Feeding chickens can actually help you to save some money when you break away from the conventional system of feeding them just grains and chicken feed.
There are better ways to feed your chickens that will help you to save your precious money.
Your chickens can find most of their own food when given enough access
to land that has greens and protein such as worms or bugs. However, if
you don't have enough food available on your property for feeding
chickens, you can
supplement their diet with food from your kitchen.
What do Chickens Eat? They are like us and can eat or
will eat just about anything. And you can keep your chickens happy and
healthy when you understand how to make the most of what's available in
your backyard or in your kitchen.
What Can You Feed Chickens?
Dehydrated Mealworms & Worms
Table Scraps and Leftovers
Raw Dairy like Milk and Yogurt
Various Meats and Raw Meat Scraps
Stale, Wilted, and Overripe Foods
Seeds like Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Whole Grains like Organic Corn, Kamut Wheat, & Oats
Fermented Whole Grains
Commercial Chicken Feeds and Scratch (organic please)
Insects & Grubs
Grits (tiny bits of stone & gravel)
Diatomaceous Earth (for worming & parasites)
Oyster Shells (supplemental calcium)
Crushed Dried Egg Shells (supplemental calcium)
Greens from Your Garden like Lettuce, Kale, & Cilantro
Organic Fruits (supposedly not citrus)
Organic Vegetables (cooked or raw)
Cut Grasses & Weeds
Feeding chickens grit will help them to digest their food. However, if your chickens are allowed to roam and scratch in an area that contains dirt or gravel, this will satisfy that need. Otherwise, you will need to supply grit by sprinkling some on their food or in the area where they like to scratch.
Make sure that your egg laying hens get at least 17% protein in their diets (or they will pick their feathers) and enough calcium to produce hard egg shells. They love worms and bugs for protein. And you can even grow your own worms for really cheap. They also really love raw meat!
Your chickens can get their calcium from eating greens or by giving them raw quality dairy foods. And chickens will need an ample amount of clean water to produce their eggs. You must also let your chickens get enough sunshine for eggs to contain a good amount of vitamins D and A along with healthy fats.
Compost Fed Chickens
This is my boyfriend's favorite way of feeding chickens - compost. There is a lot of life and critters that live in compost that will help to give your chickens the protein they need in their diet.
It also gives your chickens something to do and it will also end up giving you incredible compost that you can use in your garden to grow more food.
This is probably the most economical way of feeding chickens! And this is just one system of feeding chickens using compost, there are many others.
Feeding chickens your food waste or your neighbor's food waste that you compost will save you a lot of money. Chicken feed and grains can get very expensive! To top it off, I believe feeding chickens too much grain and chicken feed will shorten their lives and the productivity of your laying hens.
Pasture Rotation of Chickens
This pasture rotation system is especially great for larger flocks of hens. You'll need a large enough coop and enough land to move the coop regularly.
And an electric fence is used to keep the chickens confined to the area and to keep many predators out.
I like that he weed whacked because putting up an electric fence in tall grass is not fun.
Guardian birds like roosters and geese kept with hens helps to protect them as well.
You will have to lock your chickens up at night when they go in to roost. And be sure your locks are racoon proof.
And let them out in the morning, so they can start foraging for food again.
You will also have to set up some sort of watering system for your chickens.
And at least once a day, offer some sort of supplemental feed in addition to what they can find in the pasture.
This can be leftovers, compost type food waste, sprouted grains, fermented feed, or organic chicken feed.
Also, be sure to collect your eggs every day to prevent the chickens from eating their own eggs.
If you insist on feeding chickens grains or chicken feed, at least learn how ferment these types of food before giving them to your chickens which is much more economical as well as better
for their health.
Feeding Chickens Fermented Feed
Benefits of Fermenting Feed
Probiotics for Better Digestion
Increased Absorption of Nutrients in Feed
More B Vitamins
Helps to Remove Anti-Nutrients
Chickens will Have Stronger Immune System
Increased Egg Weight and Stronger Shells
Because of my personal experience, I believe that chickens fed fermented feed will be
much healthier than chickens fed unfermented types of chicken feed.
You will save on your chicken feed bill!
Fermenting will cut down on the amount of feed that you will need to give your
chickens by at least 1/3 to 1/2 to get the same results.
How to Ferment Feed
Fill appropriately sized glass jar 1/3 full with your choice of grains or chicken feed.
Add non-chlorinated water to the jar to cover grains or feed by 2 inches or so.
Stir and cover the jar with a breathable cloth. Secure cloth with a rubber band or piece of string.
Leave on your kitchen counter or other suitable area to ferment for 3 days - stirring occasionally.
Then drain the water and feed to your chickens.
Types of Chicken Feed for Hens
LayingMash - a complete feed made from grains that are crushed and mashed instead of in whole form. This type of feed is mixed with protein meal and supplements.
LayingPellets - a complete feed made from mash that's heated and compressed to form pellets. The protein meal can come from meat, vegetables, or from fish.
Laying Crumbles - are basically pellets that have been crumbled for easier eating. This makes it easier to swallow and is catered towards younger hens.
Scratch - mixture of seeds, rolled and cracked grains. Scratch feeds are relatively low in protein and do not provide balanced nutrition for hens - it's more of a treat.
Make sure you are buying organic chicken feed that is free from toxic chemicals, toxic ingredients, hormones, and antibiotics when feeding chickens. Or else you will be consuming unhealthy eggs that your chickens provide you.
Be Careful of Feeding Chickens these:
Deep Fried and Overly Salty Foods
Sugary Foods like Cakes, Cookies, etc.
Raw Green Potato Peels, Avocado Skin & Pit, and Rhubarb
Chocolate or Caffeine
Lots of Pungent Foods like Garlic, Onions, and Shallots
Soy - Contains too Many Anti-Nutrients!
Cheap Commercial Feeds
GMO Foods - Toxic Food
Non-Organic Oyster Shell - may contain heavy metals