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How and What To Feed Backyard Chickens

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I have a lot to learn when It comes to raising backyard chickens. We will be moving into a new home soon and then I will start my adventure with chickens. 

I would like to feed them organically, and have read various things about feeding chickens. Do most people feed their chickens formulated feed (like Manna Pro) or do they make their own food for the chickens? Are chickens so destructive that they would eat a garden or the plants in a garden? Wouldn't it be a good idea to put them in a chicken tractor during the day, or do they need more freedom? How much of whatever food is given, do chickens get per day, and are they fed in the morning or another part of the day? What are some recommended brands of chicken feed?

post #2 of 3

Ours are in a very large pen (think neighborhood sized yard, we live rurally). We throw no food away. They get all scraps to go through at their will, the rest becomes dirt/mulch/type stuff in their pen. I buy them a nearly organic, non-GMO seed based feed that is locally made. 

I don't feed bones because the barn cats steal them, then the dogs steal from them- too much choking hazard. I save them in the freezer and pressure cook them soft then give them. 


As for the garden- I hear that letting them flat out in the garden is a bad idea as they scrape too much at the plants. That being said, I am contemplating letting them in once all my plants are quite large... just a few birds at a time. But maybe I won't lol. I do let them have run of the garden all winter long to fill it with chicken manure for me. :) 


Tractors: depends on how big it is and how many are in it. I have 15ish bird, they live in a 40x40ish + foot pen, so plenty of space to stretch legs, run, get away from each other as needed... But it is all flat out dirt, even though it was very thick plant matter when they moved in- that is what worries me about the garden access. :)


Amount per day- pellet/seed/commercial type feed... usually the amount I think is 1/4 cup per bird per day, if I remember correctly. 


Brands- to a degree, that is dependent on where in the country you are: i.e. different brands are in different parts... 

post #3 of 3

It's very difficult to actually make a balanced ration in small quantities at home, and will be much more expensive. The best way to feed is to buy bags at the feed store!  You will want to check the dating on the bag, so it's always fresh.  I never buy anything older than four weeks, and use it within another month.  Some vitamins are lost over time, so it matters.  If you plan to feed organic, that includes ALL table scraps and other stuff you might toss out there.  Feed needs to be available all the time, rather than doled out, and scraps and treats limited in quantity so the basic diet doesn't become unbalanced.  They will demolish young plants in the garden!  Predator protection is a very big deal, so start with a well ventilated large predator proof coop, and run, and have a fun time with your birds!  Mary

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