Is this diet OK for Chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by canSttent, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm raising Rhodebar chickens.

    They have 1 acre to feed from, at all times. The acre is grass only, so they eat the seeds (bermuda), grass and bugs.

    I give them fruits, veggies, and meat from my own food (leftovers... nothing fatty or with oils). Their favorite food, by far, is meat. For example, I may throw out: kale and berries, or a whole watermelon and whole head of cabbage, or a handful of turkey meat and veggies

    Their "grain" feed is the following:
    Hemp seeds
    Millet
    Flax seeds
    Hulled sunflower seeds
    Chia seeds
    sesame seeds
    seaweed.

    Obviously you can tell I don't like to feed my chickens corn, soy, or wheat (on the fence about this one). I'm trying to feed them close to a natural diet of their ancestors, which would be mostly seeds, fruits, vegetation and meat (bugs, dead animals, rodents, etc.).

    My question is regarding the seeds I feed them as supplement... are any of the items redundant (not that that would be pad, per say)? Bad for chickens? etc.

    Thank you very much for your time.
     
  2. BarredBuff

    BarredBuff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    I don't see anything wrong with your diet. The main thing is that they get enough protein for good egg production, and to remain healthy looking. Feathers should be shiny, they should have a normal weight, and combs should be bright red.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 9, 2014
    Very red combs.
    Egg yolks are a deep orange.
    Very shiny feathers, with no ugly patches or missing feathers.
    Perfect weight.
     
  4. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    I do what you do with some differenes and I have 6 year and maybe older (lost count) hens that are still laying like when I got them as spring chickens. They don't molt and they never stop laying in the intense 100 degree weather we have all summer of the 20 degree cold we're having this winter. The only time I've lost hens or had molts is when I DIDN'T do what you're doing.

    I soak a large variety of raw organic seeds - meaning I let them sit in water overnight and rinse to get rid of enzyme inhibitors and increase nutrient content dramatically and make them even more yummy.

    I feed my chickens raw grass-fed ground up cow including the organs. At least an ounce a day per chicken. This gives them the fat and protein and many other elements necessary to give birth every day and to provide me with the "perfect" protein. They can't find enough bugs to provide sufficient protein here (and it would be rare place they could) and the soaked seeds are only 30% protein - not enough. I give them extra raw suet in the summer. Sometimes I through them whole small wild-caughtfish and they are a hoot to watch as they tear it apart. Chickens are carnivores and especially layers that need tremendous amounts of quality raw protein every day to continue to lay. Fat and protein are not a problem if they are in their natural raw state and if the meat is from animals that are get a proper raw species specific diet themselves. I only will give grass-fed and wild caught raw meat to my birds and live WELL-FED or wild bugs. It is the fats in particular that gets so easily de-natured with heat and very hard for their bodies to process so if I feed them anything cooked it's the vegetables but never fat. My chickens get lots of fat and are thriving because it's great quality raw fat.

    Besides the soaking of the seeds the most important thing you are missing is a good methionine source. Egg whites are one of the very best sources for methionine in the human diet so the chickens absolutely have to have enough in order to lay eggs all the time. We've bred the chickens to do an unnatural thing. No bird is going to lay hundreds of eggs in the wild every year! So you have to give them a good source of methionine if they are going to be able to continue to lay. The only other good source besides feeding the chickens back their own eggs whites (which is what I do) that I've been able to come up with is to provide the chickens with whey. That's the only other food source that I've found that has a high enough methionine content. It also is a generally great source of protein and other nutrients. Methionine is so incredibly important that even if you can't find raw or grass-fed - they still will need it.

    If you want to go one step further then add in some cayenne and tumeric powder (especially in the winter) not only to provide natural carotenoids which are so necessary for being able to continue to lay, but also will prevent the most common of diseases and help to keep your hens amazingly healthy - at least that works for mine! I know quite a bit about herbalism and those two powders are what I make sure my chickens get. I actually grow my own cayenne for them. Birds don't taste hot spicy like we do and just love the taste of cayenne and can eat bucket loads and never say ouch.

    Oh - and don't forget to dry out your eggs shells, crush them and feed them back to the chickens to not deplete their minerals. Seaweeds are great too, but giving them back their own eggs if possible is the best. Oyster shells and seaweed go on top of their eggshells if you can. If you don't have a dehydrator you can just wash them and air dry them on your countertop. I like my dehydrator because then I don't wash them and the coating of egg whites dry inside and they get that back too.

    I personally think you are on the path to having the best diet possible for chickens that I've been able to figure out and I've been experimenting with this for quite a few years. Bravo!

    Oh - and btw - soaked whole organic wheatberries are very different than ground up dry stuff. Wheat grass and wheatberry sprouts are definitely in my sprout mixes.

    I however do not use flax or chia in my sprouting every day because they are so glutinous. I use those in making special treats in my dehydrator that include the cayenne, tumeric, powered eggs shells and other sundries. The glutinous nature of soaking those seeds make them perfect for holding together the "chicken crackers or nuggets" as I like to call them but are a pain to rinse and feed with other seeds. I do however add a much larger variety of seeds than you do even including sprouted brown rice. I do not add any beans and my chickens don't care for lentils much so I don't use those.

