There is SOOOO much information on the internet about what to feed your chickens. Great right? Well maybe not. You see with great passion comes great debate. ” Definitely feed a good poultry crumble!” “Poultry crumble is unnecessary and a waste of money” “Feed whole corn. Cracked corn is devoid of nutrients” “Whole corn can’t be digested only feed cracked corn” “Feed chickens free choice and NEVER let them run out of food” “Chickens are pigs that’ll eat you out of house and home they only need a rationed amount of food a day”…the list goes on and on and it’s exhausting really.
When I first set out on this journey I was determined to feed my girls the best I possibly could. My biggest concern was health and vitality and avoiding mites and intestinal parasites as best as possible. I wasn’t incredibly picky about my chick starter, I chose a basic cheap organic crumble. I was more concerned about my additives. I would sprinkle a small amount of garlic powder in it to keep mites away. I also added in a tablespoon of chick grit to the food to help them grind it down.
As the girls have gotten older and I’ve learned more my feed mix has gotten admittedly more complicated, but I am very happy with the health and vitality of my ladies and their eggs are gorgeous and growing more abundant. Into a storage container with a lid I add:
- Heavy base of layer crumble (some chickens like pellets but mine were royally offended at the sight of them and let me know quite loudly, my neighbors are also aware)
- Few scoops of cracked corn (not used in summer months–planning on giving whole corn a try as soon as I’m out)
- Few scoops of BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds)
- Few scoops of whole oats
- Small sprinkle of DE (Diatomaceous Earth is only added once a month)
Then you just snap the lid on and give it a healthy shake up!! Let the DE dust settle and then open the lid to admire you work…*cough* step back because JIMINY CHRISTMAS that DE dust is still flying and cough some more as your clothes are now covered in a fine powder (oh face it you weren’t going anywhere any way…and stop doing your chicken chores in your good clothes). Mutter under your breath about the things you do for your chickens while you wait for the dust to finish settling. AN IMPORTANT STEP! There can be some risk to your chickens’ health from breathing in the dust. They can have fragile respiratory system so take heed to that. ***Also note that all of the coughing, getting dusty and colorful language is part of the recipe. If you skip this step the chickens will not eat it. They need to taste the struggle…I mean the love.
Just recently I started adding Sea Kelp Powder (link for the kind I use provided below). I’m interested to see how it effects their health and overall egg production. I read a few articles about how it provides the chickens with vitamins, minerals, niacin and amino acids. Supposedly I can expect to see a difference in the glossiness of their feathers, reduced outbreaks of disease and less blood spots in their yolks. I’ll keep you updated on those allegations. (Side Note: We also add apple cider vinegar to their water in the winter months)
As for frequency I do feed my girls free choice. As well as offer calcium freely. Mostly because I never saw any reason not to, but also because I was worried that if I fed a rationed amount that the under dogs would miss out. I have a Silver Laced Polish (Sweet Heihei) with a cross beak that needs a lot of time to feed and needs to stand at the feeder for a good 20 minutes before she has actually had enough food. During the spring and summer there is plenty of grass…weeds in the yard and run and they pig out while foraging and eat a lot less feed. Along with the feed mixture my chickens also get a buffet of kitchen scraps every day and that helps cut back feed costs as well. We’ve also started sprouting grains and fermenting feed to increase nutrients (you can read about that in blogs to come). I’ve always got a trick up my sleeve to stretch a penny and make feed go further.
I’m not saying that I created the perfect chicken feed recipe, but I will say that it works beautifully for us. My girls are nice and plump, healthy, vibrant and happy