Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feeding Your Chickens on a Budget

Most of the time, during the Spring Summer and Fall, feeding chickens will be minimal to non-existent if they are free-range. They are wonderfully equipped to find their own food - bugs, seeds, greens.

When you start with chicks, you can feed them a commercial diet, phase them into a homemade diet, or go homemade all the way.
Adding fresh chopped greens to their diet from day 4 on, is a good way to start them on their way to a home-grown diet. Start adding in some grains- about 2 parts ground wheat, oats and corn (easy on the corn) and one part protein: fish meal, small portion of canned cat food, chopped hard boiled or scrambled eggs. yogurt, cottage cheese, worms grubs and bugs. My children used to love hunting for the worms and bugs for the chicks. Then add 1 part greens - lettuce, dandilion, clover, spinach, weeds finely chopped. Add some ground eggshells for their grit. Save your egg shells and dry them in the oven. Pulverize and crush them. This makes fine grit for chicks.
After about 4 weeks, chicks can eat the grain whole.

If your chickens are confined, they still would love to eat greens. Hang a cabbage head in a wire basket, or old onion bag and watch them peck at it. You can also  get heads of cabbage and push a long bolt through one, put a washer and nut on the end and hang the bolt from a hook. The cabbage is good in antioxidants and other things in addition to being cheap entertainment for the
chickens and you as you watch them swing it back and forth.

The greens are what makes the eggs so nutritious and that beautiful orange color yolk.

Adult chickens are wonderful at eating your kitchen scraps. Peelings, sweet or sour milk, pickles, meat scraps. All the vegetables, banana peels, french fries and stuff from your refrigerator is also relished.  They don't particularly like onions or citrus. (Don't feel them anything moldy). I bring doggie bags home for my critters.

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