Originally Posted by sky the chicken man
I'll go first. Here's a few of the things I currently do.
I've recently been making a mixed ration which I feed for two or three days at a time (twice a day, morning and afternoon) and keep in a covered bucket. I aim for 1/3 greens (any edible greenery, and I try to have at least several types in each batch for diversity of vitamins and minerals), 1/3 "calories" (this means fruit and starch foods from my land), and 1/3 "protein" (which so far has mainly been layer pellets, although I have also incorporated small amounts of soldier fly larvae, and pidgeon pea seeds). I splash a little EM into the bucket so it ferments and also so it doesn't start to rot. The idea is also that the beneficial microbes are good for their digestion, etc--the "probiotic" effect. I got the idea from talking to an acquaintance about her feeding system and reading about Korean Natural Farming.
I don't free range for practical reasons, but I am also experiencing with "compost runs." That is, building compost piles in two separated runs, and having one pile active and being foraged through by chickens while the one in the other run is being built up with garden waste and scraps and greenwaste. The hope is that this will provide lots of free protein (why culture and collect larvae when you can just let the chickens collect their own wild insects from the piles--my compost is always crawling with roaches, pill bugs, ants, and BSF larvae). An added benefit is that the chickens have fun, and aerate the compost and fertilze it with their droppings.
The chickens also get a scrap bucket about every other day from the kitchen (which contains some edible tidbits, but also a lot of inedibles that just get buried into the litter). They also get thrown fresh greens from the garden (the ones that are "cosmetically flawed" or too old, and can't be sold). After we drink the water from our coconuts (and it's easy on a hot day of working to go through coconut water faster than you can use the meat), I split them open and lay them out in the run and let the chickens pick them clean. These are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and some good sugars.
What is EM?
I keep layer feed out as free choice right now but am working towards feeding my chickens from my yard as close to 100% as I can get. I live in a small town and have a large yard for in town, but am limited by the yard / town thing, I can't grow an acre of alfalfa or anything like that, and will always have to buy my grains like boss, and oats.
I will start w/ the things I already do, I feed them out of my garden, during the main growing season they get all the types of veggies that I plant (the buggy, deformed, old when I get behind on putting up, or exess that I can no longer use, or the veggies that we don't like but are able to grow well here so I plant specifically for them mostly strong tasting greens). Tried okra for that this year and they absolutely refused to eat it in any way, I tried cutting it up, cooking it, mixing it w/ stuff they liked nothing worked, and kept at it for weeks thinking they would get used to it, but no so won't plant a lot of that again. I also have been able to keep some greens and roots going much longer into the winter then I thought I could they have been eating greens (mustard, spinach, turnip, and roots radish and turnips) this entire winter so far, I will expand that next year plant more of those and add collards and kale. I mix these w/ the extra pears I still have that are to far gone for us, and apple cider vinegar, some boss and recently tried adding a little calf manna. I sprout and / or ferment oats depending on the season, I ususally don't sprout the oats until I run out of greens for them so this year I haven't started sprouting them yet they are still getting the fermented oats. I raise feeder insects right now I have a large colony of dubia roaches that I can actively feed out they get about 250 per week for 20 chickens. I want to grow my colony to feed out about 300 / day (and double or triple my chickens). I have started a meal worm colony, but it is only a few months old so haven't reached the feed out stage yet.
Now for what I'm planning already mentioned the additional garden items. I tried black soldier fly larva last year and didn't succeed, so I am going to try it again, but this time put the bucket in the run and let the larva crawl out of the bucket directly in the run, not try and collect them, but let the chickens find and eat them on there own. I also intend to grow duckweed, something I was going to do this past year but got behind on. I am also concidering putting in a yard pond thinking around the size of 10' x 10' x 5', maybe a little bigger and grow goldfish to harvest to feed the chickens extra animal protien. I also have a whole garden / chicken run set up already, but I intend to add fruit trees along the edges so the chickens can eat all the dropped fruit and we can eat all the good fruit, along w/ the fruit trees for us to eat from I intend to plant 2 (one at each end) everbearing mulberry trees just for the chickens to eat (and hopefully entice the wild birds away from my cherries.)
The stuff I'm already doing is making a difference in the amount of layer feed my girls eat vs others in my area (from my state thread) and they look healthy and lay well (well not so much this minute they are just now post molt)