Feeding without purchasing feed


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
Hello. I am so very new to chickens. I have purchased 4 hens; 2 golden comets (said to be egg laying age) and 2 Buff Orpingtons still a wee bit young to produce. We built a chicken coop out of recycled material but definately plan on free ranging them once they figure out there "home" is. We have had them approximately 4 days and still no eggs. There is water, food, nesting areas and some hay to make them comfy, oh and a roost...is there something I am missing?

I am attempting to feed them, at the moment, without purchasing feed; simply using table scraps. First question, how much does a chicken eat? Second thought, I am afraid they arent getting enough protein off the veggie seeds I've been feeding. Suggestions for uping the protien? I am considering giving them my dying sunflowers and scavenging for acorns...

Also, I have seen lots of posts about oyster shells for calcium...we live by a river that gets clam shells washed up...suppose these would work the same way?

Thanks :)

Last edited:
Is there some reason you are not buying "laying pellets or mash" for them?

If you expect eggs from them, you have to feed them properly. I am sorry to tell you that table scraps are not going to "cut it".

Protein, calcium and fiber are all VERY important to good health.
...well, since chickens werent always domesticated and even then not always fed laying pellets and mash, i figured i could get away without feeding such things...especially since my plan was to have them free range most of the time...i was hoping to find alternative feeding routes to provide them with enough nutrition.
There is a huge diversity of farmers and hobby farmers on this site and I have read of a couple of other people on here that do all or mostly pastured diet. I believe they have a lot of land and are carefully planting crops -- not sure of their exact methods. Protein and calcium are definitely going to be an issue for you so I would make sure to research nutrition, keeping in mind that diet is about balance, and find ways to supplement those things in their diet and to be on the look out for signs for that your birds are not thriving as they should. Some vegetables and grains have higher protein levels and calcium so you may want to research what to plant. You can very easily and cheaply farm your own mealworms.

Most free rangers still supplement with feed or at least with grains and calcium but to each their own. I believe that you could make it work if you plan very carefully and read a lot -- backyard grass and table scraps are not going to be enough for good health and egg production but if your set up is a larger pasture operation then it might be possible.

Not sure where you are but make sure you are planning for all seasons.

Yes, chickens are decedents of Jungle fowl and other wild birds but there is no such thing as a wild chicken and they ARE domesticated animals with many many many generations of selective breeding so you do have to set them up for success. There are lots of alternatives to standard commercial feed but you still have to make sure they are fed.
Last edited:
how does one farm meal worms?

we have approximately 300 acres of farm land that has basically "gone to seed". i feel that there is, no doubt, plenty nutritionally sound items for them to eat I just have to bring it near enough to their location; understanding that i will likely find eggs outside of the coop and loose a chicken once in a while.
Sounds like you have a plan, but you may try farming some worms of sorts. I know they do need protein, however they will pick up bugs here and there for sure with that amount of land.

Some Amish folks do not grain feed their chickens, but grass feed.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom