Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What should chickens eat?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What should chickens eat?

    I noticed that the organic, cage-free, eggs I usually buy say "vegetarian fed hens" on the carton. It got me wondering what kind of feed is ideal for a healthy hen. I have no idea. I know that when I buy beef/bison I look for "grass-fed" (assuming that grass fed cattle are healthier, and result in higher quality, lower n-6 meat than "grain-fed").

    But what about chickens? Scanning egg cartons yesterday I saw "vegetarian fed", "high omega-3 flax-fed", "grain-fed", and possibly some others.

    What feed is ideal for healthy happy poultry? I've just realized I know nada about chickens.

  • #2
    Try to think like a free-range chicken, scratching in the dirt, bright, beady eyes looking for something that's moving, pecking at some low-hanging leaves, snatching a bite of grass, and then streaking across the yard to pounce on a baby rat. That's a typical minute in the life of a backyard chicken, and describes exactly what they eat if left to choose for themselves. My chickens peck at seeds, berries, seedlings, bugs, worms, and yes, if given the opportunity (and if the cat doesn't beat them to it), they'll eat baby rats and any other form of protein and fat they can find. Definitely not vegetarian!

    Comment


    • #3
      Easy! They should be eating BUGS!

      Comment


      • #4
        Posts here lately have stated that the vegetarian feed is not good and that the omega 3 eggs are a waste of money. I have a coworker who raises chickens and her chickens eat pretty much anything she will throw at them. Also there is no way a properly raised free range chicken is 100% vegetarian. Those suckers will snatch up a bug with a quickness.

        If I recall correctly the guy at the farmer's market where I buy chicken when I can feeds his chickens grain supplimented by whatever they catch running around in freedom

        Comment


        • #5
          Enlightening answers. Thanks guys! Is there anything in particular you would look for in print on an egg carton? I'm guessing free-range is the truly important thing -- both for the chicken's QOL, and the egg quality for me (assuming free-range means a bug/worm-catching good time).

          Comment


          • #6
            i have 11 chicken, i let them roam during the day, they eat grass, bugs, any of my organic leftovers. . . at night they are in their coop as we have coyotes and foxes who would love to devour them. i also give them an organic egg layer feed. the yokes are bright orange. . .very yummy!

            Comment


            • #7
              Free range don't mean squat, just that they have the "option" to be outdoors 5 minutes a day. Least, that's what the legal USA definition is. Truly free-range chickens are typically sold as "pastured" chickens. As mentioned, they'll eat basically anything they can get their beaks on. Omega-3-enriched eggs get it from flax meal, but the birds do convert some of it to EPA and DHA, which are the forms that are most beneficial for us. It's not a whole lot, but it helps with the 6:3 ratio and the yolks of my O3 eggs are a deeper orange than regular ones, though not quite as much as pastured eggs.

              Comment


              • #8
                I buy omega 3 eggs because I'm able to get them at Costco for about the same price as regular eggs from my local market. Even if the benefit is small, if I'm not paying more for them, then why not? Also, my sis-in-law has a small backyard flock of chickens, and I'm able to score eggs from her now & then when she has extras. She feeds them flax seed to get the higher omega-3's.

                And I totally agree about what PPs have said about a chicken's diet. They'll eat nearly anything. For myself, I would avoid buying eggs that tout a vegetarian diet. That's not natural for a chicken at all. We had chickens for years when I was a kid, and we fed them all kinds of kitchen scraps. And we had ducks too -- they're favorite treat was slugs from the garden, and their eggs were delicious!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by duckmama View Post
                  I buy omega 3 eggs because I'm able to get them at Costco for about the same price as regular eggs from my local market. Even if the benefit is small, if I'm not paying more for them, then why not?
                  Very true, and I buy them when they are on sale and comparably priced. I'm just not going to pay an extra $1 a dozen for them any more

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AndreaReina View Post
                    Free range don't mean squat, just that they have the "option" to be outdoors 5 minutes a day. Least, that's what the legal USA definition is.
                    Yes, exactly. And by the time in their lives that the door is opened to let the chickens out in their little yard, they're too scared to go out there. As Michael Pollan says here: http://michaelpollan.com/resources/animal-welfare/

                    “Free range” doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken has had access to grass; many egg and broiler producers offer their chickens little more than a dirt yard where nothing grows. Look for the word “pastured.” And in the case of beef, keep in mind that all cattle are fed grass until they get to the feedlot; “grass finished” or “100% grass fed” is what you want. For more on the nutritional benefits of pastured food and where to find it go to eatwild.com.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by primaltreehgr View Post
                      i have 11 chicken, i let them roam during the day, they eat grass, bugs, any of my organic leftovers. . . at night they are in their coop as we have coyotes and foxes who would love to devour them. i also give them an organic egg layer feed. the yokes are bright orange. . .very yummy!
                      do you have a problem with birds of prey? we live in the country and that's one thing that I'm afraid of when we add chickens to our menagerie this year.
                      Heather and the hounds - Make a Fast Friend, Adopt a Greyhound!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I hope one day to have a yard where I can have chickens. They will keep the bugs down in the yard, and you can feed them about anything you can compost.
                        http://freethinkingcavewoman.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Very interesting responses. Thank you everyone for your input, I learned a lot.

                          I'm off to school, but I'll check out eatwild.com later.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            When you look at your eggs and the colors and sizes vary that usually is a good sign that the chickens were running around eating different things not all being given the same feed.

                            Also the best eggs I've ever had have ORANGE yolks.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When we had chickens, ducks and geese on my grandparents farm they ate whatever they could find... if it moved it was food! They'll eat just about anything - worms, bugs, snails, slugs, berries, seeds, grass, flowers. They'd steal food out of the pigs troughs. That usually consisted of boiled potatoes, apple peelings, fall fruit (fruit too bruised or too full of maggots for human consumption), whatever got cut off that didn't end up in our own meals that was vegetable based.
                              You donít stop riding because youíre getting old, you get old because you stop riding.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X