I’ve been making chicken food for a while now to make sure that the hens have nutritious treats, especially when most scratch grains are just corn or soy. There are many highly nutritious grains which can be fed to hens that are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids which will boost the nutrient content of eggs and meat.
Chickens love to scratch about in the dirt and the scratch grain sold in stores is not chicken food but a treat to encourage this natural chicken behavior.
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I don’t really like giving my hens foods which are not going to benefit them and I feed them organic layer food to give them a good start. If you can’t afford to give them organic, give your chickens the best feed you can afford.
The feed should have a good amount of protein in it to help provide the proper fuel for your flock, too many carbs easily become fat . Corn is almost all carbohydrate (and kinda like when I fall off the diet wagon into bread, cake, cookies and chips) a high carb diet has a similar effect on a chicken: weight gain.
I have experimented with making my own fermented chicken feed which was made from organic chicken scratch, oats, chia, flaxseed and some grains I had in the pantry like barley. The Cluckers love the spent grains from brewing beer too!
Making Chicken Food
Making your own chicken scratch is super easy and takes less than 5 minutes!
I always make sure to get grains which are full of healthy essential fatty acids in my chicken scratch and I make up each batch slightly differently depending on what I have on hand. These healthy grains include:
For this particular batch of chicken scratch, I added a cup of black oil sunflower seeds, a cup of oats, some mealworms, 1/2 cup hemp hearts, 1/4 cup flaxseed and 1/2 cup chia seeds into a large mason jar and mixed it up.
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Sometimes I add nuts like almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts to the mix. My girls like walnuts and there’s a couple of trees nearby in neighbor’s yards which often end up in our yard from kids throwing them. The girls know the sound of walnuts being cracked and go crazy for them, almost as excited as crickets and grasshoppers!
I scatter about a cup in the run and let the girls scratch and peck about after the grains.
We have a friend who has backyard chickens and he swears that chia seeds give double yolkers in his flock. We haven’t seen any double yolkers but we see a big color difference between store bought, barn raised eggs and our girls’ eggs.
A good quality feed and nutritious treats mean that the meat and eggs produced by your flock will be better nutritionally speaking than commercially raised meat and eggs.
My flock has a high omega-3 diet from the seeds and nuts as well as lots of organic leafy greens like kale and chard and the water is treated with a vitamins and probiotic supplement to make sure that all the girls have access to the nutrients they need. This is because some of the girls tend to hog the veggies in the run and won’t let the others near them.
Omega-3’s help with feather growth, eyesight, cardiovascular system and brain function. Chicken eggs from pasture raised birds have lower cholesterol than barn reared commercial eggs too.
Fresh leafy vegetables in a variety of colors will provide your flock with calcium and other needed nutrients as well as breaking boredom.
To find out more about chicken nutrition take a look at my previous post about keeping chickens healthy in wintertime.
Do you make your own chicken food or chicken treats? What do you put in there? If you have any tips to share with me or other readers please share them in the comments or at the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love to hear your ideas and tips.
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