For free range hens, Natural Free Range Layers Pellets or Meal provide a complete feed, though corn or grain may still be fed in small amounts. This feed stuff is approved by the Vegetarian Society and provides all the vitamins, minerals and natural ingredients needed for good-sized eggs with a natural golden yolk colour. For the truly free range bird, Low Protein Free Range Layers Pellets are an alternative. They are also Vegetarian Society Approved and produce a natural, health looking egg yolk. Feeding excess protein has been found to sue up energy in the laying bird, which may lead to an increase in feed consumption. Lower protein levels can also result in less nitrogen pollution of the soil.
A special blend of vitamins and minerals specifically targets the needs of laying hens-providing everything required for a healthy bird and good quality eggs. The vegetarian status of the Smallholder Range Feeds is not compromised by the common practice of coating the vitamins with pork gelatine, or by the inclusion of fishmeal.
A common misconception is that there is no need to feed layers pellets or meal to hens that are not laying because they are going through a moult, or to pullets before they come into lay. In fact, both these periods are times when a hen particularly needs protein. If adequate food is not given then laying performance will be affected in the future.
Natural Free range Layers Pellets and Meal are normally fed dry and ad lib (allowing the hen's free access) though an average hen will eat 100g - 150g per day.
A hen's crop is only capable of holding about 100g of food, so it is advisable not to mix grain or corn with the pellets, as birds will tend to eat the grain first, fill their crops, and then be unable to eat sufficient pellets. This can often lead to problems as the birds will not be receiving a balanced diet, which may affect their laying potential.
If Mixed Corn or Super Mixed Corn is fed it should only be given in small amounts (maximum of 20g per day per bird) as a treat in the afternoons.