What did our grandmother's feed their chickens 100 years ago?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SandyC, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. SandyC

    SandyC Songster

    Commercial chicken feed (I buy organic) is getting so expensive. What do you think people fed chickens 100 years ago? I can't imagine that they went to the local feed store and bought a premixed feed. During the summer, mine are free ranged, but during the winter, I have to feed them. I am looking for better alternatives than the local feed store.
  2. KingsCalls

    KingsCalls Songster

    Oct 22, 2007
    New Market,Tn.
    I don't know about 100 yrs. ago but, 30 years ago.........my grandmother or grandfather would through out table scraps for the dogs, cats, turkeys and chickens. Seemed each species had their own favorites. Cats and dogs would eat the meat/fat scraps, turkeys would eat the larger veggie scraps and the chickens would eat smaller veggie scraps and bread scraps.
  3. Henrietta23

    Henrietta23 Songster

    Oct 20, 2007
    Eastern CT
    My mother tells me that my grandfather fed his chickens some sort of purchased feed and "grain". This would have been in the 40s.
  4. Picco

    Picco Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Most chickens free ranged for themselves and picked over the left over and spilled grains that were fed to the large livestock. Table scraps were important too. They probably roamed the agricultural fields for bugs; they had a lot more back then before pesticides were widely used.
  5. hencackle

    hencackle Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Telford, TN
    Table scraps, scratch grains, eggshells, & clabbered milk in addition to what they obtained from foraging. My grandmother, who would have been 93 if she were still alive, often mentioned feeding "clabbered milk" to her chickens.
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Grandpa used to run a commercial egg layer farm in the late 30's though the 50's. All feed was purchased though a supplier back then by the tons.

    There was an old thread on this before and one of the conclusions was that yes, you can feed alternative foods and scraps, but the condition, longevity, and production abilities of the birds often declines when they do not get enough of the "right" nutritional components in their diet.
  7. Picco

    Picco Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Table scraps, scratch grains, eggshells, & clabbered milk

    My grandmother also talks about how her parents used to feed milk to their hens "to get them to lay". It was probably one of the richest calcium sources they would have access to.​
  8. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    We do use raw cultured milk with our chickens. Commercial feeds are more convenient but you can mix your own without sacrificing quality. Finding the ingredients and then the time mixing just turns most people off. We live in a convenience store society and it shows at all levels. And yes I am just as guilty of taking the easy route many times myself.
  9. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    In "The Omnivore's Dilemna", Michael Pollan devotes a whole chapter to a guy named Joel Salatin, who's family runs Polyface Farms in Virgina. Mr. Salatin is a big proponent of what he calls "grass farming", and basically his whole farm is set up around the principles of letting his livestock work the way nature intended.

    I think he was one of the first guys to actively use chicken tractors and he basically rotates his chickens around from pasture to pasture, a few days after the cattle have been there (he rotates the cattle every night as well). The chickens basically till through the cattle manure for him, eating all the bugs and worms, as well as the fresh grass. I don't think he feeds them anything else (maybe a bit of grain in winter time).

    I thought it was a fabulous system. Now if only I had several hundred acres and some cattle. ;-D

    Anyway, here's the website. They are a fascinating set up.
  10. Henrietta23

    Henrietta23 Songster

    Oct 20, 2007
    Eastern CT
    Okay, talked to both my mom and dad whose parents had chickens when they were kids. Both remember something called "mash" being fed to the chickens. It was grain of some sort but they remember it also had a stickiness to it and smelled like molasses. They both grew up in Upstate NY. Don't know if it was a regional kind of thing or what.

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