Am I missing something?


8 Years
Mar 6, 2011
Aromas, CA
Hi All, I have a young flock, will be a year old this spring. They are all happy, healthy, and laying as well as they did this fall. I feed them organic layer crumbles, oyster shell, scratch, and a very few kitchen scraps. I just see a lot of discussion of other things here, and am wondering if I'm missing something obvious. Like I said, my chickens are beautiful and appear healthy. Don't mess with what works?? Thanks!
I give mine layer crumbles, some cracked corn, oyster shell grit and meal worms in the winter for the lack of bugs available. I make them a flock block and I feed them treats from the kitchen daily. Leftover pasta noodles, rice, veggies, fruit... you name it! They really enjoy applesauce. They like scrambled eggs too. I feed their shells back to them in a flock block for the calcium. It might not be that you are missing anything as far as diet goes but you may be missing a huge amount of free entertainment!

I like to play whose got the noodle. I take some old spaghetti that is clumped together and throw it in the yard and it is an amusing 5 minutes as they run around and try to steal the noodles from each others mouth. Or the meal worm frenzy! Like teenagers and a brand new bag of Doritos!

I got hooked on raising my own meal worms so I can have plenty on hand for next winter. Good luck and welcome to BYC!
Funny but I just posted something similar in the last post which was they wanted to know what amount of food to give the chickens bc they are planning to get a flock and for planning purposes they wanted opinions on how much.

You are not missing anything. I ask all the time is your treats a plan as a regular meal or a treat? I can't afford to go to the Super Market and shop for my chickens there. I am sorry but we are not wealthy folks and I am retired bc of medical reasons and not the financial producer I had once been and can't afford at today’s food prices to buy food for the chickens at Safeway or Vons if you know what I mean!! We just went to the local Farm supply and bought a large Flock Block, #40 BOSS, #50 3 grain scratch, #50 Flock Raiser, #50 AG Lime and some other minor stuff but you get what I mean and we spent $75.00 OMGoodness. Come on Chickens lay eggs weather it is food off the table as said by other posters throughout the forum or people like me who agree with you a 1000%. My kids are active, healthy, happy and are chickens first to us not exotic pets on special diets.

Here is out food regiment as you suggested. My policy from the beginning of having chickens is to always have water down and available during the waking hours and food available down and available. I go out each morning and could easily put only a days worth of feed and guess what I think they need. Some use that method for reason bc they have rodent or predator issues and food draws in the varmints they for obvious reasons do not want around. I do not feed treats per se like others do and I only throw down scratch each morning I let them out and on occasion will give table scrapes bc I worm farm and feed the worms the scraps and the rest of our table scrapes we compost so with that being said food is in a large 2 pound feeder in the open coop daily and what I throw down in the morning daily and maybe through the weeks a old piece of bread or melon rind. Good luck and No to your question you are not missing something and yeas you get it!!
People are coming from different perspectives. Some are looking to optimize the health of their chickens, others the healthfulness of the eggs, others need to save money and supplement formulated or commercial feed with stuff they grow or leftovers. No everybody is optimizing production at all times, too. Some people just get a kick out of how excited chickens get with getting something delicious. In my case, one reason I got chickens was because I have so much garden "waste" and extra lawn that I wanted to put to good use. Chickens are great because they are omnivores and grateful recipients of almost everything. I've been amazed at how much they like to forage on green stuff, if given the choice. For you and yours, providing just a complete feed may be entirely satisfactory.
One of my sisters owns a local cafe. She has one of those gigantic juciers and uses only organic veggies and fruits for her customers. The pulp that the juicer creates...carrot, beet, apple, ginger, kale, etc. is now a daily donation to my 12 week olds...I've been offering it to them since they were 4 weeks old. They love it, it's dry as most of the moisture has been removed and it keeps for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

I noticed right off they are attracted to the orange of the carrots and the red of the beets first. This food would normally be tossed or composted but it adds to my chook's overall diet.

