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What do you feed your chickens?

Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
I am surprised that it took me this long to realize that laying pellets are just another pile of processed food - but it did.  So.....

My hens cannot free range but are in movable pens that are moved once or twice a day.  Lots of greens to eat.  The Reds completely clean up all greens within thier reach.  The aracanas eat well but not as much as the Reds.  Thier purpose here is to lay eggs but I have found that if I don't give them a supplemental feed they will eat the eggs.  I don't want to keep giving them laying pellets.

What are you all feeding your layers?


1. my projects
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
Chickens eating their own eggs is usually interpreted as a lack of protein.  (So is cannibalism.)
Not only are the commercial chicken feeds just another processed food, but any corn, soy, canola/rape, etc included in the formula is ALL  GMO.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Whole oats and whole sunflower seeds along with bugs and weeds and stuff from the garden.  No processed food at all this year and avoiding corn (though we did accidentally buy a bag of mixed grains which included corn).


Idle dreamer

T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
for those that dont feed a pellet or crumble, what do ya'll feed during winter months when everything natural is dead or froze in?  esp. when it comes to protein?
Anna Carter


Joined: Feb 11, 2011
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
Right now, they are getting a mixture of cracked grains that I'm getting from a co-op. It's organic, and definitely whole food, but in my opinion, not as good as it could be. I look forward to when I have more land and can do more for them.


I'm a young and I'm not going to contort myself to fit in with our very ill society. I am a citizen of the world, not a mindless consumer. If you want to follow along with my journal, here's my blog: Life Happened Today
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
according to my knowledge. most grains are 8-12% protein.  unless you have some soybeans and certain peas and legumes that are mainly found in pigeon grain rations.  but these are god awful expensive.  could you go into more detail as to what your grains are and the protein levels?  or how you maintain protein levels to keep hens at optimal levels?
Anna Carter


Joined: Feb 11, 2011
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
I should have been more detailed with my post, I was tired and in a rush. Anyway. The farm it comes from is called "In Season Farms" and they do the mixing to get the right protein percentage, as what's available to use shifts. They also add some mineral- I've lost the tag now, or I'd type it out for you. Anyway, right now it appears to be mainly red wheat with peas and lentils mixed in; perhaps some corn and buckwheat? Hard to tell, seems they crack many of the grains. Still, I think it's a better alternative than the crumble or pellets from the feed store.

Here's the website of the co-op:
https://sites.google.com/site/chickenfeedcoop/
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2472
Location: FL
    
  79
My current flock runs around freely.  They get into everything, but handle their own feeding demands.  They have a routine and some favored hangouts.

I have several piles of compostable material.  The big heap they hit regularly, poking around hunting for bugs.  There are a few smaller piles of leaves which they have flattened.  Sometimes the visit the bull and scratch around his calling cards.  They enjoy shade under one of the trucks or under the shrubbery.

Their absolute favorite place is the hugulkulture bed that was covered with a blend of soil and compost, topped with a thick mulch of leaves and grass clippings.  They won't leave it alone.  if I planted anything in the bed, they tore it up the next day.  They have scratched around to the point of uncovering the logs and sticks-these were a foot deep.  The environment created in the bed offers them a desired food source.  I'll be getting some more hugulkulture projects going specifically for the chickens.

The climate down here in northern Florida has something growing all year round.  This past winter was especially cold.  Several weeks of frost killed off all the bugs and the grass turned brown.  I was not prepared with crops to offer the birds so I shot the lock off the wallet, investing in scratch grains to see them through to spring.

I've had a bug zapper in use to reduce mosquitoes.  This is on their route.  The bugs hit the thing, cook up fast, fall to the ground.   This is a fine method of attracting food for the birds.  They also clean off the front of the truck. 

Until a couple of years ago I worked part time in a restaurant.  Food scraps were saved in a bucket by the wait staff.  This went to the hens, kept in a corner of the yard at my house in town.  They ate everything, including the aluminum foil wrapped around the baked potatoes.  Made for some colorful eggs!

When the birds were in the fenced area in town I did an experiment.  I tossed in a few handfuls of scratch grains.  They went after it immediately.  Before they had made much progress, I threw in an entire collard plant that had a few bugs on it.  The left the grain alone, went after the plant exclusively.  While they were working on that, I tossed in some grass/weed clippings from the mower bag.  The grass and weeds won.  Seems they enjoy diversity and bugs the most.

