Just happy to be here....

Scratch4Food

Hatching
May 18, 2015
2
0
7
Hi everyone! I'm a newbie to raising chickens and rather than ease in, I decided to jump in with both feet. We got 37 chicks in the mail just last Wednesday -- 11 Buff Orpington cockerels and 26 Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets -- from Mt. Healthy Hatchery. All the chicks arrived healthy and are absolutely thriving so far. My mom is keeping an eye on them during the brooder stage -- we have 3 cardboard boxes connected with small "doorways" at her house -- and then we will begin tractoring them at my house a few miles away once they're ready to be outside (and I have the tractors built). I'm raising them along the lines of Geoff Lawton's "Chicken Tractor on Steroids" -- using them to help make 1 CY of high-quality compost per week, subsisting largely from the food scraps and worms and bugs that proliferate the compost piles.

But right now, I'm just having too much fun watching their antics. All we have to do is drop a few mealworms down into their brooder, and step back and watch the chaos that unfolds.

If anyone out there has any experience paddock-shifting birds with electronet and/or raising them primarily on food scraps and compost forage, I'd appreciate any lessons you've learned in the process. Thanks!
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
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Aug 26, 2009
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Out to pasture
I would wonder if food scraps and forage are nutritionally complete for growing chicks. Or am I misunderstanding your post? Very young chicks need grit to help digest bugs and mealworms.
 

Scratch4Food

Hatching
May 18, 2015
2
0
7
Hi drumstick diva,

I think I was a little unclear in my initial post based on your reply. We are feeding the chicks starter mix for the first several weeks, but also giving them lots of cut and rooted greens (mustards, clover, dandelion, deadnettle, lambsquarter, etc.), dried mealworms, and even handfuls of cured compost to get them accustomed to scratching and foraging. We also are sure to keep their grit topped off at all times. The goal is that by the time they're put out to pasture, they'll be ready to start scratching and foraging for their food, and I'll be leveraging that activity by adding a cubic yard of compostable materials (week old bedding from the tractors, composted horse manure, food waste, lawn clippings, and shredded leaves) every week inside their fenced paddock. The piles will be turned over every week, giving the chooks access to all of the worms and bugs and grubs that will be infiltrating it. At the end of week 4, the pile is finished and comes out for the garden.

edited by staff
 
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