Keeping chickens for eggs is a great way to save money especially if you can go through a dozen or two a week. Chooks make great diggers, bug collectors and are great pets; so you need to keep your girls healthy and provide them with a balanced diet.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of making our own chook food so buying a prepared feed is our only option. I recommend that you spend feed time with your girls each day to observe their habits. This will tell you what they are eating and in the long run save you money.
PELLETS & MIXED GRAINS
Feeds can fluctuate per manufacturer and season. Sourcing something that is locally grown is best and with the right grains for you girls. Test your feeds to see what they are eating that way you can cut down any waste. You don’t want half the feed left to encourage mice into to your hen-house. My girls don’t eat sorghum so I buy sorghum free mixed grain. No waste.
If your girls are super picky and only eating out the sunflowers you may want to consider pellets so they are getting a mixture of all the grains for a balanced diet.
Buying pellet food is a great options for those fussy gals. This way they have no choice but to eat a balanced diet. Most pellet mixes are made up of the right amount of protein, grains and other nutrients.
Most feeds have grit in them. If for some reason your feed doesn’t have grit or your girls are laying soft thin shelled eggs you need to introduce it. Grit is high in calcium and is made from egg shells which have been broken up into small pieces.
Chickens need to have space to forage. They are carnivores and like to eat insects, scratch around the dirt and of course take a bath. Providing them plenty of space to explore your chickens will never get bored and feel the need to jump that fence into your garden.
If your chicken cage is permanent and lacks in space and grass you should add plenty of leafy greens to their pen. You can simple pick your own grasses, weeds, veggie scraps and thrown them into their pen. I like to leave my weeds as large as possible as they like to play hide and seek in them.
Garden scraps, weeds or clean kitchen scraps can be given to your girls. Think leafy greens – spinach, silverbeet, kale, lettuce, cabbage, Asian greens. Left over pasta, rice, oats, popcorn, bread and legumes also make for a great treat. Chickens do not eat citrus, avocados, capsicums or peppers, onions and rhubarb. Make sure all the kitchen scraps are clean and are not moldy or rancid in any way before giving to your chickens.
Clean water must always be readily available to your flock. I have several water stations on our property for our girls as they free range over 4 acres. In winter, make sure that any frosted ice on the water is cleared each morning to allow access. I add 2 tbsp of good quality apple cider vinegar to my water to stop the water going moldy it also helps with digestion.
Make sure your girls have plenty of shade during those hot days and access to plenty of water. A few treats to help them stay cool is cucumber & watermelon. I grow cucumbers and the chooks love them on a hot afternoon when the weather hasn’t broken into a storm.
I often spoil our chooks with additional sunflower seeds which I grow and store for them. What do you feed your chooks?