WORMS
I've checked into vermicomposting and have started to raise worms a couple of times.  My schedule sends me out of town for weeks at a time.  As a result I keep losing all my worms.  I've added worms to the biggest compost heap in order to keep the population alive, hopefully nature will allow the things to populate.  As a protein source for chickens, worms are outstanding and preferred.

A productive worm bin is my objective.  I dump waste materials in to feed the worms, the worms turn it into the finest soil amendment there is, and offer a fantastic food source for the chickens.  Left to their own devices, the birds will eat worms until they cant eat no more.  Big fat birds and large eggs.

A typical full sized hen will consume about a quarter pound of food in a day.  If that included a dozen worms, they would have ample protein, and you would have more eggs than you know what to do with.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
James Stark


Joined: Apr 21, 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
I like to laugh about how my chickens are always "looking for something better". I can toss them one thing, then if I toss in something else they go for that. Add a third, then watch them go. The best part is, I can go and pick up the first thing I threw to them, drop it back on the ground, and they go right after it like it's the best thing yet!

As for protien, mine free range, so they get lots of bugs. In the winter I give them plenty of new born rats. (I raise rats for a living, so I always keep extra breeder females so I've got plenty of babies for the chickens to eat) In turn, I give our excess eggs to the rats, so they help each other out by providing protien rich feed for each other. Just today, I was clearing out the chick brooder to get ready for the meat birds that come in a couple days. During the winter I keep the straw for their nest box and coop in there. While I was taking out the four bales, like always, there were a few mouse nests in the bales. The chickens knew exactly what to do. The mice were cleared out for me, the chickens got a good snack, and everyone was happy. The jist of it is, chickens are omnivores. They like meat, and given the opportunity to eat it, they will balance their own diet.


I never fail. I don't believe in it. I only succeed at finding what doesn't work.
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Feeding the girls Green Mountain organic grower pellets as they are just 10 weeks old.  Also supplementing with grass, dandelions, weeds and clover that I harvest each morning.  Organic plain whole milk yogurt, instant oatmeal, dried mealworms, live worms from the compost pile, pill bugs and other assorted insects I can find.

As soon as we are able to construct either a tractor or a paddock (most likely a paddock) we will let them out of the run to range some.  Not easy in suburbia with a small lot and neighbors, but we will make due.

So far it is more work, but I enjoy it.  Nothing like opening up the door in the morning and getting greeted with happy faces running out to see what I have for them.
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
Ken, I just checked back on this post and saw your comment about the worms.  I will start adding worms to thier diet immediately - I have plenty of them!

I have switched thier diet to eliminate the pellets but the egg eating may have been accidental.  I have isolated the birds that were doing it and they have not continued to eat the eggs. 
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
Chickens, like humans, are omnivores.  They will eat (almost) anything you can offer.  People who feed them entirely store-bought bags of Layena (or whatever brand of...and I include "organic feed" in this list!)) chicken feed are doing themselves, and their hens a dis-service (IMHO).  Don't get me wrong, I love oatmeal, but if that was all I had to eat for a whole week, I would gladly pay $20 for a can of Spam, just for a change!  If you can provide diversity, you will have happier hens, and happy hens will outlay unhappy hens.  A diverse diet (especially if offered free-choice) also ensures that they will also be getting all of the nutrients that they need to maintain good health.  The "same-old-bowl-of-stew" gets pretty bland after awhile, no matter how good it was at first.
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
i have always based my fowls diet on a ration of lay pellets or crumbles.  i truly feel and have seen it proven that fowl can do well and actually flourish on nothin more than  a diet of laying pellets.  they "need" nothing more than this.  its a complete feed. and a man can do well with giving them nothing more or less...

with that said.  my program as of yet is still based on lay pellets.  i used to add all kind of whole grains,  really mix it up, give them variety,  for health benefits.  but after doing this for yrs. ive seen where they really dont need this. they do just fine w/o all the variety.  now adays.  the layers and bantams are free ranged.  the game fowl are still kept in small individual cages.  the game fowl are just as healthy...looking,  acting as the free ranged fowl.  but free ranging is good for mental health and gives a healther egg.  (even though i prefer eating the smaller game eggs.  they taste better) i do give everything a weekly allotment of soaked dog food,  sometimes catfood.  occasionally i mix some fish pellets in with the mix. but the vast majority of times they get nothing more than pellets or crumbles. 

ive learned chickens are a very durable creation of GOD.  they can withstand and overcome alot. and can even thrive under the most adverse conditions.  we humans tend to give human thoughts and opinions to animals.
                


