Friday, January 29, 2010

Chicken Feed

Chickens are the best pet ever! They don't make much noise, they don't make a mess, they don't require any special attention, they go into their hen house at night without prodding, and they happily eat whatever you give them.

When I got the chickens they were used to a diet of organic chicken feed so that's what I got them to start out on. But organic chicken feed is expensive and you know how I feel about things that are expensive. So the plan was this: start them on the organic gradually tapering them to regular feed--just like you would when changing your dog or cat's food--but the real bulk of the chickens nutrition would not really come from the feed at all. It would come from table scraps.

Yes, chickens can eat table scraps! I've been feeding them all the fruit and veggie ends that are leftover from meal prep: carrot peels, celery tops, apple cores, cabbage and lettuce leaves; food that has gone bad in my refrigerator and cupboard: moldy tomatoes, hard ends of cheese, stale bread; and scrapings from the dinner plates: the last bites of mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, brocolli, and salad. All these things would usually go straight down the disposal but not any more.

Chickens are omnivores which means they eat plant and animal sources of food, vegetation and bugs and worms. Because they are omnivores you can feed your chickens meat table scraps too. I have not fed them any meat--that usually goes to the dog--but my friend feeds her chickens meat from dinner leftovers all the time. Her chickens love steak pieces and hamburger. She doesn't feed them chicken.

I have found that the chickens will not eat any citrus and Cora discovered that they don't like banana peels (no big surprise). They have a hard time eating anything that is in a huge chunk--remember they only have small pokey beaks--but they will try to eat anything! I cut things like potato peels and cabbage chunks into smaller pieces for them.

I have a collection jar on my counter next to my sink that all these pieces get tossed into. Throughout the day as we have items that might go into the disposal we scrape them into the jar instead. At feeding time (dinnertime and breakfast) we take whatever is in the jar and simply throw it into the chicken run. Boy do those chickens come running!! They love scratching around and pecking at the ground for their meal. On days when there aren't so many scraps they get more chicken feed and always they get a fresh tub of water (an old plastic one gallon ice cream tub).

The chickens also love it when the girls throw them weeds from the yard. They love grass clippings and rosemary and sorrel and dandelions and everything else that has been thrown into their coop. A few times they have escaped from the coop and have been found roaming through my garden beds doing my winter weeding for me. Who can complain about that?!

Dave hasn't complained about the chickens at all, a big surprise. Moe, the black Lab, has gotten used to them and doesn't bark at them so much. The kids really enjoy going out to watch them and chase them and play with them. I am very happy with such an easy and helpful pet. I can't wait to get our first eggs.

1 comment:

  1. So cool! I want to have chickens!


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