Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeding the Backyard Chickens

I had a question asked by a blogger pal so this evening I intend to do what I can to answer it for her. Thank you Deborah for asking.......

Tonite I'm going to share what I do to feed my chickens without having to fork out $12 for a 50lb bag of commercial chicken feed. Chickens are notorious for eating just about anything they can peck so table scraps are always on the menu. they will also eat about anything you try to plant in your garden if you don't keep them out. Chickens are particularly fond of beets, kale, potatoes, sunflowers, wheat, oats and all types of grass seed. Cracked corn is something they dive on but it lacks protein so I supplement cracked corn with ground soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, some barley, milo and oats. To keep my egg shells nice and solid, I wash every egg shell I crack, dry them and crush them up for the feed mix. I give my chickens all types of squash I grow here. They love the fruit and the seeds and devour pumpkins in a heartbeat. chickens will pluck your almost ripe tomatoes right off the vines. they aren't real fond of sweet pepper but eat your cucumbers every chance they get.

I have also heard it said that you can even feed chickens meat scraps but I do not. I also do not feed my chickens cooked egg.

I have heard that milk and cheese/butter byproducts are good feed supplements but have never set whey, milk of cheese out for them. I may try soaking their grains in it when the goat starts giving me milk.

I have also noticed that chickens like alfalfa and clover, they occasionally steal it from the rabbits and very often get right in the hay pile with the goats and sheep.

The hottest spot for hungry chickens around here in the manure pile. As it decomposes and turns into my growing compost, it is always full of worms, dung beetles and other various insects. Japanese beetles are a favorite for chickens as well. I shake them out of the peach trees and scoop them into buckets with a bit of water in the bottom(keeps the beetles from flying out) and I dump the water filled beetles in the feed pan and get back because a whole avalanche of chickens will appear to scarf them up.

So, anything you grow and harvest for yourself will make decent chicken feed for your backyard flock. don't forget the calcium and you'll have quality eggs and chicken meat without having to spend a dime on feed.


  1. cool! I had heard that they would eat just about anything. I only have 5 gals and 2 roosters and they are in a covered pen with a coop. (we hae a LOT of wild critters)
    I've been giving them grain, supplimented with scraps and garden leftovers. Now that winter is here it will be grain and scraps. I will plant more things that can be dried for them next year. thanks for the tips.

  2. MM, I have given my chickens milk and they really enjoy it! I haven't ever given my chickens meat, either, but I would like to start (because they actually aren't herbivores). If anyone else reading here does give their chickens meat, I would love to hear what kind/parts of the meat they feed them.

  3. HI!
    We give our chickens anything and everything. They don't like citrus or onions but never turn up their beaks at anything else. I give them the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. Any leftovers at all go right out to our girls!

    When its really cold outside and I'm feeling all motherly I cook up rice or beans or wheat mash and they get a warm treat. The wheat mash is what won't go through my sifter after we've ground our own. I just throw it it a crock pot overnight for them. Its pretty good for humans too but not our personal favorite.

    They really seem to appreciate the variety and have sent Thankyou cards more than once. They're very polite.:)

  4. Thank you MM, for responding to my question. It seems easier to supplement during the summer months with produce scraps and fallen fruit. With 60 chickens and 5 turkeys the cold winter months of the year are more of a challenge. First hard freeze and most of the insect population disappears over night. We free range our birds, but I would like to grow some seed items next year for them. Have you ever tried to grow grains?

  5. Hello Deb, you're welcome and yes I grow several types of grains. wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, corn, soybeans and millet. Everything I grow gets fed to the critters in home made mixes.

    Thanks Queen for sharing the meat ;) There ya go Gen, Queen says go for it!

    Hey HP! Every little big helps!

  6. Ok! So, the whole carcass? bones and all? Wow! My ladies are going to have a treat pretty soon! Thanks!

  7. If my goat manages to step in the milk pot while I am milking and I have enough stored in the freezer for soap I just give the milk to the chickens. The love it!


Comments always welcome