If feed stores closed and you can’t free range...

Cryss

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
4,007
9,826
727
Northwest New Jersey
I do not want to start a panic, rather a conversation. No I haven’t heard rumors of feed shortages. Yes we all are aware of the virus situation in the United States and everywhere in the world.
Just for the sake of conversation If someone needs to decide to stop buying feed and could not free range what would be your go to way of feeding your flock?
Yes we all know free range is the ideal. This discussion is about a situation where that is not an option, neither is purchasing grains. Let’s just include the thought that this is not a farm with fields to grow tons of grain but perhaps a “backyard garden” could include a bit dedicated to chickens. Let’s discuss this in terms of various seasonal and environmental conditions. Let’s also include that you are not open to the idea that you should stop raising chickens because you can’t afford them. This isn’t about affordability. It’s just a discussion.
What would you feed your flock? What would you grow for them? What would you do in winter?
If this discussion becomes problematic I request moderators to remove it. Let’s just enjoy exchanging ideas.
I’ve had some thoughts. I have a small framed chicken garden in their run so they can eat greens through a wire barrier without destroying roots. Perhaps I could expand that idea with frames of various heights to allow more mature growth an possible fruiting. Maybe grow a protected amaranth plant to allow the grain to fall for the chickens to eat.
I have other thoughts to share but let’s start there.
Your turn.:)
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
2,704
5,640
382
Good idea to plan ahead. People are starting to go nuts, which threatens everything.

Mealworms, soldier fly larvae, perrennials like comfrey. I hope to get going this summer a coldframe where I can grow collards and such year round, with compost pile that I can let the chickens occasionally pick through
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
5,314
10,836
691
Central PA
No free range at all? I'd be getting rid of the chickens and keeping geese. For them, I can cut weeds through most of the year, and supplement with some squash and old lettuce. I wouldn't get many eggs, but I wouldn't be getting them from the chickens either, and I'd be able to raise a pretty decent-sized bird in a short amount of time with little effort.
 

Cryss

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
4,007
9,826
727
Northwest New Jersey
No free range at all? I'd be getting rid of the chickens and keeping geese. For them, I can cut weeds through most of the year, and supplement with some squash and old lettuce. I wouldn't get many eggs, but I wouldn't be getting them from the chickens either, and I'd be able to raise a pretty decent-sized bird in a short amount of time with little effort.
What you would do for your geese I already do for my chickens. They eat weeds and grass clippings and kitchen scraps and garden failures. So why get rid of chickens? Remember the parameters of the discussion is about someone who cannot freerange and won’t get rid of them. Maybe imagine they live inner city and raise a few chickens on the roof of an apartment building. Can’t free range. They’ll fly off the roof to their death. Won’t get rid of them. They are pets, or they provide food. Whatever, it ain’t happening, especially not for geese on a rooftop!😂🤣
So what would you do?
 

Cryss

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
4,007
9,826
727
Northwest New Jersey
Good idea to plan ahead. People are starting to go nuts, which threatens everything.

Mealworms, soldier fly larvae, perrennials like comfrey. I hope to get going this summer a coldframe where I can grow collards and such year round, with compost pile that I can let the chickens occasionally pick through
Now we’re thinking! Good ideas! Hmmmm. Could chickens be allowed to pick through compost at will? Maybe that’s where the compost pile needs to live?
 

igorsMistress

Crossing the road barefoot.
Premium member
7 Years
Apr 9, 2013
14,864
72,216
1,382
My Coop
My Coop
My flock has access to a compost pile year round and I feed them from my garden but it's not enough to maintain them. They can snack on greens through chicken wire and they have a grass frame to graze. I prepare the best I can and keep a couple months of feed on hand. If getting feed became a problem for more than a month I'd be forced to downsize. My chickens would still provide meals as meat for the table. After that, it would depend on the situation.
 

AltonaAcres

Crowing
Jan 13, 2019
1,133
2,333
251
I personally don't think animal feed stores will be running out of stock like supermarkets are. I mean there are more people than farm animals in most medium sized towns, and animals aren't affected by the virus (I have heard varying opinions on that) so I won't worry unless the situation gets way worse
 

Aquatic_blue

Songster
May 14, 2019
202
478
113
Interesting topic. If it came down to it, I wouls go foraging while I am waiting for plants in the garden to grow. I know of weeds around here that are safe that the chickens love, and I would probably bring any bugs back that I could. We have a bit of wild desert around here so foraging wouldn't be impossible. I may ask others of they have produce they won't use, plenty of bugs, or yard clippings.

If I were growing, I would probably grow their favorites whenever possible - spinach, cilantro, watermelon, tomatoes, etc.
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,148
18,077
622
South Park, Colorado, USA
For starters, any eggs laid would probably have to go right back to the flock. We have a very short growing season, even with my cold frames, so that would really only help part of the year, I do like to grow mixed greens in there and I like to just pick leaves off to use so that the main plant keeps growing and producing as long as possible before I harvest the entire head of romaine/lettuce/etc. Our forage isn't great due to the short growing season, but we do have a good variety of wild grasses including quite a bit of wild wheat. I would tap into this naturally abundant plant. The idea of wire frames is appealing and it must be able to go to seed at some point to self sustain. Another random thought, if times were really hard, would be live traps for rodents that could then be fed to the flock. More fortification against wild birds to limit food theft would be important as well. I'm curious to hear the ideas of others. Natural vermiculture techniques is something I'd like to explore to encourage earthworms to grow and gather where the girls could find them.
 

CraftyHen

Songster
Aug 27, 2016
54
309
103
Not because of the virus, but because I want one, I'm adding a greenhouse to extend gardening season here. The chickens and rabbits eat same veggies we like and I always plant the gardens with them in mind as well. I've had success planting vines like cucumber outside the run and let it climb. In addition to a dedicated compost area the run doubles as a secondary compost too. I think its crucial to have some ability to grow food, be it veggies or meat. The break down of our social structure is far more worrisome than the actual virus for "most". At least it's not a zombie apocalypse.:sick
 
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