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.
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