    This method of feeding doesn't make much sense on a farm with a large number of animals but for me in my small yard it has made it so that I never have to cull or get more chickens which given my small space and my attachment to my pets and the absolutely incredible quality of the eggs and health of the chickens makes it worth it for me.

    I've never seen egg yolks the color that mine are or have had an egg that tastes anything like mine or known of other hens that keep on laying all the time even when elderly. Most people don't want to go through the trouble and expense but since you are already on your way you might like to step it up just a notch and get all the long-term benefits.

    Again, kudos to you!
     
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  5. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, DorothyH.

    The tips are great, I will def. start using the pepper and turmeric!

    Another question regarding feed... I eat whole chickens, then I boil down the bones and clung on meat for broth. After I'm finished with the broth, I pick out the bones and feed the meat and organs to my chickens... is this an OK thing to do? Feed chickens to chickens?

    I do this with any broth, be it beef, turkey, etc.

    The hens freaking love it, go crazy for the meat. They never pick at each other, or their eggs (I feed them broken up hard-boiled eggs).
     
  6. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    Found my answer regarding chickens eating chicken. :)
     
  7. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    With the amount of fresh greens your chickens get the whey would be even more important than the pepper and tumeric because it seems to me with the diet that you are feeding the one really MISSING nutrient would be the methionine unless you are feeding them eggs. The pepper and tumeric I would put second to that. Your chickens I'm sure are getting lots of carotenoids eating the greens. The tumeric and cayenne have other functions as well - but will be useless if there is no methionine in the diet because chickens just gotta have that.

    Chickens eating chickens is actually the best way to for chickens to get what chickens need to grow chickens cells in themselves. Some people are a little too weirded out by it understandably, but since the chickens are well-cooked there shouldn't be a problem on a microbial level. I'm not sure I would feel great about feeding chickens raw chicken from other places but your own though would be fine - but still - a chicken that is fed a completely raw species specific diet as I described has such an intensely strong immune system that even feeding raw chicken from other places would probably still be fine. When it comes to microbes everything depends on the strength of the immune system and immune systems are strengthened by raw species specific diets.

    The issue with your broth is that the fat is cooked which makes it then harder on the liver. Tumeric will indeed help with their liver functioning so for that reason alone I would add the tumeric. The question of course is how many chickens you have, do you mind culling them if they stop laying and what kind of expense and effort are you willing to go through?

    If you are going to cull then it won't matter if their diet isn't perfect and inmho it's more important for the chickens to get that meat and organs and minerals from those foods than not to get them at all. The BEST is to feed those things in the form of animals that are getting their own raw species specific diet and then feeding it all raw - but if that's not going to happen, you have the stuff and don't want to waste it, or it's not a major part of their diet and is just a treat then of course - it's wonderful! That broth is filled with valuable minerals from the bones especially.

    So much better than feeding chickens ground up denatured and rancid fats from old ground up seed mixes and crumbles that's for sure! [​IMG] You have vastly improved over the standard feed mixes with such foods and how far you want to go is up to you of course.
     
  8. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    I guess I'm not understanding the whey. If my hens diets are close to natural (evolutionary diet, so to speak), why the whey? What is in whey that they don't get from fruit, greens, seeds and a plethora of different proteins (including organs)?

    I only have 10 chickens at the moment, plan on getting more... trying to find a way to make it cheap. Seeing as my diet only includes: meats, eggs, vegg, fruits, nuts, and seeds, it's easy to feed them leftovers and not think twice... it's the seeds that get expensive on a larger scale, I'd imagine.
     
  9. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    Your hens diets are close to natural and evolutionary but your HENS AREN'T!

    A wild chicken would lay maybe two clutches a year? depleting it's system of only that much protein, fat, carotenoids and METHIONINE. Your legbars however are heavy layers of probably 250 or more eggs a year - that's very unnatural.

    In order to make up for in essence giving birth almost every day of the year (imagine the nutritional need increase if humans gave birth every day!) you need to provide the equivalent of everything that is going into that egg on a daily basis and then some for the hen to live on in order to balance the fact that we have bred into the chicken this mutant super ability to provide us with an unnatural amount of their superfood - the egg.

    The ONLY source of enough methionine is either to feed back the whites back or provide whey. Look up what methionine is and you'll understand. You want to provide a natural source and whey is the only one. In the wild a bird eating lots of different bugs and even pregnant small animals or lizard eggs or whatever would have enough to spare for a dozen eggs - but not for 300!

    You can't get enough methionine feeding meat, fat, bugs or produce or seeds. Egg whites are such an incredibly rich source of methionine that you have to go to another super rich source in order to provide it for your hens if you want them to be able to continue laying long-term. When they run out of their stores they just can't lay any more. If you want your hens to be super mutants and lay not only for 1 or 2 years for a lifetime you have to go above and beyond and feed THEM some superfood. ;)
     
  10. canSttent

    canSttent Out Of The Brooder

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    Fantastic, now I understand fully. Thank you very much for your help. Enjoy your deep orange eggs, friend :)
     

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