Your chickens will need properly formulated chicken feed that is the correct type for their age, for growth, sustenance and to produce eggs if they are hens of egg laying age.
Hens can also suppliment their diet with what they can forage. Bugs, insects and worms are all valuable sources of protein, not forgetting a good selection of greens providing vitamins and minerals.
Chickens require protein to produce feathers and eggs as well as to grow. The amount of protein in their diet is important and you will see on the ingredients on the back of bags of feeds the percentage of protein that they contain. It is higher in ‘Growers Pellets’ for example to enable chickens to grow and produce feathers. You will find that chickens stop laying eggs when they moult (lose their feathers and regrow new) as they are diverting protein from egg production to feather production.
Layers pellets for example are around 16% protein. Wheat is about 10% protein and lacks essential vitamins that are required by chickens.
Formulated feeds come as pellets or mash and should be fed ad-lib so hens can take what they want as they need it. This type of feed must be kept dry or it will soon spoil.
Mixed corn is usually 60% wheat and 40% maize. It is useful as a scratch feed, it keeps hens active, scratching around looking for it but should only be considered a treat.
Maize (yellow in colour) is very fattening but can be useful during very cold weather to help your hens keep warm and after they have finished moulting (they need lots of protein during the moult) since they are not laying eggs and need a little extra fat to burn in order to keep warm.
If you feed too much corn, your hens will get fat and fat hens don’t lay eggs!
Feeding scraps should be limited to at most 25% of a hens diet so as not to tip the balance too far one way or another.
Ample green stuff should be provided for your hens. Grass cuttings, weeds and offcuts from cabbages, cauliflowers and other greens can be provided at minimal cost.