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Natural Feed for Chickens

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Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#1  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:21 am


Natural Feeding for Chickens,
The belief that “commercial animal feeds provide the best result” is based on a sales pitch made by Feed companies trying to sell commercially produced animal feed..
For modern commercial poultry production, with modern facilities it is about the only option…
However for most people, especially those with a little space for a garden plot, there are much healthier, more cost effective options for household egg, and meat production.
For the moment I will ignore the subject of toxic feed materials, and focus on economy, and flock health. [Feel free explore the “toxic feedstuffs” situation further down the thread]
In my mind there is no doubt that a diet of green feeds ,[like green grass, kale, and other garden produce] , combined with root crops [like- fodder beets, sugar beet, rutabaga, carrot, Jerusalem artichoke] for calories, and household food scraps for added protein, will surpass anything a feed company could possibly sell you. If you add a “free range”, or “pastured” aspect to your flock management program- you will have an almost perfect situation, [from the flock health, production, and production /feed cost point of view]. If you add the “toxic waste” in our food issue, “it is a “no brainer”.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Rainey » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:49 am


Thanks for starting this thread. I know RT is about rabbits but I've found the natural feed for chickens info here more helpful than the chicken forum sponsored by a feed company. And then when I want to go back and find something I half remember seeing, it takes me a while or I can't find it at all.
The book recommended here about feeding chickens and rabbits on 'scraps' first gave me the idea that it would be possible to feed chickens more as we do our rabbits. But I kept getting warnings that I wouldn't be giving them enough protein. The rabbit offal provided some and whatever they found in the compost pile and in the grass and we sometimes scoop minnows from the pond for them in summer and they get all the Japanese beetles we pick. I hadn't been as aware of the importance of green feed in winter. Will definitely be working on that.

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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#3  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:08 am


Rainey wrote:Thanks for starting this thread. I know RT is about rabbits but I've found the natural feed for chickens info here more helpful than the chicken forum sponsored by a feed company. And then when I want to go back and find something I half remember seeing, it takes me a while or I can't find it at all.
The book recommended here about feeding chickens and rabbits on 'scraps' first gave me the idea that it would be possible to feed chickens more as we do our rabbits. But I kept getting warnings that I wouldn't be giving them enough protein. The rabbit offal provided some and whatever they found in the compost pile and in the grass and we sometimes scoop minnows from the pond for them in summer and they get all the Japanese beetles we pick. I hadn't been as aware of the importance of green feed in winter. Will definitely be working on that.


I am hoping that you as well as others with practical experience, will add that experience to this thread , so we can get an "all in one place" guide to natural feeding options.. to make it easier for others who will be searching for this kind of info...
thanks... in advance,,,
Michael

__________ Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:18 am __________

Experiment on egg production..
When i lived in N.Ca, [the ground did not freeze solid in winter] I did an experiment with laying hens-- I wanted to see if egg production would drop if I stopped feeding laying mash, and started feeding 'Natural feed" [and of course, i was looking for a way to save money] ---
I fenced two "pastures", one for winter, one for summer.
In the winter pasture I planted Jerusalem artichoke, carrots, stock beets., and sugar beet. in mid summer I planted kale between the rows, and kept my weeding to a minimum.
In the summer pasture I had a row of comfrey, and a "pasture grass", and rape mix ,designed for cattle.
I fed the hens greens, and some roots while cooped up in the morning, from the garden, then in the afternoon, I turned them into the pasture. [I did not feed any commercial feed]
My already great egg production, did not go down- it went up.--- what went down was my feed bill.

__________ Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:20 am __________

I wonder... if a new market for eggs, chicken, or Rabbit could be developed, based on "glyphosate free" and "pesticide free", eggs and meat-
People are beginning to see the "real info" on just how high the glyphosate levels are in our food, and in human mothers milk , and how glyphosate in our food affects our health, and the health of our young [failure to thrive, etc:] . Reports have now been made public [sort of] that show glyphosate levels are often over one hundred times more than even the "new modified"[greatly increased] Government established "safe limits"...
Raising chickens [and rabbits] on "home grown -non grain and alfalfa feeds, is certainly feasible...

