First things first; keeping chickens can be fun. It’s true! They are interesting creatures PLUS they lay eggs for you! And, if you’re so inclined, you can fatten them up as table-birds for your Sunday roast.
In the meantime you take care of them. Regardless as to whether they are just pets, there as layers or there to eat. As their owner, it’s up to you to ensure they have fresh food and water every day and somewhere safe to live (as I’ve spoken about before).
Beyond this, there isn’t too much to it. They are easy to take care of.
Some Chickens roam free all day long – Free Range. Some have pens or houses or live in a barn and are let into the garden occasionally before being put back indoors – Free To Range. Some live in a barn all day and night – Barn Reared. However they live, they all have one thing in common – they need to eat.
Food can be in the form of pellets, mixed grain or mash. You can also give them any veg peelings, rice, pasta, stale bread, stale cake. They’ll love a handful of corn or mealworms as a treat. You’ll notice this is all vegetarian. Chickens are omnivores by choice. They’ll eat close to anything. However, if you plan to eat the bird or the eggs, it’s not recommended that you feed them meat or fish products. They can taint the flavour of the eggs (and possibly the bird – for example; gourmet’s use Corn Fed chicken as the corn makes the bird go yellow and the flesh taste a specifc way.)
Even though chickens will eat anything they find, and even though they do love to scratch around and eat all the day long, the fact is they can’t get enough food (or enough of the food with the right nutrients and calorific value they need) though eating like this.
If you do not top up their food feeder once a day with pellets/mash the other foods listed then they will slowly starve. Starvation leads to death. It’s not instant and it’s very painful for the birds. First they will get sick as their kidneys begin to fail. Their electrolytes can get so out of balance that they have heart-attacks. Other vital organs shut down and they die. This is not a nice way to go.
So – PLEASE feed your birds.