Chicken Feed

1 Apr

Would somebody please explain why I find this advice plastered all over the internet?

“Table scraps are, at best, junk food for your chickens. Scraps should be offered sparingly as an occasional extra-special treat, and the chicken’s primary nutritional requirements should come from scientifically-formulated bought feed, grass, and bugs.”

What in the world is wrong with feeding my chickens vegetable, fruit, and meat trimmings, dairy that has gone off, and the “used” food the kids mess up but don’t eat? Is a steady diet of bought dry feed really more nutritious than fresh food?

I doubt it, and my hens will continue to dine on table scraps. In fact, I’m looking for a larger source of food waste so my hens have even more variety of delicious fruits, vegetables, and animal protein.

The one point I do agree with is that bought feed is scientifically balanced nutrition. Chickens that eat nothing but bought feed survive. But my chickens don’t live in an egg factory – they spend their days outside in the sunshine foraging all sorts of tasty bugs and plants. This means that the chicken’s diet already is different from the carefully formulated diet provided in their supplemental feed. And the chickens are healthier for it.

At some point every chicken keeper should realize that chickens are omnivores that eat whatever plants and  seeds they have access to, and any rodents, frogs, snakes, or lizards they can catch. Table scraps tend to be more of the same food chickens find in nature – vegetables, fruits, seeds, and animal protein from meat, dairy, or fish.

My immediate goal then, is to find cheap sources of fresh, highly nutritious, and varied food offerings so I can eventually quit buying dry feed altogether. Someday, maybe I’ll even get to the point that the chickens can forage a complete diet right out of our food forest, with no supplemental feed at all.