People Food instead of Chicken Food

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by digitS', Dec 18, 2009.

  1. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    DW baked oatmeal raisin cookies today and that reminded me of something [​IMG]. Some time ago I asked myself, "Self, if the hens were fed people food instead of chicken food, how much would they require each day."

    I decided not to go thru my entire menu for a month but just take a couple of items from my five (or so) Basic Food Groups and use those to find out what a laying hen requires.

    A leghorn-type laying hen requires, at minimum:

    • 320 calories, and
    • 17 grams of well-balanced protein per day, according to Poultry Sciencists at Auburn University

    Let's just use those 2 requirements and assume that the hens will get some important vitamin needs met by foraging on lawn grass and clover in the backyard. Now let's take a look at 2 of the items from my basic food groups: omelets and oatmeal raisin cookies. (You can look up items from your own basic food groups using the USDA National Nutrient Database.)

    2 egg omelet with a slice of Swiss cheese has
    • 240 calories, and
    • 21 grams of protein.

    Oatmeal raisin cookie crumbs (1 oz) have
    • 120 calories, and
    • 2 gram of protein.

    • 360 calories, and
    • 23 gram of protein.

    A laying hen should exceed her requirements by eating those 2 items, each day. You know, kind of like setting another place at the kitchen table for her. So, what do you think [​IMG]?

  2. RocketDad

    RocketDad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2008
    Near US 287
    People have made animal food forever. It's only been in the last 50+ years that we've gotten away from it and relied on commercial packaged foods. I remember reading a chicken-keeping book years ago that had feed-mixing tables to scale up and down different protein proportion mixes, using various grains and such.

    My mom makes dog food. She cooks for her goldfish (shrimp and peas - very healthy gigantic fancy goldfish). The only issue is cost-benefit. What does it cost to give a chicken an omelet and cookies for a day? I give my hens food that would otherwise go to waste - the things the kids don't finish that I don't want to eat.

    Setting one extra place at the table is one thing, setting 5 extra or 25 extra is something else.
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    And, of course, it makes no economic sense to give a chicken a 2 egg omelet and hope to get 1 egg in return. But, I was hoping to allow people to think about what kind of food a chicken requires in her diet. Also, that chicken feed is 50# for $10 (or there abouts) and we could spend that to buy them breakfast at McDonalds.

    I think I've use up my quota of sentences begun with a conjunctive . . . [​IMG]

    If we want to lower feed costs - we can try. If we want to just dump junk in their pen - they will eat it but we really can't expect much egg production or even good health.

    Their diet should be much like ours but I'm not even willing to share my cookies, quite [​IMG].

    Here's a 100 year-old text written by a poultry scientist at what is now Oregon State University. He was the guy who gave us the first 300 egg/year laying hen. He knew how to feed for eggs. It's a short booklet he called "Feeding for Eggs" and you can download it all from OSU.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I hate to say it, but most of the food humans eat is c**p. We would be a heck of a lot healthier if we ate as nutritiously as we feed our animals (their "feed" that is). Look at a lot of the scraps people give their chickens--white pasta, bread, white rice, hot dogs, etc..this stuff is really nutritionally devoid and has to have nutrients added to make it "appear" nutritious. Plus a lot of junk in it like excess sodium, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc...I don't even give this kind of food to my chickens anymore! I really should try to eat at least as good as them...
  5. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    I have to agree that most people food isn't good for anything. It's surprising we live. Feeding mcdonalds every day isn't likely to result in very healthy chickens and even many meals cooked at home these days are prepackaged stuff with vitamins and minerals added to keep you alive. If we gave that to chickens they'd live just like people live but name one person without at least a minor health problem that survives on more processed meals than fresh foods? Nearly everyone is beyond ideal weight, suffering some malabsorption disorder, vitamin deficiency, digestive tract disturbance, respiratory problem, or heart problem to some degree. How many people take meds prescription or over the counter regularly? Chickens are probably healthier. Now if we did eat healthy whole foods in a good variety a chicken should be able to remain healthy on the same diet since they are also omnivorous. They would have some minor differences since they expend more energy and certain nutrients making eggs every day. Omnivores have got to be about the most complicated to feed though. Carnivores like dogs and cats are easy. Just feed them raw meat with either whole prey or a proper ratio of bones, organs, muscle meat, etc... and they will be healthier than on any commercial food. Not real complicated just requires a stocked freezer and source for bulk meat or small game. Mine lived on quail and chickens I butchered plus a little pork and beef I got cheap for 4months and were healthier than on $60/bag dog food. Herbivores generally just require some basic forage such as grass or hay and a mix of fresh veggies plus a little fruit. It's the omnivores that need the full range of all food groups because they are actually the least efficient at extracting nutrition from any single food source. Can't fully digest fibers and manufacture b12 like herbivores and don't have the short digestive tracts designed for a high meat content low fiber diet without getting ill plus needing a wider variety of amino acids.

