Logsdon, author of Small-Scale
posted on his blog last week about
a farmer who sold a large crop of grain and used the same money to buy
a much smaller amount of processed chicken feed. Logsdon wrote:
have kept hens for over 30 years now, feeding them almost completely
on whole corn and wheat. I could probably get a few more eggs if
commercial mash with all the supplements and vitamins that are supposed
to be in it but I’m confident that the extra eggs would have been just
about enough to pay for the extra cost of the purchased feed.
Since this concept is
right up my alley, I asked him for more information. He explained
that his current flock of 12 laying hens and a rooster “range over
about an acre of woodland and a bit of pasture and some lawn.” He
supplements their diet with about four ears of whole corn or a quart of
wheat every day, increasing the amount a bit in the winter and
providing oyster shell at all times. Since we feed our chickens
about a cup apiece of processed feed per day, he’s cutting back his
feed by two thirds with his forest pasture.
On the other hand,
Logsdon does feed his meat birds commercial feed to “get them fattened
in a hurry and out of here.” This bit of data makes me think that
my current forest pasture experiment is a bit too ambitious for phase
1. I think our next incarnation will involve our layers on
pasture, and our broilers in tractors on commerical feed.
For those keeping track
foraging chicken varieties at home, Logsdon and a
commenter suggested these breeds
— Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orphingtons, Golden Comets, Australorp,
Speckled Sessex, and bantams in general.
waterer is perfect
for chicken tractors, forest pastures, and traditional coops.