Tuesday, 26 January 2010
What to Feed Your Chickens
So you have got your chickens and now you are wondering what to feed them? A good question, to which the obvious answer is: food.
But what, I hear you cry, do chickens eat? We can answer that question by first of all finding out how they eat.
Chickens are omnivores, which is a Latin word meaning "to devour".
Ominous creatures are in the main opportunistic eaters, which means that they will eat anything that is handy or seems appealing at the time. Very much like you and I really. What ever takes their fancy?
Chickens feed themselves in the wild by eating seeds, bugs, grubs, insects, small mice and lizards. Because of this habit and to keep your chickens happy (which is vital if you want them to be healthy) you should always let you chickens " run about " as often as you can.
By allowing your chickens to do this you will be able to keep your chickens food cost down and also as a side effect, there will be less bugs in your garden to eat your veg!
There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you start keeping chickens;
Why do you want to keep chickens?: For eggs/meat/pets
Are you going to spend money on keeping chickens or do it on the cheap?
Make you own food or buy in?
Only you can answer those questions, but lets say that it is a bit of everything: you are going to keep chickens for a few eggs for breakfast, buy a bit of food and feed them your scraps; which I suppose is what most backyard chicken keepers do.
A few tips on buying food: go to a proper shop. By that I mean a farmers shop that sells "feeds" failing that buy your food at a busy pet shop. The reason for this is that you do not want stale or out of date food and a busy shop will have a good turn over of food stock....never buy chicken food that is on sale because the reason that it is on sale is because more then likely it is getting old. Also do not buy too much food at once so that it ends up going sour in your store.
When feeding your table scraps to your chickens do make sure that you do not feed them any meat. I know that chickens are ominous creatures and can eat meat but you do not know what the meat that you eat has been fed when it was an animal, it could well of been chicken offal and that is defiantly a no no (I assume you have heard of Mad Cow disease...that's what that was about; feeding dead animals to animals)
When you feed scraps to your chickens you will soon find out what they like and dislike by what they eat and don't eat.
Chickens are like people they eat what they like and leave what they don't like. I like chocolate but not everybody does.
A word of warning: never feed your chickens salt.
There are many good books on this subject, take a look around; make a start by looking at my blog you will find a very good book for you to look at there.
Richard has been keeping chickens for over 40 years: http://build-a-backyard-chicken-coop.blogspot.com/
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