How to feed chickens, naturally, for more delicious and nutritious eggs; it can be done! Whether you’re a backyard homesteader or have acres to work with; you can feed chickens naturally for tastier and healthier eggs.
Feed Chickens – What Feed to Use
For laying hens you’re going to want a 16% protein feed, that’s the basics. I will go further and recommend that you use a feed that is organic and gmo-free. To ensure that you are getting the best nutrition for your hens and then, in turn, for yourself you should eliminate feed with corn and soy. Corn and soy are high on the list of genetically modified foods and no one needs to be eating that. If you’re chickens are ingesting gmos via corn and soy…you are too.
Feed Chickens – Pasture and Grazing for ALL
I don’t have acres. I keep a small flock in my backyard. But I also have gorgeous and yummy orange yolks like my hens have been in the back 40 all day long. How you ask? I use my weeds, garden and kitchen scraps to keep them in good greens. Yes, I let weeds grow in my yard! My girls do not free range all year long; during the summer they have more freedom because, in Phoenix, this is not a high gardening time. So they can freely eat the grass and weeds. But in the Fall and Winter when my garden is abundant and I don’t want them in it, they are confined to their coop and a large yard. But everyday I will pull a variety of weed from my grassy area, rock path, etc and put that into the yard for them to scratch through and devour at will. When I prune and harvest from the garden they will also get greens that won’t cut it in the house, like radish greens that my family doesn’t care for. In addition I save many of the fresh vegetable “scraps” from the kitchen for them. All this to mimic the diet of pasture raised chickens. AND IT WORKS! Just make sure you use NO chemicals at all in your yard.
Feed Chickens – Don’t Forget They’re Omnivores
Again, when your chickens are free ranging in your backyard or over your property, they won’t just be eating greens; they’ll be eating bugs, lizards and even mice (if they find them). So don’t forget when you feed chickens, that they are omnivores. When your chickens are in a coop you can mimic their “pest hunt” by feeding them any bugs you find in your organic garden. There is nothing quite like feeding a dreaded tomato worm to my raptors with wings. Another treat you can offer freeze-dried meal worms, live meal worms from the pet store or the MUCH more affordable option of growing your own meal worms (see video below).
Feed Chickens – Other Considerations for Delicious and Nutritious Eggs
There are a few other options that will help you to make sure you are giving the best nutrition to your chickens and then to yourself.
- Consider Fodder – I do this on a small scale by growing sprouts for my hens. But if you have a large flock you might want to get into a full scale fodder system.
- Try Fermenting Your Chicken Feed – lacto fermenting your chicken’s feed can offer them the same gut-healing good bacteria that is does for you!
- Add Herbs into Their Diet – not only can herbs make for a healthier coop, the chickens enjoy eating them too. The best resource I’ve found for using herbs with chickens is the book Fresh Eggs Daily