Your chickens’ diet

The right diet will help keep your chickens happy and healthy. Here’s what the experts at the British Hen Welfare Trust recommend.

Chicken feed

Chickens should be fed on a diet of commercially produced feed, which has the correct balance of nutrients to keep them in tip top condition whatever their age or breed. Feed is normally dried and comes in pellets or crumbs.

Hens generally graze on their food so give them their main feed in the morning and let them feed on it throughout the day.

As with any pet, chickens need the right diet for their age:

  • Chicks should be fed chick crumbs before moving on to growers feed.
  • After 20 weeks of age, chickens can be fed chicken pellets or crumble.

Fancy or pure breed hens also have their own special range of foods. These breeds lay fewer eggs so need a different mix of nutrients in their diet.

Give your chickens grit

Did you know that hens don’t have any teeth? That’s where we get the saying ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’.

Hens can’t chew their food. Instead, they need to eat mixed grit to help break down the food in their stomachs. Giving them grit or ground oyster shell helps their digestions.

Treats for chickens

If you have rescue hens, it’s tempting to feed them lots of treats to make up for their start in life. Hens can suffer from obesity, just like us, so follow these tips when giving your girls a treat:

  • Feed treats in moderation to stop your hens putting on too much weight.
  • Give treats in the afternoon to make sure they eat their healthy feed first and don’t fill up on less nutritious treats.
  • Don’t feed kitchen scraps to your chickens – it’s illegal, unless your household is totally vegan.