Author/breeder Gail Damerow:I actually have tried to pick up some bugs and earthworms for them when I can, we have tons of ladybugs lately. We also have a ton of slugs, but I heard the sticky residue can bother their throat? We don't have much winter to speak of, so things grow here well all year, I just need to figure what is good. Do sunflower seeds need to be peeled? We are just getting some pumpkins out of the fields now.
"Chicken starter ration (“chick starter”) is available in most locations. Starter rations are higher in protein and lower in calories than rations designed for older poultry. Never feed layer ration to babies, even as an emergency measure if you run out of starter; the higher calcium content of the layer ration can seriously damage young kidneys. If you do run out of starter, or you forget to pick some up before your hatchlings arrive, you can make an emergency starter ration by cracking scratch grains in the blender or, if you have no scratch, by running a little uncooked oatmeal through the blender and mixing it 50/50 with cornmeal. Grains are high in calories and low in the protein, vitamins, and minerals needed for good growth and health, so don’t use this mixture any longer than a day or two. If you have extra eggs on hand, mashed hard-boiled or scrambled egg makes an excellent starter ration.
In the old days before commercial rations were available, farmers typically started their chicks on mashed boiled eggs. After the first few days, chicks were fed oatmeal and cracked grains until they got big enough to forage for themselves. Baby birds that are fed cracked grains also need grit, provided in a separate feeder. If your local farm store doesn’t carry chick grit, a suitable substitute is cage-bird grit from a pet store or clean sand from a builder’s supply."