Joined: May 03, 2011
Posts: 51
Thanks for starting this thread.  I too have wondered what people feed when using something besides a packaged chicken feed.

I have a couple more questions though.  When I slaughter the rabbits what can I give to the chicken?  Is there anything that chickens should never be fed?
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
Chickens will eat just about everything.  If it is good for you it is probably good for your chicken.  I do not feed my birds any poultry products - but that is my personal preference - I know a lot of people that do with no problem at all.
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
BlueDog wrote:
Thanks for starting this thread.   I too have wondered what people feed when using something besides a packaged chicken feed.

I have a couple more questions though.  When I slaughter the rabbits what can I give to the chicken?  Is there anything that chickens should never be fed?


when i slaughter rabbits.  the free ranging fowl stand around waiting for what ever fall their way.  i will throw bits of fat,  the kidneys, and what ever else to them.  i dont give them anything like the guts, hide, etc.  sometimes i take the liver and slice it up small pieces and give to the caged fowl. 
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
That reminds me of what happens when it is gelding day at a horse breeding operation.  The farm dogs know what time it is and they are standing by waiting for any little 'nuggets' that come thier way.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
Another very useful plant in the chicken run is Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris).  The chickens love to eat it, but be certain to plant a good patch outside their fence also, as it repels chicken lice!  Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
                


Joined: May 03, 2011
Posts: 51
So. Carolina, when you say "chicken product" do you packaged chicken feed or chicken by-products?

And as far as kitchen scraps of things like barley, amaranth, oats, quinoa, rice and the like, can you feed them as is or should they be soaked, cooked or ground?

T. Pierce, thanks again for sharing your experience.  These aren't the questions one can ask just anyone.  So far the dog has gotten the organ meats but I will save a bit for the chicken next time. 
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
anything the dog gets, i always like to cook first.  i dont know if it makes a difference but i dont want any dog of mine knowing what something raw tastes like.  honestly though, ive caught my dog grabbing a piece of liver or fat that she took from the chickens while i was butchering.  usually i dont let her near by when im butchering.  im just be cautious.

ive been butchering chickens past couple days. and some of the fat, i throw to the other birds standing around.  rather unorthadox,  but that be me.
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
Blue. anything you mentioned can be fed as is to fowl. but ive found they do enjoy things when they have been soaked.  plus the soaking and/or fermenting process of certain grains ups the nutrition value somewhat.  and is more digestable.
Nathalie Poulin


Joined: Feb 07, 2011
Posts: 60
I'm surprised no one here has mentioned maggot buckets.

Take a 5 gallon bucket, drill some holes into the bottom and around the sides of the bottom. Hang it a foot or so off the ground. Toss in a bunch of nasty stuff, kitchen scraps, rotten meat, etc to attract flies. To prevent it from smelling, toss leaves or old news papers on the top. The flies will lay eggs, which will pupate and the maggots will fall out of the holes and the chickens will grab them right up! (I actually saw this on a video Paul put up a while ago.)

Also, I just want to say that I feed my dog a primarily raw meat diet and she's sweet of temperament. I have 3 children and I've never had a problem with my dog. Just sayin...
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
its not so much their temperment that i think about. its getting a taste for or seeing where the raw meat comes from. i dont want her to put two and two together and develop a love for raw and blood realizing that they both come from,  the chickens and rabbits she is supposed to defend.
Shailor Clark


Joined: Apr 16, 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Roanoke Island, North Carolina
I have just 4 hens in my fenced in backyard, which is about 1/4 of an acre (although recently one of them has been going off by itself & jumping over the fence to get to the front).
I have a garden in the back as well which they cannot get into but they can roam everywhere else. There are 2 fig trees, a pear tree & 3 large grape vines.

Right now as the figs are fruiting it seems they tend to hang out under those trees mostly for shade I believe & it may seem more jungle like than the rest of the yard!
Anyways, they eat the figs that fall although not even all of them! Which I suppose is a good sign.

We do not mow our backyard anymore so there is quite the biodiversity, which also helps to attract dragonflies I believe since it seems our yard is a mating ground for them.. all the better for the chickens who chase them down & gobble them up frequently!

Other than the figs & dragon flies I see them eat lots of grasses, wild plants such as chickweed & lambs quarters, ants, maggots & a beetle or so every now & then.
I assume they eat spiders, flies & anything else they can catch as well.

I occasionally work at the local fish house when the shrimp boats come in & I bring home a bag of small fish & squid for my dog & the hens. They gobble up the squid as soon as they can! Although they have a hard time tearing up the larger pieces, so if I tear it up they seem to have a much easier time. They also eat the fish, the small ones they can swallow immediately. The larger fish are pecked at, tasted & eaten a bit but it seems only if they are truly hungry will they eat it all [such as when I first let them out of the coop in the morning].

My girlfriend has caught baby mice in the house before & we brought them to the chickens who in turn grabbed them immediately & ran around with them sporadically before munching them down!

Oh yes! My old rooster also has caught a garden snake before for a snack!

I also provide them with feed [some wheat & cracked corn] as someone had bought a bag for us, though they only eat it when they are in the coop/run, unless we feed them from our hand!

Lastly, if we ever have bits of vegetables or leftover fruit I bring it out to them & hand feed them, though how much they eat depends on how much they have found themselves today I suppose!

[Whenever I am out foraging myself I find lots of fruit or some grains I bring some home for them as well.
In the winter I also dumpster dive for breads, fruits & veggies at the super markets. Of course I use judgement as not everything should be taken but most of the time we gather MORE than enough for ourselves, end up sharing with family friends & neighbors & still have a lot so the chickens get some of that as well. However, I do not want to be dependent on this as a source of their food in the winter so I may stock up on grains & try to keep earthworms in a place for them]

All in all it seems they prefer foraging for their own insects & keeping the grass trimmed more than anything, although they sure love fruit & fish too!
Chris Stelzer
Author


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
    
    1
I've been feeding my hens whole Organic grains. They are moved to fresh pasture every 3 days, so they have plenty of bugs/worms/grass to eat. They seem happy and content while producing lots of eggs!


Agricultural Insights Daily Podcast/Blog about Sustainable Agriculture with a focus on livestock and grazing.
The Grazing Book
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
If you are feeding whole grains, please be certain to also provide free choice grit.  Without some stones in their craws, they will not be able to digest the grains (equals wasted food).
                          


Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 1
Location: Franklinton, NC
Mine get every beetle, grub, cicada and worm I can find for them. I throw them some pellet feed on occasion, but since I put up the maggot bucket (Thanks Paul for the idea!!) they are some full and happy chickens.

MMMMaggots!!!


The more you know, the less you need.
Steven Baxter


Joined: Mar 22, 2011
Posts: 254
Ken Peavey wrote:
My current flock runs around freely.  They get into everything, but handle their own feeding demands.  They have a routine and some favored hangouts.

I have several piles of compostable material.  The big heap they hit regularly, poking around hunting for bugs.  There are a few smaller piles of leaves which they have flattened.  Sometimes the visit the bull and scratch around his calling cards.  They enjoy shade under one of the trucks or under the shrubbery.

Their absolute favorite place is the hugulkulture bed that was covered with a blend of soil and compost, topped with a thick mulch of leaves and grass clippings.  They won't leave it alone.  if I planted anything in the bed, they tore it up the next day.  They have scratched around to the point of uncovering the logs and sticks-these were a foot deep.  The environment created in the bed offers them a desired food source.  I'll be getting some more hugulkulture projects going specifically for the chickens.

The climate down here in northern Florida has something growing all year round.  This past winter was especially cold.  Several weeks of frost killed off all the bugs and the grass turned brown.  I was not prepared with crops to offer the birds so I shot the lock off the wallet, investing in scratch grains to see them through to spring.

I've had a bug zapper in use to reduce mosquitoes.  This is on their route.  The bugs hit the thing, cook up fast, fall to the ground.   This is a fine method of attracting food for the birds.  They also clean off the front of the truck. 

Until a couple of years ago I worked part time in a restaurant.  Food scraps were saved in a bucket by the wait staff.  This went to the hens, kept in a corner of the yard at my house in town.  They ate everything, including the aluminum foil wrapped around the baked potatoes.  Made for some colorful eggs!

When the birds were in the fenced area in town I did an experiment.  I tossed in a few handfuls of scratch grains.  They went after it immediately.  Before they had made much progress, I threw in an entire collard plant that had a few bugs on it.  The left the grain alone, went after the plant exclusively.  While they were working on that, I tossed in some grass/weed clippings from the mower bag.  The grass and weeds won.  Seems they enjoy diversity and bugs the most.

WORMS
I've checked into vermicomposting and have started to raise worms a couple of times.  My schedule sends me out of town for weeks at a time.  As a result I keep losing all my worms.  I've added worms to the biggest compost heap in order to keep the population alive, hopefully nature will allow the things to populate.  As a protein source for chickens, worms are outstanding and preferred.

