain which foods are recommended and which are dangerous. Read on and find out what the hens eat in this complete guide to feeding the hens, don’t forget to leave your comments!
Eat the hens
Before detailing what hens eat, it is important that we know the peculiarity of their digestive system. Lacking teeth, these birds have an organ called gizzard. It houses small stones and gravel that help grind the food that the chicken will eat almost whole. At this point it is important where the chickens live. If they have an outside space they themselves will consume enough grit for the operation of their gizzard. On the other hand, if they lack this possibility or are still small to go outside, we will have to add this mineral component. We can buy it in specialized stores and just sprinkle it on your food.
The veterinary food industry has made it easy for us to feed the chickens. Today, it is enough to buy directly a suitable preparation for chickens, which, in addition, has specialized according to its vital moment. Thus, if we ask ourselves what the laying hens eat, for sale we will find a specific food for them. The same can apply if we are interested in knowing what organic hens eat. With the adjective of organic we mean those birds fed with organic products, where possible, without transgenics or drugs that increase their growth or fattening.
Anyway, these terms of layers or organic are used for production hens, which is not going to be the case of our company hen . All hens, as soon as they reach maturity and for some years, they will lay eggs, one a day depending on the light and their living conditions. Therefore, all of them are going to be layers, but, since we do not want to stimulate this production at home, the food does not have to favor the setting and, of course, we should not artificially increase the hours of light so that it is greater.
Therefore, our maintenance model should tend to respect the natural conditions of the hens. They need a space where they can have contact with the outside, access to land where they roll, place to climb and sheltered areas where to rest or lay eggs. To complete well-being, in terms of food, we will look at what hens eat in freedom, in case we want to offer them more than commercial food. The guide at this point is to think about which products are healthy for us. Cereals, fruits, vegetables but also meat or fish, can be part of the diet of our chickens. Although they have access to the outside, herbs, fruits, seeds, etc. that consume are supplements to the food that we must provide.
How much does a chicken eat?
Once we choose what our chicken eats, we must know that it will be eating, pecking, throughout the day, while there is sunlight. Therefore, you should always have at your disposal food, which, depending on the space and the type of food, we can place in a bird feeder, give it directly or distribute it on the ground.
In the same way, hens must have clean, fresh water at their disposal. It is important that we put it in a trough, also designed for birds. This way we prevent them from overturning or defecating on water. This is especially important if they are left alone for many hours.
What do hens eat: frequently asked questions
We have seen that the question about what hens eat has multiple answers; since there are many foods we can offer them. Next we focus on some of those who usually have doubts:
- Is the bread good for chickens? Yes, hens can eat bread, as their main component is cereals, which we could also offer directly, in grain or ground. The only precaution that we must follow is to soak it before with a little water if it is hard, so that they get it chopped.
- Do chickens eat nettles? Yes, chickens can eat nettles. If they have an outdoor space where these herbs grow they are likely to include them in their diet, although some will prefer other plants and will only eat nettles if they find nothing better.
- Do chickens eat bugs? And not only insects, if our hen accesses outside it is not strange that we find it pecking lizards, snakes and even small rodents. They are supplements of your diet.
- Do chickens eat onions? Onion is one of the few foods contraindicated for chickens. A small amount will not be harmful, but we must avoid consuming it daily or in large quantities. In the next section we indicate what other foods are not recommended for them
Prohibited food for chickens
Almost any fresh food can be included in what hens eat, but there are some exceptions that we point out below. It is discouraged that hens have access to these products because their components include substances that are harmful to them. An occasional consumption may not have consequences but we must avoid that they are part of the usual diet or that the hens eat them in large quantities:
- Onion, as we have already commented.
- Tomato plant, the fruit can eat it.
- Rhubarb leaves
- Dry beans.
- Potato skin, the peeled tuber can be included in the diet.
Now you know what the chicken feed is, which foods are more beneficial and which ones you should avoid. Do not hesitate to share with us your experience, questions or comments. Discover also Animal Expert why chickens eat their eggs or what chicken chickens eat.
If you want to read more articles similar to what do hens eat? – Everything about the feeding of the hens, we recommend that you enter our section of Balanced diets.