    None of my animals eat commercial feed exclusively and many don't eat it at all. My chickens are the only thing I don't grow or make a specific food for but they free range and for one month this year didn't eat any poultry feed. I did get grasshopper tasting eggs the end of that month though.... My dogs eat any appropriate left overs when we cook along with raw bones and meat when I get it so their dry food is a supplement that some days they don't eat. My cats hunt for themselves, eat whatever raw we get for the dogs, and have whole button quail so again while dry is out they don't eat it except occasionally in winter. My hamsters get a custom blend of grains and seeds plus some fresh vegetables. My sugar gliders have what we refer to as sugar glider ice cream made of a milk replacer for marsupials imported from australia, eggs, honey, and bee pollen for extra vitamins plus fruits and vegetables. My guinea pigs eat grass hay or fresh grass and forage during warmer months plus a cup each of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. My horses eat grass all summer and then grass hay plus oats and sunflower seeds in winter. Nothing thrives on only processed prepackaged foods. Not humans and not pets or livestock but feeding them the junk we often eat won't be any different. It will just be less formulated for their needs.
  6. cw

    cw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2009
    green co.
    it really depends on the human food, and the animal
    we eat alot of veggies and meat (try to stay away from processed foods)

    so to say steamed carrots would be bad for the flock (i dont believe it) and feed it to ours
    ares get scrapes all the time, so do the hogs there is no sense in wasting it when it could be put to use
  7. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    My father will soon be 92; he will be 19 years older than his father was when he passed away at 73.

    My mother lived to be 87; 20 years older than her mother was when she passed away at age 67.

    Mom always paid attention to diet. It's her recipe DW used for those oatmeal raisin cookies. But, I'm still not sure if I'll share them with the laying hens. Check back with me after the "pull et date."

  8. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    My chickens are eating a good portion of their diet out of my kitchen 'garbage'. I allow them to free-range most of the day, so they get a lot that way, plus any food scraps that come out of my kitchen. I only feed them a little grain, and that is not a commercial chicken feed, but leftover grains from a local brewery. But that said, my household eats very healthy. We don't eat many packaged processed foods at all, and eat mostly vegetables anyway. We only eat bread that I bake at home with no preservatives, from whole wheat flour. We only consume dairy products (at least for ten months of the year) that are produced at home from our goats. We only eat meat that we raised/processed ourselves. We are using storebought eggs and fruit since the hens are not laying yet and we can't realistically grow fruit on our land, but most of what we use is organic and homegrown, and that is passed on to my birds. I do feed my cats commercial cat food because it is too expensive to fix home-raised meat for them, and I cannot cook store-bought meats from around here in my kitchen due to religious constraints, so it is easiest to feed them cat food. (It doesn't seem to bother them though, my family has had many, many cats live over 20 years on medium quality dry cat food!) But the chickens seem to be doing well on a 'human food' diet.

    By the way, I agree on the unhealthiness of (American, at least) packaged, process food diets. I have grown up with a lot of health problems, multiple auto-immune conditions, and have to take a lot of medications for them now. Since switching to better food alternatives, I have been much less sick.
  9. LizFM

    LizFM Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2009
    I think it just depends on your personal cost/benefit decisions.

    Years ago, a lot of farm people used to have hens and not feed them anything special except scraps and what they could forage (grandpa always said that the best eggs came from hens that scratched in the cow poop to get the undigested corn [​IMG] ). Of course that meant they didn't get as many eggs as they might have gotten, and didn't have eggs all year...but what eggs they got, were basically at no extra charge, as were the chickens they dressed and ate. With a minimum amount of time and attention (and, as was really important, almost no extra cost), they had a self-perpetuating food source. They also got free bug control. They didn't get optimal production, but they didn't care.

    Then there were people like my grandma who traded butter and eggs for groceries in town (til the day she died, even though she lived in town the last 30 years of her life, she referred to going to the store as "going to town to do her trading") and sold a few extras to neighbors. Her chickens were more intensively managed and she did buy a limited (very limited, they were very poor) amount of specialized feed for chicks or to up their laying, but the cost of feed had to be balanced against the number of eggs she was able to sell or trade plus what they ate. They didn't have electricity even in the house so there was no such thing as supplementary lights in winter or heated coops.

    Then there were those who had sufficient extra income that they didn't care how much their eggs cost to raise, as long as they had them. Highest production, highest cost per egg. (I'm guessing a lot of BYCers fit in this category today [​IMG] certainly they do by the standards of small farmers in the early 20th century.

    Lastly, there were those who sold eggs as a farm business. Those were managed fairly intensively for optimum production possible at the lowest possible cost per egg. Folks like this often raised and mixed their own feed to keep costs down.

    You just have to decide where on this spectrum your wants and needs fit. If you have (good healthy) scraps of people food to feed your hens and can get enough eggs for you without buying much or any commercial feed, why worry if you don't get the largest number of eggs possible?

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