__________ Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:12 am __________

Fodder Beet Can Match The Performance From Feed Barley
Fodder beet can be a valuable feed source of farm, especially to beef producers, according to O’Kiely.

O’Kiely highlighted a recent trial carried out in Teagasc Grange in which the performance of beef cattle fed fodder beet matched those fed on barley grain.

On a dry matter (DM) basis, it is the equivalent to barley grain once both protein and phosphorus have been balanced.

“Trials from Teagasc Grange indicate that animals that are supplemented with fodder beet matched the performance of animals on similar levels of barley every step of the way.”

He added that this trial compared various barley supplementation levels with similar fodder beet levels (DM basis) along with a small quantity of soya bean and phosphorous.

According to O’Kiely, fodder beet can be an attractive feed source for many farmers.

If you are a farmer that is growing fodder beet well and producing a high yield fodder beet could be an attractive alternative feed source, he said.

http://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/alt ... e-average/
...........................................................................................

Protein and mineral are the "often lacking" nutrients in home grown feed programs, -including a "pasture" aspect to the feed program,and/or buying a mineral supplement will correct these shortages.- ..........in my experience, my laying hens seemed to be able to find the needed mineral and protein if they could get outside and look for it.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:49 pm


All of the above! Lots of great ideas here. :goodjob:

This site might be useful.
http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Poultry.html

Sprouting works as well for poultry as for rabbits.
http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Sprouting.html

Vermiculture can really boost protein.
http://www.themodernhomestead.us/articl ... worms.html

Dinged, cracked, stale or unwanted eggs can be fed back for a protein boost. I just scrambled five (non-fertile) goose eggs for the goose and chickens. I'm the only one who can eat them (they are awfully rich) and they get ahead of me.

Free-ranging is the best. I've lost very few birds that way in spite of lots of hawks, owls, coyotes, raccoons, mink and so forth. The only time the chickens aren't out scratching and pecking is when the snow is too deep. Our lone goose hangs out with them and I suppose gives them some protection, although she is a gentle soul.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#5  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:33 am


Producing your own poultry and rabbit feed in your garden, is relatively easy and uncomplicated, for someone with some basic vegetable gardening experience.
- based on my experience, i would suggest.

Green feed, for vitamins, and enzymes.
- kale, of various varieties should be the main cultivated green feed for both chickens and rabbits. Then radish , and chicory, after that everything else , grass clippings, vegetable trimmings, and "spent" garden plants [for rabbits, corn stalks that don't compost easily anyway are great feed]. Kale, grass clippings, comfrey and other greens can be dried for winter feeding.

Root crops, for calories
I like to grow sugar beet, Jerusalem artichoke, stock beets, and carrot, [in that order of priority]
These roots can be fed nonstop [in most areas] if you can store them under damp sand or sawdust for winter and spring use, stock beet [mangel] is best fed after is has aged in storage for a month or two- [old timers said to start feeding it after christmas]. By the time the sugar beet, jerusalem artichoke, and stock beet are beginning to get soft in late spring or early summer, a crop of early carrots can be ready to harvest. The carrots will carry them until the other root crops are ready again.

Household scraps of every kind ,except avocados, [and very salty foods for chickens] can be fed to boost protein and calories.

Pasture...
One of the best management tools I have used is a "pasture system", I don't want the chickens in the garden, so I use a fenced pasture for the chickens. The wing feathers on one wing can be trimmed to keep them from flying over the fence - or, many day-old chick suppliers will "cut the last segment off one wing" for you [or dewing, -for a small fee] , I have used both methods.. both work just fine. If this "dewing" process is done within a day or two after hatching- they don't "seem" to mind it too much.
The pasture does not need to be a very special mix- regular "pasture mixes" work just fine, however added rape , radish, and a row of comfrey are a plus.
The above.. is what works for me.. [at one time ... I was paid to do "animal feed research", I had a lot of fun doing my own research at the same time..]
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Marinea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:47 am