A productive worm bin is my objective.  I dump waste materials in to feed the worms, the worms turn it into the finest soil amendment there is, and offer a fantastic food source for the chickens.  Left to their own devices, the birds will eat worms until they cant eat no more.  Big fat birds and large eggs.

A typical full sized hen will consume about a quarter pound of food in a day.  If that included a dozen worms, they would have ample protein, and you would have more eggs than you know what to do with.




Do you have any predators? If so, how do you prevent them from getting chix.
                            


Joined: Aug 06, 2011
Posts: 12
I feed sprouted organic grains.  When you sprout a grain, the protein level shoots up when it is at the stage where the tiny sprout is just emerging.  I scatter sprouted grains in the morning (I like barley the best, but can't seem to get it anymore.  I switched to oats and recently, to wheat, as it was most readily available) and whole corn in the afternoon. 

I supplement this with any fat and meat scraps from the house, fat scraps from rendering lard and tallow (I make soap) and crushed bones from making bone broths and all the scraps from that....skin, meat, etc.  I make my own catfood so I freeze this stuff in baggies for the winter when the bugs are not available.  I save some for raising chicks....they get free choice cracked wheat in the brooder and a plate of mashed bone/skin/meat scrap daily, along with chopped greens and heads of sorghum to pick at.

In the long, snowy winter, they eat a lot of the hay that the goats drop and anything green that is poking through the snow.  I used to dry clippings from our untreated lawn and bag it for them for the winter, but they seem to prefer picking their own from the goat's stall so I don't bother anymore.  But if I only had chickens, I'd make lawn hay again.  I just spread the spring clippings on the driveway and turn them every couple hours until crispy-dry, then rake them up into feed sacks and store until winter.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
I have trouble comprehending the concept that a sprouted seed has more protein.  When it sprouts, it is using/converting nothing more than the energy that was stored within the seed.  To me, it would have less, not more than it started with.  However, it may be converted to a form that is more digestible to members of the animal kingdom.
                            


Joined: Aug 06, 2011
Posts: 12
It is well-supported by research.  Think of it this way....a wheat berry can be ground into flour and made into bread.  Wheat grass cannot.  It completely changes as it grows.

The biggest proof for me is in my flock and my herd.  No drop in production or in the health of my animals.....for several years now.

I don't pretend to know the science of how this happens on the molecular level.  I just sprout 'em and feed 'em.  There are scholarly papers online.
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
We switched our chickens to a soy-free organic layer from Countryside Organics a month ago and they are doing very well on it.  They also get to do a supervised free range, an hour or two a day on our small lot.

I have read about the sprouted grains and think we will do some of that in the winter.  I too was not sure how the protein elevates when sprouted but it does, according to what I've read.  This is an explanation in fairly simple terms.  http://www.foodforlife.com/our-products/sprouted-grain

John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
I think I was correct in my assumption.  The quantity of proteins is not increased, but the quality is...they are converted to forms more digestible to us.

As per Wikipedia:
Increases in Protein Quality Chavan and Kadam (1989) stated - “Very complex qualitative changes are reported to occur during soaking and sprouting of seeds. The conversion of storage proteins of cereal grains into albumins and globulins during sprouting may improve the quality of cereal proteins. Many studies have shown an increase in the content of the amino acid Lysine with sprouting.”

“An increase in proteolytic activity during sprouting is desirable for nutritional improvement of cereals because it leads to hydrolysis of prolamins and the liberated amino acids such as glutamic and proline are converted to limiting amino acids such as lysine.”


Sprouts are certainly a welcome (and healthy) treat for the chicks in winter time.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4339
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  67
    We used to have a pond that had out-of-control algae blooms courtesy of Mr. Guertzma's manure pile. I used a long rake and dragged  mountains of the stuff to the ponds edge. The chickens and geese gobbled up water bugs, larvae and other creatures caught up in this material. After the algae dried I used it as mulch in the garden.

    Old boards in the garden were used for foot traffic and the undersides became home to slugs during the day. Sometimes I would flip the boards and the chickens would immediately gobble up the slugs.


