It only took a day of being in the pen before we let them out into the garden. I have to say that the garden is secure and I spent a day fencing gaps behind sheds, wiring under fences so on the whole felt that the chickens were safe especially as the idea was that they would just be out in the garden while we were there.
Despite only being with us for 24 hours they soon took command of the garden and let by Cybil (the silver Sussex) all five were soon exploring the garden. The physalis (Cape gooseberry) took a real battering, they loved eating the leaves, but apart from that they were very well behaved and scoured the lawn and borders for bugs, all had a dust bath underneath the banana trees and then put themselves to bed!
So following the books and learnt wisdom the "girls" main diet is layers pellets which are provided ad lib. Mixed corn is provided as a treat late in the afternoon though as the nights draw in I'm not sure how that is going to work. They get offered a good range of greens when they are in the run however due to the large amount of foraging in the garden they never seem that bothered. They love melon seeds and skin and are addicted to mealworms which are given as a super treat and if anybody has to be caught up they are rewarded with mealworms to prove we are not baddies. However, so addicted are they that it only takes a few wigglers to entice chickens on your arm, leg, sitting next to you on the bench, you name it - hens are more than happy and willing to almost anything for a mealworm.