What do chickens eat? That is a very common question from new owners and some long time owners as well. The reason is because everyone wants beautiful healthy chickens that lay a lot of eggs. Most chickens lay pretty steady for the first year, even if you don’t know what your doing. It’s after that when the trouble starts. They don’t look good, they stop laying eggs, they get sick and they fight and peck each other. That leaves everyone thinking What Happened? What am I doing wrong?
Chickens are just like people, if you want to be healthy you have to eat healthy and give your body what it needs. That doesn’t mean, give your body what tastes good or what the popular diet of the minute says to eat. What I mean, is feed your chickens what they need to be healthy and productive.
First we have to think about how a loose chicken acts. Is it grazing on grass like a horse or is it scratching in the dirt to find bugs and worms, or does it do both? We can all see for ourselves if we let our chickens loose and sit and watch them. You will get a better idea if you live in the country as apposed to a small yard or city, but I can tell you they spend more time in the woods looking for bugs than they do eating grass in the yard. In fact when they are in the grass they are looking for seeds and not eating much grass at all.
I always try and feed all my animals as close to natural as I can. I feed my horses different grass hays because that is what wild horses eat. Why would I change that? Just because feed companies say, feed this it’s a balanced diet, and sell a bag of wheat middlings and soybean hulls coated in sugar with some vitamins through in. Doesn’t mean it is a whole food natural diet.
I want to feed myself and all my animals whole food. Yes, a bag of chicken pellets or crumbles can be used but always after or in addition to all the whole food they want.
I don’t even buy pellets or crumbles anymore because my chickens don’t eat it and it just goes to waste. They are full and satisfied on their healthy food.
Here is what I do feed:
- Whole Corn
- Black Sunflower Seeds
- Meat such as Meal Worms
- Table scraps
- Canned Tuna
- High Quality Canned Cat and Dog Food
- No Grain Cat Kibble
I feed some bread for a treat. From my cupboard, I will feed raw oatmeal, crackers, cooked rice or pasta, all leftover table scraps and spoiled fruit.
For Baby Chicks
If mama hen hatches out her own babies, she will take care of them herself. Just make sure you use shallow water bowls like pie plates for their water, so the chicks don’t drowned. I use two, one at each end of the coop.
If you bought your chicks from a store, buy a bag of non medicated organic chick starter and a bag of chick grit.
Every chicken on the planet needs grit from day one to digest their food, so make sure they have it available at all times. I use crushed oyster shells once they have feathers because not only does it act as grit but it also adds calcium to their diet. Hens need calcium for their muscles to work properly so they can push out an egg. Egg bound hens are lacking calcium.
I also will feed alfalfa hay. Chickens love alfalfa and it adds calcium as well.
It’s very important and can’t be stated enough that chickens need to be dewormed on a regular schedule. I use fresh water, food grade Diatomaceous Earth and mix it right into their tub of food. I have found over the years that is the easiest way to do it.