Can fodder and mealworms be the main food sources for chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ashleymroles, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. ashleymroles

    ashleymroles In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2016
    Cato, NY
    I currently have seven chickens: an EE cockerel 9 weeks and six 7 week old BR and RSL pullets (3 of each).

    Right now they're on chick starter bc I didn't want to mess with their nutrition in the critical growth period. I'd love to be able to sustain the chickens on simple ingredients I can grow either inside or out. So far I'm starting to farm mealworms and seed barley and BOSS fodder. They'll free range for about half the day. I would supplement salt and oyster shells when they start laying.
    Will they need more carbohydrates and what source do you recommend? What else do they need?
    TIA for any advice!

  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    No. Mealworms and fodder are FAR from a complete diet. It takes an incredible amount of work to home mix an appropriate diet for modern breed hens. The best diet for these birds is a commercial layer or grow mix supplemented with 10-15% scraps, fodder, and scratch. Feeding anything besides a mainly commercial diet unless you've done a massive amount of research is a good way to get poorly producing and unhealthy hens. Modern birds were created on commercial feed; the "my grandmother/people in the old days fed their hens X and X and they did fine" is not a valid argument because the birds from 100 and even 50 years ago are not even close to the birds of today. The average amount of eggs produced per year were 100-150; today most production strains can produce 250-300+. This kind of production stretches their bodies to an extreme limit; this is why it is so important they have a well balanced diet.
    2 people like this.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    QM has hit the nail on the head.

  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    x3! Mary
  5. ashleymroles

    ashleymroles In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2016
    Cato, NY
    Thanks for replying everyone. I started a tray of wheat/BOSS fodder but will use it and the mealworms as a supplement for their commercial grower (then some kind of all flock feed).

    I would really like to grow everything my chickens need and not have to worry about the mystery ingredients in store bought food. I don't know enough about specific nutrients to distinguish between good ingredients and bad ingredients in the store bought food.

    I feed my dogs taste of the wild because it is limited ingredient, grain free, and most importantly I can pronounce every ingredient. I'd like to be able to do that with my flock too.

    Can any of you recommend a soy-and-ick-free commercial food or recipes for nutritious homemade feed?
  6. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Songster

    Oct 29, 2012
    Tyro-Lexington, NC
    If you can find true heritage breed chickens (from breeders and not hatcheries) they would be better able to handle a more home-grown diet than other chickens. Think feral chickens and the fact that many live perfectly fine with no commercial feed. But then, they are not stressed by any humans to produce more eggs by giving extra light and such to affect production. So you could increase your rations of fodder versus commercial feed with older strains of breeds. It is just very hard to find such birds now a days. The compromise would be that they'd give you fewer eggs in return but if you are okay with that, it is something to think about.

    However, as stated above, doing so with typical chickens isn't recommended.

    As for feed, I do know that my local TSC sells an organic layer feed so I'm sure you could find some at your local feed store as well.

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