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You Are What You Feed

Updated: Aug 25, 2023



Having fresh eggs from your backyard chickens is just one of the many perks of suburban farming. So what you feed them is important, because you will eventually eat what they eat. I've learned a few things along the way about feed to share with you.



 

Crumbles Vs Pellets

My first feed mistake -- I bought chickens and didn't buy feed first. Dumb. So on the way home from the farm, we stopped to get feed. When the store didn't have the same feed the farmers had just recommended me; I was lost. I thought all crumbles were for baby chicks and pellets & whole grains were for adults. My second feed mistake -- I grabbed a bag of crumbles and went home not realizing I had bought layer crumbles. And you guessed it, layer crumbles are for pullets that are laying eggs, not for week old chickens. Baby chicks need a starter or starter/grower feed that has a certain protein and calcium balance. As they are developing, they need more protein. When they are laying, they need slightly less protein and slightly more calcium. About 6 weeks later, I noticed my girls seemed smaller than the others their age on my Facebook group. I checked the bag and sure enough, I found out why. I think I stunted their growth just a wee bit. Quick trip to the feed store, to fix the problem with a bag of Purina Start & Grow. Some folks don't like to give their chicks medicated feed. But for me, I figured I needed to give them the best chance at survival. Plus, I don't give them any once they are laying eggs. It's up to you what you want to do.


Complete Meal

I like the organic Scratch and Peck brand of layer feed for my flock. It actually smells appetizing. They come running for it! Peas, wheat, barley, sesame. What's not to love? I have a Royal Rooster gravity feeder that keeps the food from getting poop in it.



Corny Treats

I add whole corn to the mix for an extra boost. My rooster loves it, but it's more of a treat than the main course, so I only put a few handfuls in with a whole bag of regular feed. TriKee Tack is my go-to for whole corn.



Grit

Chickens don't have teeth, so they eat little rocks when they scratch around in the dirt. You will need to make sure they have some in their coop or run, especially if they are eating whole corn. Baby chicks don't need it when they are eating complete feed crumbles. Some feeds have it included in the mix. Check the bag to make sure you don't need to provide. I use oyster shell to provide more calcium for harder egg shells.




DE - Diatomaceous Earth

This magic chicken pixie dust is great. I mix a few tablespoons into their whole bag feed as a worm fighting element, and sprinkle a little in their nesting boxes to kill mites and lice. Just don't go too heavy as the dust can damage their sensitive lungs.



Snacks!

My chickens have learned the word "snacks." When they see the red solo cup in my hand, they scurry over like their hair is on fire. Meal worms. Yes, those are dried worms in my hand. I don't like them filling up on snacks, so they only get them in the afternoon -- and just a handful. They can also eat frozen berries and fruit when it's hot, to cool them down.


Supplements


If you are getting soft shell eggs, you might want to try adding a booster to your feed. This is also good during molting season if they haven't stopped laying altogether.. The additional OMEGA-3 are good for them. Some people will also crush and bake the eggshells and feed it back to the flock.



Check out our video for a tour of the coop, and see some products that make mealtime easy!


 
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Thems some lucky chickens!

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