We've got eight chicks at the moment. They are eating the Purina starter. We're looking to end up with four hens and a rooster. If we end up with four hens and four roosters than three of the roosters will be culled leaving us with a flock of five. Of course, if we end up with seven hens and one rooster we'll keep all the birds. I'm looking to feed this flock on as little as possible-- money wise. Ideally my input would be compost, kitchen scraps, and grocery store discardings alone. I don't know if I will be able to create/obtain this much material to sustain eight birds. So I've sourced whole barley from my local co-op for $7/50# bag and plan to supplement with fodder. I additionally plan to have mature bushes in their 2000 square foot run to help supplement them (honeysuckle, elderberry, mulberry, blackberry) and I have just sown Bocking #4 for them to forage as well as to add to the compost. Lastly I can source free straw from our horses for deep bedding to add an additional location for protein, and spoiled grain and sunflower feeds from the horses for additional feed when needed. Lastly, I will add milk, egg shells, and meat cuttings as they become available. Does this seem like a sustainable and relatively cheap means of feeding them? My only financial expense that goes solely into the chickens is the barley. I hope that at the peak of the summer I won't need to even use this and really expect this to be needed more in the colder half of the year. How do I go about gauging the amount of feed needed when I plan for them to be foraging for most of their food? Anyone else who uses a compost system for the bulk of chicken feed have any input? I know it's definitely viable as there are numerous videos and articles outlining it. For fodder everything says that they need between 2 and 3% of their body weight in fodder each day plus a supplement of grit and calcium. That comes out to about a pound of sprouted barley per day for a flock of five. Does that sound a little on the low side to anyone else? Lastly, what is the best way to introduce chicks to foraging, scratching, bugs, and greens? I threw some spinach into their brood box yesterday and a few of them played with it, but none consumed any of it. Can I put a shallow tray of dirt with bugs into their brooder and let them figure out scratching and then also just keep up on the greens? For reference, these chicks have been with us since the 11th, which puts them almost three weeks since we bought them at Tractor Supply. That's as approximate on age as I can get.