How to feed domestic birds depends on the bird, its age, the situation and its production.
Chickens need to eat little and often, throughout the day and night at will.
Water can be left outside at night for adult birds.
Adult chickens – laying strains
From 16 weeks old throughout their lives good laying hens, either pure breed or hybrid need to have layers pellets ad lib in their house at all times. Never be without it.
Good laying birds should not be fed Mixed Grain or Whole Wheat except for when the weather is really wet AND cold – these are high calorie, and ideal for providing internal central heating for birds (the “ready brek” effect) but if fed routinely then it causes damage to the liver. The more productive the bird the less they can handle these grains and death of fatty liver syndrome can occur.
Chickens should not “fasted” overnight but can do without water inside the house, as long as fresh water daily is provided close to the house.
Feeding birds once or twice a day is NOT enough .. even for unproductive bantams. Maintainance feed for chickens is 125g a day – and for birds who are laying this should be 16 % protein feed with vitamins and minerals.
The garden / field environment does not provide this sort of nutrition, it is entertainment and good herb / insect rich additions to the diet do make the eggs taste so much better.
Not providing correct amounts of layers feed will shorten birds lives, reduce their vigour, reduce their laying, force them to rob their internal resources to provide the dense nutrients in each egg they produce.
Feeding chickens ad lib with a proper hanging feeder inside a well made house does not attract rodents.
However scatter feeding does ..