1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Boosting nutrition, what to plant in the garden help

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LoneCowboy, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I've only had chickens for a short time, but I've found that in the winter, the chickens seem to struggle nutritionally. They start to pick at each other and eatting feathers. They are gobbling down calcium like it's candy. This leads me to assume that their feed is not fully meeting their needs. I've added Avia Charge 2000 to their water, black oiled sunflower seeds to their scratch, and lots of calcium to their free choice feeder. But still I'm worried about these girls. They don't get as many treats in the winter, because not much is readily available.

    My questions is, what can I be feeding them, thats going to fill in their nutritional gaps? And what can I plant in the garden this year, that will save over winter to aid them next winter? I've got lots of winter squash saved but is there other stuff I could be storing. I need to cut feed costs as well, so what are really good items to grow to do that during the summer that isn't feeding empty foods?
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    You would try some dark leafy tall kale and/or spinach-lots of vitamins and the plants do well to a point into the winter. Mine love kale, but I'm not sure you could really store it. I do grow it in pots on my deck and try to keep the Barred Rock Marauders out till it matures, LOL.
     
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,119
    17
    201
    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    All kales can withstand below freezing temperatures if left in the garden. There is a variety used for cattle forage (Premier Kale) that has withstood temperatures of minus 7°F.

    Things like vitamins aside, it is fairly easy to grow and over-supply carbohydrates. Even growing cereal grains puts a little more emphasis on carbs than protein.

    Legumes would really require cooking to overcome anti-nutritional factors. Peas are a fairly easy garden crop. Would you be willing to cook for the hens?

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2008
  4. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    11,973
    12
    313
    Oct 13, 2007
    California
    digitS' :

    Legumes would really require cooking to overcome anti-nutritional factors. Peas are a fairly easy garden crop. Would you be willing to cook for the hens?

    Steve

    [​IMG] Steve!!


    I think there are alot of us who cook for the chickens... [​IMG]
    I don't specifically cook for them myself, but I do make sure there are leftovers now and then...​
     
  5. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Shoot, I don't even cook for DH. [​IMG]

    I gave the dog a couple of leftover ribs from last week. DH got mad that I didn't give them to the chickens. He says that at least the chickens are productive, the dog doesn't do squat. I thought they were too old for the chickens, or I would have. I did give them my bones from dinner. They went totally crazy for them.

    I try to give balanced treats protein, carbs, etc, but it's really hard. Carbs are really easy to give them, we've got it everywhere. I did buy some Prozo to plant for them, but it's too cold still. I wonder if I can start that indoors [​IMG]
     
  6. cherndon712

    cherndon712 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2008
    WY
    I'm already starting stuff indoors, here in Wyoming!! I've actually had plants produce before I even get them outside! Do you have a grow light? One of those, some seeds that are suitable for container gardening, and you're ready to go!! Some tomato plants, beans, cucumbers, etc do really well in containers indoors!!
     
  7. picklespickles

    picklespickles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2007
    this summer i put the offs from my garden and the neighbors in the freezer for winter animal feeding. so, they've been eating stuff like zuchinis that got way too big and woody, grapes that were damaged by yellow jackets, etc. they don't care that's soggy from being frozen. in fact i think they like the juiciness of it. it is nice to be able to feed them stuff like this in the winter.

    also they could be nutritionally fine and just pecking out of boredom too during this looooooong winter.
     
  8. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Yeah, I built a grow light. Florescent light with one cool, and one warm bulb for full spectrum. I haven't started anything yet. I usually start my plant inside before I transplant them, to get a jump on CO short growning season. I guess I can do to container cucumbers, I have the seeds. DH will be a little unhappy with the lights being on though. He's a utility mizer.
     
  9. cherndon712

    cherndon712 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2008
    WY
    So is my DH, but he doesn't mind if it's free food for the animals!! I always start them indoors, will be starting next week, actually! A lot of times they start producing before it's warm enough to put them out...which is perfectly fine with me!!
     
  10. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,119
    17
    201
    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I did some checking after Cynthia suggested kale and came up with a little information. Kale looks really good for protein content -- above 15%, maybe above 25% protein!

    That's a big surprise! Alfalfa and clovers should rate up there but -- kale :eek:!!

    It is used as a forage crop along with some others in the family. You know from the other threads on toxic plants that there are some questions about the safety of cabbage family plants but in looking at the veterinary sites - I haven't found red flags with regards to poultry. Certainly, it's been recommended here and there for poultry.

    Maybe we should be adding kale to our salad greens mix this Summer and planning on keeping it going on into the Winter months [​IMG]!

    Steve
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by