Variety is key in chicken feed

Wheat and barleyAs our grain
start to
produce chicken feed, I decided I should look a bit further into how to
safely substitute homegrown elements for part of our chickens’
storebought diet.  I’ve posted previously that
is the first
factor to consider, but proportions of the components in feed is also

Poultry on Pasture

included a very helpful article that admonished me not to feed our
chickens more than 15% of a combination of oats and barley, more than
30% wheat, more than 25% peas, more than 10% flax seed, or
more than 5% fishmeal.  Too much oats, barley, and wheat in the
chickens’ diet can give them diarrhea, excess peas
it tough for chickens to digest protein
, and going overboard on flax
seed and fishmeal can add an unpleasant smell or taste to eggs and
meat.  The article didn’t say so, but my own research has turned
up the fact that most of the high protein seeds (sunflowers, soybeans,
etc.) are also high in phytic acid and should be fed in moderation.

The solution to most of
these problems is variety.  If you mix up a bit of oats, some
wheat, a healthy helping of corn, and then some higher protein sources,
your chickens will do better than if you just fed them wheat.  For
those of you, like me, who have only grown a limited amount of grain,
another solution is to just give your flock a handful of the fresh
stuff every day rather than trying to feed solely homegrown grains for
an extended period.  My plan is to toss grain-on-the-stalk into
the coop a bit at a time to refresh the deep bedding and give the
chickens a treat.

Our chicken waterer provides the other element
of a healthy diet — clean water.

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