They have their crumbles and fresh water available 24/7 which is eaten along with whatever else is offered to them.

I read a scientific paper about what food(s) make up a complete diet for chickens. Yes you can use the preformulated feeds 100% of the time but the sudden price increases can make you tear your hair out, especially for those of us on a fixed income.

Three easily found items can be mixed together to make a complete diet...chicken scratch, dry cat food (highest protein type) and steamed beets (steaming helps make them a bit more digestable). So you could go that route if you like.

Many humans get a lot of enjoyment from interacting with their animal friends...which can be a huge stress reliever and health benefit for the human. If chickens will happily consume the food we won't (end parts of zuccini, cucumber, kale veins, tough collard leaves, carrot tops, etc.) and happily give us eggs in return...what's the harm to either human or chicken?
If you want healthier eggs and healthier chickens, it's good to free range them at least part of the time. If that's a problem, you can offer things like wheat grass or some dark leafy greens as a substitute.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on their food. If it's fresh, plain wheat is easy to sprout. I've grown oat grass, too, when I had oats around. They can also eat clover or alfalfa, which provides more protein than other green feed, as they're legumes. You can buy a couple of packets of cheap seed and grow things like chard, kale or collards. I harvest the outer leaves of my chard and let the main plant grow all year long, so a pack of seeds goes really far.

A huge flock of chickens would do better with access to a pasture, but for a small flock, even a little corner of the garden or a bucket of sprouted wheat can give them a lot of added nutrition.

You can also use garden flats to provide grass in the run. The gridded kind can be flipped over to use as grass protectors. The chickens eat the grass as it grows through the top. Hardware cloth over a wood frame works, too. The solid flats with a few drain holes can be used as planters and rotated into the run. Pots work, too.

Offering green feed or a few fresh vegetables doesn't have to be expensive. It does improve their health, the same way that people are healthier if they eat fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. You wouldn't be as healthy if all you ate for your entire life were meal replacement bars and vitamin pills.
mine free range all day...they get layer feed with oyster shell and crushed egg shells on the side, plenty of water...

In the summer they have access to lots of greens, but I also toss them lots of tomatoes...(Watch out if you are holding one in your hand...
they are attracted to RED) lots of garden scraps.

In the winter I supplement them with BOSS, oatmeal (warm, plain cooked) salads that I don't eat...

I give them a variety of foods, plus feed back to them scrambled eggs, rice, pasta, breads, crackers, even ground beef (you can just boil it up and feed it to them)
They compete with the outdoor cats for food at times, I put it out for the cats and the chickens chase them away to eat!

I have super healthy, well fed, girls and great eggs. Mine are chubby looking due to winter...but trust me get tons of exercise running from the
barn/coop to the house, 50 yards away...I have over 300+ acres for them, they only use what is around the buildings though.
Great advice everyone! I'll be sure to incorporate it into my chicken routine. We keep a compost bin, so my habit is to throw veggie waste into that, when much of it would be enjoyed by the chickens. Some habits are hard to break
I have a toddler, and will remind myself how much she will enjoy taking scraps to the chickens. I loved the idea of adding greens via sprouted seeds, greens, or grass. I've let my chickens free range in the yard all summer and fall, but I got tired of them killing my plants and digging big holes in the yard for dust baths. Not to mention the poop. I want to let my daughter play in the yard without worrying that she'll step/sit/put her hand in a big juicy one! Thanks for the reassurance the everything's ok, and giving me good treat ideas for them! I have to show my appreciation for those eggs somehow!
Thanks for asking this question! I got lots of info out of the answers. We are in New Zealand so in our summer and it's perfect weather for planting stuff and. getting fresh greenery. We are new chicken keepers (well, it's many years since we had chickens so we might as well be!) I am finding myself fascinated by these wonderful creatures, and thoroughly entertained by their reactions to fresh food. We only have five fully grown chooks and two bantam pullets (kept separately at the moment until they get a bit bigger) but they still mob us when we come towards the pen with fresh food.

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