We don't have a "lawn", we have a more naturalized yard. We plant a mixture of different things each year, like clovers, ryes, etc., and the chickens love to forage around. We tried the sugar beets, and they were unimpressed, but the dogs and pig loved them.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#7  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:37 am


interesting article.. http://smallfarmcanada.ca/2017/fodder-b ... -on-farms/

__________ Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:37 am __________

Just a note about kale varieties- the most hardy variety I have grown is "Yellow Cabbage collard" it survived without any winter kill, when dino, rainbow, and russian were killed. [it stayed below 0 for about a month] all were mulched with about 12" on top of the soil - I was able to feed it all summer, all winter, until the next late summer when it finally bolted. I think the most nutrient dense variety is "dino kale" [toscano]
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Rainey » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:46 am


The roots we grow and feed to rabbits are radish, carrot, parsnip, turnip, potato, and sweet potato. Carrots are the least preferred in Michael's chicken list and some of the others aren't included. We tried sugar beets but they didn't grow well for us. I wonder how much difference location makes in what grows well and if there is a reason for not including the other roots. I know white potatoes need to be cooked so are less convenient.
We do grow more kale, and more kinds (Michael had recommended Dino kale and that has done well for us), for rabbits and chickens. And stinging nettles we cut and dry and then feed to does that kindle late winter early spring before things get growing well. Also feed them to chickens. Would like to have more but have only a small patch of stinging nettle. Have more wood nettle (Laportea canadensis) and wonder if that would work as well.

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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Marinea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:58 am


Rainey, pretty sure I saw nettle seeds in Baker's Creek catalog.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#10  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:41 am


Rainey wrote:The roots we grow and feed to rabbits are radish, carrot, parsnip, turnip, potato, and sweet potato. Carrots are the least preferred in Michael's chicken list and some of the others aren't included. We tried sugar beets but they didn't grow well for us. I wonder how much difference location makes in what grows well and if there is a reason for not including the other roots. I know white potatoes need to be cooked so are less convenient.
We do grow more kale, and more kinds (Michael had recommended Dino kale and that has done well for us), for rabbits and chickens. And stinging nettles we cut and dry and then feed to does that kindle late winter early spring before things get growing well. Also feed them to chickens. Would like to have more but have only a small patch of stinging nettle. Have more wood nettle (Laportea canadensis) and wonder if that would work as well.

Rainey
no, i have not a reason, for "not including" other roots - i just mentioned the ones I used/ planted the most- I am sure the "others" you mention, as well as others not mentioned, -are wonderful also. - I think your listing the roots that you use is wonderful, - I , as well as others, -may be able to gain knowledge from your experience.... for instance , I had not considered , that some people might have difficulty growing sugar beet, -and- I did not realize that some chickens, in some circumstances, would not "like" sugar beet at all [thanks Marinea] ...
so-thank you for sharing your experience......
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Dani4Hedgies » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:21 am


Am loving this thread, this year we are planning a huge garden at our homestead to change over from feeding "pre packaged" feed to feeding what we grow around the homestead. What about Tim hay for the rabbits? Can that be replaced with something else or do I need to figure out how to grow that as well?

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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:15 am


Dani4Hedgies wrote:Am loving this thread, this year we are planning a huge garden at our homestead to change over from feeding "pre packaged" feed to feeding what we grow around the homestead. What about Tim hay for the rabbits? Can that be replaced with something else or do I need to figure out how to grow that as well?


Timothy is easy to grow (here in Southern Ontario, in any case) as long as you have some space. Once established, it will provide harvests for years.

Before I started with rabbits, I wanted to improve the soil where the previous owners had their vegetable garden. I hand broadcast a mix of alfalfa, timothy and red clover over the area. When I started with rabbits, it was there every year for fresh cutting and some to dry as hay as well. Seed was readily available by weight at the feed store.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#13  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:30 am


Dani4Hedgies wrote:Am loving this thread, this year we are planning a huge garden at our homestead to change over from feeding "pre packaged" feed to feeding what we grow around the homestead. What about Tim hay for the rabbits? Can that be replaced with something else or do I need to figure out how to grow that as well?

Timothy provides longstem fiber and protein , as long as both those needs are met - it "can" be replaced with other things.
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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#14  Unread postby GBov » Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:06 pm


I have been getting really good results with feeding organic, soy free, 4-grain scratch and organic, soy free, duck grower to everything. But I ferment it first.

