Can you feed your chickens ENTIRELY of the land?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mustangrooster, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. mustangrooster

    mustangrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've been coming across websites and such were people are feeding their chickens MOSTLY of the land.
    Having to buy chicken feed is a pain in the butt.

    Before chickens were domesticated they live entirely of the land, right?

    Cant we cut out buying chicken feed and start feeding them entirely of the land? Is gotten me thinking..
    Already my chickens free range, and I ‘breed’ Termites for them, so that’s a start, and I feed them back their eggs.

    What about growing a vegetable and fruit garden for chickens?? What veggies and fruits would you need to meet the nutrient needs of your everyday chicken?

    If, say they got fed fruit and veggies in the morning, free range during the day find bugs and such, got fed eggs and egg shells that they lay, would that be ok?

    That would be a huge step towards sustainability, not only are you not relying on the store for your chickens feed, your also filling your chickens up with the most natural stuff you have to offer.

    OK. If that wont work, maybe buying ONE bag of chicken feed PER month to supplement the home-grown feed would be another option?

    Or if not, does anyone make their OWN brand of chicken feed?
    Im also talking Quails, Turkeys, and ducks here, so whilst maybe the chickens would take to the new feed well, how about the Quails, Turkeys and ducks? As well as meat birds, but I think we’d buy food for the meat birds.

    What are you guys thoughts, and opinions on this? Does anyone do something similar??
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2012
    Conway SC
    Its doable. If you have a lot of time and equipment you can grow a lot of things they need. You can raise lots of bugs, crickets, worms, etc, etc. If you punch a clock-----you would be more likely to stop and get a bag of feed that to come home tired and plant, grow, etc for them.

    Question--why feed them their eggs? If you get a few egg customers---you can get enough money out the eggs to buy their feed???
  3. mustangrooster

    mustangrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Okay thats a good point.

    Well i only give them an egg or two, mostly the shells, soon im going to order some meat birds, get more breeding birds, and laying hens. So not exactly ready to start selling eggs until everything is really up and running. The food costs isn't a problem, its the fact that driving all the way into town to get chicken feed multiple times a month becomes a nuisance.

    Maybe sticking with their feed is probably the best idea, but im curious of other options.
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I'm not too sure how meat birds would fare without commercial feed, and ditto layers. Maybe landrace birds would better cope with relying on foraging alone, but seasonality will significantly affect food availability and nutrition . Egg production would likely be lower with landrace birds managed in this way.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I can get very good productivity with a small number of birds on several acres during much of the year. Small number means less than a dozen. Several acres means about 6 acres. The problem for sustainability with that is losses to depredation. To protect them cost money and time requiring more production to justify effort. Then it is cheaper to import feed and restrict birds to smaller areas resulting higher densities. The equation changes somewhat if you have other livestock and dogs to protect a core area where chickens operate with minimal inputs. The livestock provide nutritional inputs not unlike you do with table waste. So long as flock small enough to meet nutritional requirements in your protective umbrella, you are OK. A big problem overall is there is not enough land for everyone to do this.
  6. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2012
    Conway SC
    Get set-up where you do not have to go multiple times a month. I get feed about once a month now but even when I had over 1200 I got my feed from Tractor Supply and only went 2 times a month. I called my feed order in, they would usually tell me it would be ready in 1/2 hour to a hour. I walked in they would call me by name and tell me my order was ready. I payed for the order and walked out to the truck, they bring my pallet of feed and set it in the back of my truck---I get home I take the tractor with frontend loader---I pick that 1/2 ton + of feed up with one finger and set it in a enclosed trailer---I am done--- Easy----LOL.

    I agree with the others on the meat birds----they are designed to EAT so they get BIG Fast---so they are still young and tender at slaughter.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    How many birds are you talking about?

    Birds can survive without commercial feed, depending on your land wand what grows there year round, but they may not thrive or be very productive.

    Depends on your goals, expectations, and risk tolerance for free ranging.

    When someone asks this, it is often brought up that grandma just threw out some corn once in while.
    The fact that grannies chickens were also gleaning from the other livestock fed on the farm and data on predation losses or production numbers is rarely mentioned.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
  9. balloonflower

    balloonflower Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2016
    Personally, I'm not sure this is worth the trouble. But, it's been touched on a bit about the type of breed--I would imagine our modern breeds would have more trouble with this as they've been bred for growth and production. Even heritage breeds are probably different than grandma's chooks that mostly foraged. Some breeds are known to be better foragers, and some like sex link hybrids are meant to be egg machines that probably need supplemental feed.
  10. James Beller

    James Beller Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 29, 2014
    North Vernon, Indiana
    Our bannies do not live in the coop so they get no grain except maybe twice a week when we throw it out to them.

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