feed question


9 Years
Apr 17, 2010
in the Pyrenees
My birds free range here, and we have what I'd call excellent insect and worm populations on the farm. A huge manure pile, (the local bedding is a wild fern and it composts well), with lots of worms, grasshoppers, katydids, beetles and lots more. Outside of winter when the insects are not available, is this enough to augment feeding laying hens only corn and wheat? We have a horse and donkeys, so lots of larvae there too.

I've searched and read several threads about protein content, and am not against adding cooked soybeans and the like, but was just curious about the real value of the insects and worms.


I cannot quote any scientific study about protein content from grasshoppers. When I grew up on the farm, we never supplemented the feed unless there was snow on the ground. Well, maybe some corn in the winter. We had horses and cows, so they could scavenge some seeds from the hay, but there was not a mad rush when we threw the hay on the ground, so I doubt that grain was a major part of their feed requirements, even in winter. Of course, we did not have snow on the ground that often. I suspect you have different circumstances in the Pyrenees so more supplements may be required.

This was a barnyard flock, raised by broodies that taught them to forage. We did not get an egg from every hen every day, but in the decent weather months, we got plenty of good sized eggs. And the chickens stayed very healthy.

I don't know about the protein content of worms and insects. I do think they get quite a bit of protein from the other stuff they eat, such as grass and weed seeds. Will you get fat chickens that lay double extra huge eggs every day. I doubt it. But you might find that that your results are acceptable if you don't pay much for feed.

That was sort of my feeling. I'm not raising meat birds to sell, and I really think the forage quality here is great. So many insects I stopped seeing years ago in California are abundant here, and there are lots of wild plant seeds as well.

A few cooked soybeans now and then in the winter wouldn't hurt, it sounds like though. Around here, they don't even sell chicken feed in the feed stores, (except for starter), as the locals probably wouldn't pay for it. They are all feeding sheep, pigs and cattle, so the chickens get the leftovers.



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