Dietary curiosity- "pellet" free and sustainable?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Jrose, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 6, 2013
    Happy holidays, all!

    I've read so many articles about chickens... many things are conflicting from site to site, opinion to opinion. The only thing I see over and over is YOU MUST GIVE COMMERCIAL FEED.

    I'm a bit of what I might call a "nutritarian" myself, focusing on a natural diet of veggies, meats, fruits, herbs, and seeds. Basically what humans are SUPPOSED to be eating, eating for health and nutrition.

    But what about chickens?

    During the summer my girls free range all day every day, they get daily kitchen scraps (which in this household is mostly just veggie cuttings, meat, fruit bits, etc), plus fresh garden treats. I never feed grain unless I have to leave the house and they don't get to come out of the run. They stay plump and happy all summer long.

    It stands to reason that 100 years ago no one fed their precious wheat to chickens. It was too labor intensive to grow and harvest, and too valuable to a family during the long winter months. So what else did chickens eat during the winter?


    I've noticed a pattern in the winter that frightens me; when I switch to commercial grains in the winter, I suddenly get sick hens and double-yolk eggs. I almost never get double-yolkers during the summer. This observation was confirmed to me this year when I had to spend almost 2 months away from home, during which the girls got only commercial grain. The decreased health and double-yolk eggs started again. Between 9 layers I was getting 1-2 double yolk eggs a week! This winter I'm trying a mix of non-GMO whole (not cracked or "pelleted") grain scratch, which contains wheat, corn, and a few seeds, plus wild bird seed blocks, as much pumpkin and gourd meat and seed as I can muster, and a hearty mix of organic bits including hulled sunflower seeds, flax seeds, rye, oats, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, a 9-grain cereal, whole-seed herbs, raisins, currants, the list goes on. I'm also supplementing with yogurt (one tub lasts about a week, doing this about every other month) and an occasional concoction of cooked rice, lentils, and peas with herbs, plus frequent meat/fish scraps.
    All this plus kitchen scraps as they come.
    I've also decided not to put a lamp up so they can conserve their energy until spring. Everyone is healthy and happy, full of piss and vinegar as usual. Their stools are fresh looking and well formed. Their feathers are immaculate and their eyes are bright. I'm getting an egg every 3 or 4 days, which is a fun treat.

    Right now I'm experimenting, but I'm just convinced there's a way to do this without "pellets"! I won't say without grains, because grass-seed is a staple food of most fowl, so understandably it should be a prominent part of the diet.

    Do any folks here try to feed a "natural" or "primal" type of diet, not focusing on wheat/corn as a staple food? Or how about sustainable food/crops, grown in the garden and fed throughout winter?
     
  2. Jrose

    Jrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 6, 2013
    Excellent resources, thank you so much! I don't know why, but I hadn't imagined there would be active discussion on the subject! That's really neat [​IMG]
     

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