New chickener here: advice on homemade feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by glib, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. glib

    glib Songster

    Dec 8, 2007

    I have read numerous posts here on care and feeding of the little ones. I have noticed with amazement that when my neighbors let their chicken free-range, they do not touch their feed, being perfectly content with grass and bugs. I figure that their ideal diet, given a choice, is not so different from our ideal diet. I also noticed that when I give a few buckets of blemished pears to one of the neighbors, the chicken clearly like them and eat them day after day.

    So I am wondering if I can go solo with the feed. I could, presumably, buy grains and oyster shells alone, and mix them with other stuff I have. For example, with other families we buy a grass-fed cow every year, and I can get the lungs and tripe, as well as other scrapmeat, as pet food for free. That is a good 50-80lb of high fat, high protein stuff that can sit with the other meat in the freezer through the winter and be fed to them a few ounces a day.

    We also have two vegetable gardens, so lots of stuff for them, and I can send my daughter down the street to collect pumpkins on Nov. 1, to store with our other winter squash in the cellar. Is there any counterindication in feeding them too many veggies? It surely would be healthy for them and for the eggs nutrient content.
  2. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    you can overdo the meat....too much protein will cause problems
  3. okiechick57

    okiechick57 Songster

    [​IMG] Welcome Glib..............I cant help you much with your questions sorry. I do know protein can be bad in large amounts. Mine all freerange during the day and have feed inside the run at night. but wanted to say HOWDY [​IMG] sounds like your chickens will be spoiled rotten [​IMG]
  4. SandraChick

    SandraChick Songster

    Well....your thoughts are not too far from what I practice!!!!

    1. I have chicken feed free choice in case they want it...but they hardly go through any of it. If I didn't have ducks...I'd have to buy feed in 5# bags to keep it from spoiling! They do go through a little more when there is bad weather as they don't forage as much.

    2. Oyster shell is out there free choice 24/7--they vary how much they use and I've noticed a correlation with how many bugs are available (due to weather mostly).

    3. My chickens get all my leftovers (we are "healthy eaters"). The only thing I really watch for closely is salt content. With truly free range chickens, I feel they self regulate their diet very well...except they suck at salt I do that for them.

    4. My family are hunters/fishermen....chickens get ALL the scraps when we butcher (yes raw). Whatever is too much is ground and then frozen in small "treat size" pouches. I bring out the pouches when they need extra protein treats (mostly in the winter when natural sources are low and also during moult).

    5. I put plastic net fences around garden veggies that my chickens love so I can have some for myself. But at the end of the season, I let them at it before I rip the roots out of the ground.

    Like I said...chickens that truly free range and have access to many types of food balance their own diet. I have seen time and time again, the chickens go nuts for a treat and then if there is a lot out there, they just leave and go eat some grass or something. Scratch and sunflower seeds are also available 24/7 because we feed the wild birds with it....They will follow me when I fill the feeders and spread the scratch--but it only takes a couple minutes for them to move on to some other delicious treat like dandelion heads, or bugs, or even some good ol' grass!

    Well...that's what I do.
  5. glib

    glib Songster

    Dec 8, 2007
    Thanks to all, specially to Sandra. As a matter of fact I was planning to employ the chickens to clear my gardens. I have a winter garden, which gets cleared in May (I have hoophouses there in the winter for winter greens and roots), and a summer garden that gets cleared in October after first frost (this one also has the onions and the garlic). Specially the winter garden has a slug problem, which I am sure they will deal with.

    I am hoping that they will not learn to fly into the fenced gardens, they will be large breeds and there is an electric wire at the top of the fence, hopefully one of them will touch it and let the rest know it is a bad idea. I am aware that, as much as they like grass, they like lettuce even more.

    And I had planned to grind the cow lungs and put them in ziploc bags in the freezer for winter support. They can not forage for about two months in the winter (our ground is frozen Dec.15-Feb.15), so I figured that is when they need it. Why waste all that meat? Thanks for the warnings about limiting their intake.

    Our scraps are also healthy, as we prepare everything from scratch, and of course large amounts of chicken veggies are produced by cleaning human veggies. For example, in the winter carrots or beets get juiced, and the pulp is for the chicken, or we harvest radicchio and eat only the heart, throwing the blemished outer leaves out. I was not aware of the potential salt problem, thanks for the heads up.
  6. pattycake

    pattycake Songster

    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    I've heard that chickens' feathers protect them from electric fences, so you might want to look that up! It'll keep the predators out, but not them in.
  7. Quote:I've noticed the same thing. I quit worrying about giving them too much of what lots of people call 'treats' b/c they would FAR rather go forage than eat the extra cracked corn I toss out. Yesterday ZsaZsa turned up her nose at cheese, amazing. "I"d rather go find a bug" was her attitude. [​IMG]
  8. skeeter

    skeeter Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Parma Idaho
    i have a hard time feeding animal byproducts back to animals i use for my own food,to include eggs
  9. CountryFresh

    CountryFresh In the Brooder

    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Virginia
    Thanks for the great info...

    Learning a lot [​IMG]
  10. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    I'm planning to do the same thing with the scraps/offal from our grass-fed cow and organic pig we share with 3 other families.

    Like Skeeter, I have problems with animal feeds that contain animal by-products, but that is because I don't want to ever ingest the fats or liver of commercially-raised animals, which are highly concentrated with all the chemicals, hormones, pesticide/herbicide residues, and meds that those factory-farmed animals are exposed to. With these locally-raised, 100% organic animals, whose farmers I know and trust, I feel good about feeding the by-products. It's healthy protein and fat (especially in our long winter when there are no bugs for the girls to catch) and I'd much rather see those parts of the animal used constructively than thrown away.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Glib, another idea for you: I go to the local health food stores and big "natural foods" markets and ask the produce folks for past-due veggies. Unlike regular big-chain grocers, who won't give you anything and would rather it get thrown into a locked dumpster, the whole-foods folks are usually happy not to waste stuff. I get a huge box of really perfectly good organic kale, spinach, dandelion greens.... just a little wilted.... last time I was there. it lasted a couple of weeks and the girls were thrilled.

    That reminds me, I have to get them some more today!


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