for the self sustained homesteader

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Sammi<3chickens, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. Sammi<3chickens

    Sammi<3chickens In the Brooder

    May 11, 2010
    I'm not an expert/scientist on feeding/nutrition but...
    Do we REALLY need them? I mean yeah, it is convienet, and good for the people who just want animals, and have no desire to free range of feed natural foods and such, just open a bag and feed, no questions asked...not downing that person by any means, just explaining my point.

    I want to start "serving" my own whole grain and foods. I went to my feed store and asked the owner who is a vet tech and animal nutrition teacher, what kind of separate whole grains she had. She asked me what for, I didnt want to tell her because I didnt what to get the third degree of how bad that is blah blah. She said that at the grain company, they have scientist who fallow a chart that formulates what they need and they put it into a pellet. She was going on about all this scientific stuff. "If you give to much of this, it could be fatal, they may not get this, or this, ect, ect..."
    But really...??? What does a true free range chicken or wild bird eat?? Grains, grasses, weeds, sprouts, berries, bugs. They get their nutrition, vitamins, minerals and trace minerals through all of that. And while if you give a chicken nothing but say grain, or nothing but bugs/protien source, they may get a vitamin overdose and a deficiency. But if you give them everything, and enough of it, a choice, I really believe they will eat what they need at that given time. I believe nature made it so they know what they need and will seek it out by natural choice.

    I want to do an experiment. I want to give them free choice of foods. I dont want to measure. I want them to eat what they want, when they want. While they free range, they may not be getting everything, so I need to give them what they dont get. I cant really do this until I have a good supply of bugs and a good protein source. I want to do worms, I think would be the easiest non timid way. I need to focus on my compost and a way to encourage a good bug population.
    Any suggestions???
    What do you think about all this?? Anyone agree with me?
    Thanks for listening.

  2. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    Sammi<3chickens :

    if you give them everything, and enough of it, a choice, I really believe they will eat what they need at that given time. I believe nature made it so they know what they need and will seek it out by natural choice.

    I agree with this. A lot of the strictness some feel about feed amounts is based on research done on chickens who got to eat nothing but what they were given - not foragers. Of course, it might depend on how well you can mimic true, natural, foraging choices. If you have a very small yard, etc., that might be difficult to simulate.

    I would love to grow my chickens' food. I haven't gotten that far yet. I try to choose a high protein food with out unneeded medications so that when my chickens eat something they didn't forage, it's healthy for them.​
  3. I'd love to grow my own chicken food so I'm dying to hear responses, but I know that my chickens have not necessarily sought out good nutrition choices for themselves, they will prefer scratch over anything else. They are more like junk food junkies!
  4. viktoriacl

    viktoriacl Songster

    Jun 23, 2010
    I think your thought process is generally accurate. I would just add that birds in the wild as well as wild chickens probably dont like nearly as long and probably get diseases/infections and such. We are all just aiming to keep or girls super healthy. Sort of like people in Countries that dont have tons of good food and water survive but probably not as long or as well as people in developed countries. Just my little thought [​IMG]

  5. Sammi<3chickens

    Sammi<3chickens In the Brooder

    May 11, 2010
    I think it would be important to offer everything that they could need.

    I'm not so sure that scratch is unhealthy...Because besides it being crushed which can make it actuly go rancid quicker then whole, and as as soon as it is cracked it starts to loose some of its nutritional factor, scratch is basicly whole grains, grains which you would buy separately if you were doing a whole grain diet, except mixed.

    I'm not so sure, though I dont really know that a wild animal would die of poor nutrition unless there was a lack of food for that particular animal that season, kwim? If we were to make sure to provide enough food for them all the time, I think they would be extremely healthy, if not more healthy then a pellet feed would be.
    I am a natural foods person and here is my explanation. A pellet feed has crushed all sorts of stuff, including (guessing here) man made vitamins which I dont believe is as valuable and if not more harmful then anything. And like I said, once a grain is crushed, it goes rancid quicker and looses its nutritional value. Think of flour. You can keep a whole grain much longer then you can once you mill it into four, with in a few weeks/months it goes rancid. Rancid food is not good for you. Also, a chicken would eat a living bug. Not a dead bug. which I believe also has its cons.
  6. Sammi<3chickens :

    I'm not an expert/scientist on feeding/nutrition but....

    Nope you don't need nutritionists like me. :)

    I'll go tell my wife I need to get a new job then. :)

  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    My grandmother never bought a bag of chicken feed in her life. She fed shelled corn to her flock and corn meal to the chicks. Her birds free ranged in the cow pasture and pretty much obtained all they needed as supplemental feed there.

    I'm not fond of nutritionism myself....look what its done for humans~every month its some new nutrition fad...low-fat, no carb, all proteins, etc. [​IMG]

    A true free ranged flock that has a good range on which to forage, can find most of their nutritive needs for most of the year. Supplementing their choices with whole grains seems like a good plan....I wouldn't get too caught up in this or that nutrient level or fear of deficiencies. Its chickens and its just not that hard~no "experts" needed.

  8. LovinMyPeeps

    LovinMyPeeps Sees Wine Dots

    Mar 22, 2009
    Heuvelton, NY
    I am very interested in this as well. The other day I went to buy grain and my wholesaler was out of the organic I buy. So I shrugged, trotted off to the healthfood store and bought bulk quantities of things I knew was in it, and other choices. I added cracked corn, millet, wheat berries, steel cut oat, and I should add that my girls free range for about 12 hours a day right now. Always have access to clean water and I supplement them with treats like boiled egg, squash, pumpkin, fresh corn and tomatoes. They seem to be pretty shiny, happy and healthy as a rule.
  9. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Your grandmother's way is the way people used to keep chickens. When did they start making commercial chicken feed, anyway? It has to be long after people started keeping chickens. Around here, some people buy feed, others call it feeding them when they buy cracked corn or scratch, and the chickens free range.

    I suspect it depends on what is available in their usual range. I have heard of studies that indicate that chickens can, indeed, survive like this, but they are not as healthy, and they are thinner and weigh less.

    It wasn't so many years ago that formula makers claimed human babies were healthier if bottle fed. We know how that came out.

    In the end, it's a personal choice. I do both, free range and offer feed. Some months they eat a whole lot more feed than other months, and they have access to some rather old woods and to a cow pasture. They certainly eat less feed than the ones I've kept in a fenced yard, even a large one. But when you cut open a free ranger's crop and find it full of grass, which I have done, you wonder how nutritious their foraging is.

    I have to agree about nutritionists -- I got tired of that stuff a long time ago.

  10. Lotsapaints

    Lotsapaints Songster

    Mar 17, 2010
    Paso Robles, CA
    I sprout my grains , barley ,wheat, oats and Boss have a feed mill close really 3 of them buy freshly ground coarse feed layer and a grower for my chickens I add flax and keep those out free choice my chickens don't eat much of that ground food they love their sprouts....laying bigger eggs mostly an egg a day too look so pretty and shiny they always prefer bugs, seeds, grass and grains humm that's what they would eat if they were wild. Mine don't care much for corn either unless it's fresh this way mine don't get much soybean meal either. They poop less and it's a firmer kind than when they were just on store bought crumbles.....I don't know that I save much money but my chickens seem happy and not hungry all the time. This way works for me where I live so I'm happy.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by