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  • Raising our own chickens

    We are wanting to raise our own chickens, but I
    can't find any decent info on what to feed them.
    Everything online say use grains, but we don't want
    to feed them grains.

    They will be feed house hold scraps, as well as foraging
    during the day, but was wondering
    if any of you here raise your own for eating and eggs, and
    what else you feed them.

    I did read you can feed them some seeds, but that would
    probably work out expensive if feeding them every day on seeds.

    Any ideas would be awesome

    Thanks

  • #2
    Hi couchie!

    My sister has chickens (about 30 of them) and she just feeds them leftovers after every meal (scraps) - they're scavengers by nature, so really whatever you throw at them, they'll chow.

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    • #3
      http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Chicke.../dp/0470465441
      An excellent place to start.
      My photography:
      http://www.swiftimages.net

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      • #4
        Scraps are fine, but do remember that birds are adapted to digest grains (which are just seeds anyway) - the grit in their gizzard grinds the seed down.
        However, it seems that too much grain gives a fat bird and can inhibit egg production.
        They do need a source of calcium, over here ground oyster shell is usually given.
        Other than that, free ranging birds would hopefully find their own munchies. By the way - they are not vegetarians either. I've heard of frogs, mice, rats, and baby birds all disappearing down the throat...
        I did wonder about live or dried mealworms as a treat, but that would probably work out very expensive!

        How about growing some "crop" plants for them - maybe maize or quinoa, or sunflowers for the seeds....?

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        • #5
          check out www.backyardchickens.com, lots of good info there. We're renting right now, hope to buy a house this summer. First thing I'm gonna do is build a coop and get some egg layers. Nothing beats fresh eggs!
          Female, 53 y.o. 195 lbs 2/15, 148 lbs 02/16. Goal wt < 140 lbs.
          Journal link: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread115661.html
          http://paleotrack.com/j/GtjBV4YJ

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          • #6
            As NMG has said, chickens are adapted for grain eating. Unlike bovines, for example, which are not naturally adapted for grains, chickens are little grain-consuming machines. Especially if you want maximum egg production, you need to make sure they're getting adequate nutrition. I give my chickens an organic layer mixture. I save all my chickens' egg shells and when they're dry, I put them in a plastic bag and use a marble rolling pin to finely crush them, then add the shells to their food mixture. They also love to peck all the gristle off bones. They eat snails, worms, bugs of all descriptions. For a treat, they get wild bird seed with lots of sunflower seeds. To get them back into their pen at night, I give them minced beef liver. They come running as fast as they can!

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            • #7
              Thank you for all the great replies, Sharonll never heard of giving them minced
              beef liver before, something to think about when we do our next kill, as I can't
              eat offal. Thanks for the links I will be checking them out asp.

              Cheers
              couchie

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by couchie View Post
                Thank you for all the great replies, Sharonll never heard of giving them minced
                beef liver before, something to think about when we do our next kill, as I can't
                eat offal. Thanks for the links I will be checking them out asp.

                Cheers
                couchie
                Chickens will also eat each other. So if one dies you can feed it to the rest. In fact they'll eat any meat. They are scavengers.
                A steak a day keeps the doctor away

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just a caution - check your local rules and regs. For example, I'd be breaking the law if I gave my chooks ANY food that had possibly been in contact with meat - and that means anything from my own kitchen as I can't (apparently) guarantee no contamination.
                  So technically they just get offcuts from the garden before anything enters my kitchen...

                  In other countries you're probably allowed to feed your animals their natural diet!!

                  ETA: I'd be careful about feeding them other eggs and chickens though, in terms of developing a taste for it...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    NMG, sorry to hear you're regulated to that extent! Here in Seattle, they tell us how many chickens we can own according to the size of our lot, but not what we can feed them. As far as feeding them eggs, since I grind the shells to a fine powder, I've never had a problem with the chickens pecking at their own (or another's) eggs. I think they can't recognize the powdered shells in their food. I admit I've given them chicken bones and skin before, without thinking it might give them ideas about eating each other. With only 3 chickens and a large yard, they all get along very well, so I hope that won't ever become a problem.

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                    • #11
                      Red tape here is ridiculous... I've given up on hopes of raising a couple of pigs; the sheep and cattle at work are an absolute nightmare to track and keep within the law; it's also illegal to sell "unregistered" varieties of vegetable!!!

                      Well, it's not like we have gang, knife, gun, race, or sex related crimes to worry about. Oh, hang on......




                      *ends bitter sarcasm*


                      I did originally ask about feeding the eggshells back to the chickens when I first got them, but I received one of those "you want to do WHAT?!" looks so I didn't persue it!
                      Mine do go mad for meat. Lord knows how they get hold of it...must remember to secure the compost bin..... *innocent whistle*

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                      • #12
                        Oh, yes, the compost bin! LOL! One of my chickens, Rhoda, is really adventurous. She flies up into the compost bin and keeps it very well stirred, scratching for bugs and worms. The other two chickens just stand below and stare up at her. Rhoda is also the one who finds holes in the fence and has forced me to add 3 feet of height to all the fences in the yard. It was either that or clip her wings, but I didn't want to hinder her ability to fly out of harm's reach.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NorthernMonkeyGirl View Post
                          but do remember that birds are adapted to digest grains (which are just seeds anyway
                          Last I checked, birds evolved before humans and before there were any humans to scatter grain for them

                          Best,
                          Katherine



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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cillakat View Post
                            Last I checked, birds evolved before humans and before there were any humans to scatter grain for them

                            Best,
                            Katherine
                            Chickens are extremely capable of finding grains without human intervention.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sharonll View Post
                              Chickens are extremely capable of finding grains without human intervention.
                              Exactly! That would be perfect - and it would also lead to a much much reduced grain consumption over being tossed a few handfuls of grain daily. A bird finding a mix of insects, seeds (higher in fat), grains (higher in starch), fruit (carb/antioxidants etc), dead animals is a very different thing that birds being given a mostly corn/grain mix.

                              I so wish we could have chickens here. While it's not legal, everyone is turning a blind eye. It's all the rage right now, this backyard chicken thing. The neighbors wouldn't rat us out, but dh is so completely opposed. Some friends down the street have them - they had a coop built that matches their house so it actually looks wonderful.

                              And the eggs are beautiful and delicious.



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