Really easy to ferment, I put a gallon of each kind of feed into a five-gallon bucket and cover with water. Each day, when I take feed out, I top it up with water. When the grain is almost all gone, I put more in.

After a few weeks, the liquid is golden and runs off my hands in strings and smells not too bad, like really ripe cheese.

Chickens, rabbits, the guinea pig, pot belly pigs, ducks, and geese have so far all done really well on it.

So far only quail have done badly on it and then, by mistake, I got Texas A&M eggs instead of the more natural basic Coturnix. They were doing so badly, even with scrambled eggs every day to boost protein that I switched to game bird starter. Sadly, not organic and stuffed with soy but now the quail are fully feathered out and full size I will switch them onto the fermented grain for a few weeks to hopefully cleanse them of contaminants and then we will eat them all. By then the mealworms will be producing well so perhaps mealworms plus the organic feed will work for the next quail attempt.

The chickens we hatched out ourselves are growing great on the fermented feed but one odd thing, they are voracious eaters of greens. The even taught the older hens to eat them as no amount of my giving them to the hens induced them to even try them. And egg production on the FF was great and the flavor of the hen's eggs was more like quail eggs. Very nice! But as my youngest has just been found to be allergic to hens eggs and dairy the hens have gone to 4H and we are going to eat the young chickens as they grow. Right now they are at personal portion size and fantastic on the grill.

I did buy 10 meat bird chicks - impulse at the feed store :oops: - and they are leaping and running like the other chickens. When we had a miscommunication about feed and ran out :evil: I had to switch them to the quail feed - I ferment it as well - and they went all dopy and slow and dirty but picked right back up once back on their normal feed. The quail seem dopy all the time as well so will see what they get up to once switched over.

In an attempt to save a bit of money and because I hoped they would sell as pets due to being such pretty colors so it didn't matter what I fed them, I put the pot belly sow and her four piglets onto commercial feed as it cost me $116 for 100 pounds of organic feed delivered. NOWHERE sells anything like it here so it has to be ordered online. AAARRRGH!!! But as they had not sold I butchered two of them today.

Usually, I am thrilled with my meat but after having a years worth of meat raised on fermented organic feed, the pork tastes musty and piggy. Dirty piggy. And the livers were spotty, unlike the last three litters which had beautiful insides.

So, the sow and two remaining piglets will go back onto the FF and then we will eat them in about 6 weeks and I will vow to NEVER use commercial feed again. EVER!!!

I will salt down the two suckling pig sized porkers and put them over smoke for awhile and then slow roast them. They will be just fine but still, disappointing.

With such a tiny yard and so many things to eat chickens, mine stay cooped up in a large walk-in kennel so they get mustard, turnip and lettuce greens daily, plus whatever weeds I pull.

My electric mower is great though for cutting just the right amount of fresh greens, I mow what little grass/weeds in strips so I can use it fresh.

The spineless cactus are not yet big enough to use as fodder but by gum, I LOVED the Daikon radishes, cut and come again greens all winter long for everyone, us as well and now feeding the old roots.

Sorry, I seem to be wittering on a bit but it is so refreshing to find ANYONE who knows the danger of glyphosate. My poor mum is sick as a dog today, they have been spraying the fields near her. :(

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Re: Natural Feed for Chickens

Post Number:#15  Unread postby Thorn » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:51 am


(I this thread is older but I must have missed it somehow.) :nice:

Question:The root crops have to be chopped for the chickens, right? Or do they peck away bits off them? I read feeding chickens there own eggs could cause problems, but if this proves untrue, (which is likely considering all the misinformation regarding animal feed supplied by the 'Feed companies' among others) it would be something to do with all our extra eggs.Already feeding them their shells for calcium's what harm can the insides do?

We currently feed a fermented mix of horse oats,BOSS,cracked yellow corn, and split peas to our chickens. They have free ranged for the past year, slowly removing every green thing and bug from around our house, and going farther and farther away.They also have full access to the compost pile.When we move them they will be on pasture, kept in a poultry electric netting, and moved weekly. Hopefully this way they will begin supplementing more of there own feed, and not killing every living thing...In the meantime I've begun researching natural chicken feed to see what will be possible. With 40+ chickens natural feeding feels a distant fantasy.

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