Dale's picks - These are some of my favorite threads. Greed - http://www.permies.com/t/10736/md/unbridled-greed-ambition-compatible-permaculture My garden - http://www.permies.com/t/27910/projects/Dale-Day-Garden ethics - http://www.permies.com/t/11534/permaculture/frustration-ethics Good wood bad wood http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood Alder - http://www.permies.com/t/10609/plants/Alder-nitrogen-fixation-native-tree Bees - http://www.permies.com/t/10917/bees/time-replace-European-honey-bee Pulling nails - http://www.permies.com/t/10249/natural-building/Removing-nails-recycled-wood-techniques
Kat deZwart


Joined: Aug 13, 2011
Posts: 103
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
    
    1
My own little scratch of land doesn't produce enough food for my little chicks. The chicks themselves decided to live with me over a year and a half back and just showed up in my garden one springmorning. The staple food for them are mixed grains and a laying mash I buy at a local organic farm (the grains are actually from their own lands, the mash is guarantied GMO-free and Demeter-approved), they get loads of greens and weeds. When I stumble upon an anthill they get the brood as well. And the whole family saves old bread and are used to me taking home tablescrabs. I'm now even asking for a "chickybag" whenever I'm at a restaurant.

I'm considering feeding them the contents of my organic flytraps as well (bait is just stale beer or lemonade mostly). Any thoughts on that?
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 195
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
    
    1
A propos flytrap - during the famous 1983 PDC Bill Mollison talked about how his neighbour accidentally invented the liver brick:

He'd fed the cat some liver on a brick in the garden, and for days on end all the flies from miles around would gather on that brick .

So if it's flies you want, he tells his listeners, put some bricks into a large kettle, add liver, and boil it for a few hours.
Each time that brick gets wet after a rain - the porous structure will retain the smell for a long time - the flies will descend on it.
Put it where the chickens can reach it.
Tim Canton


Joined: Sep 14, 2010
Posts: 174
if folks are buying anything for there chickens,  be it whole grains, seeds etc.    how is that different from buying a high quality organic feed that has all the proportions for chickens?  Just for example i feed the soy free from countryside organics    field peas, corn, oats, and wheat are the top 4 ingredients......

dont get me wrong I would love to stop feeding bagged food and mine get lots of veggies, food scraps,  they are in rotational paddocks so ton of greens and bugs.  But they still eat a lot of food and I have a hard time seeing them healthy without something

For example Ludi said sunflower seeds and oats......thats it?  they get everything else they need ?   

Is just buying whole grains better? 
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 977
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
One thing I feed, when I have it, that I haven't seen mentioned is surplus dairy products.  If I have too much milk or kefir, or whey from making cheese, or spoiled milk (or cheese), it goes to the chickens.  They love it. 

Kathleen
Kat deZwart


Joined: Aug 13, 2011
Posts: 103
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
    
    1
Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
One thing I feed, when I have it, that I haven't seen mentioned is surplus dairy products.  If I have too much milk or kefir, or whey from making cheese, or spoiled milk (or cheese), it goes to the chickens.  They love it. 

Kathleen

The little chicklets get some old powdered milk that has been in my emergency stash for a bit to long mixed in to their feed. I'm a bit scared of feeding them milk/yoghurt and the likes. All milk I get is pasteurised or sterilised, and my mother in law once killed some ducklings by feeding them bread soaked in pasteurised milk. They got the runs and died, so that makes me shy away from milk and milkproducts.

I'm thinking that milk in a brick might have the same effect as liver though, so i'll be soaking a brick in milk today Just a test. Hugel, thnx for the bricktip!

@Organick: I'm remembering a phrase by John Seymour after an full expose of what makes the ideal chickenfeed: In the end, he says, its better to feed what is available then to go out and buy stuff. That's part of the whole homesteadingprinciple I think, making the best of what is available. But if you have to buy stuff anyway, I would go out and buy the best I can afford. Loose grains are often cheaper then mixed feeds, so that might influence your choice. But if you can get your hands on a good, organic, feed at an affordable price, I'd say: go for it!
Tim Canton


Joined: Sep 14, 2010
Posts: 174
I am trying to reseed pastures with better greens for them as well as plan on planting lots of fruits berries etc in the paddocks so they will have that and increased bug levels I assume as well.     I have looked at just ordering whole grains and it seems  (have not do exact numbers)   just expensive to find organic grains     and it really a catch 22 type when its become increasingly hard for people to access local grains, local mills etc.

I guess the only answer is to grow all there food.   but until that can be acheived  anyone have a good source for organic grains online?    everything I find is like at least 2 x's as expensive as the mixed food I use.

Thanks...great thread
 
 
subject: What do you feed your chickens?
 
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