What do chickens eat in the wild

Pie chart of the optimal chicken dietNow
that our
to chicken tractors series
has wound down, I’m going to
turn my attention to chicken feed.  Most backyard chicken keepers
probably go the easy route just like we do and buy commerical chicken
feed at the store.  This grain-based feed certainly isn’t the
cheapest option, and I wonder if it’s the healthiest.

Before delving into
traditional homemade chicken feed formulas and modern alternatives, I
wanted to take a look at what chickens would eat in nature.  It turns out that Jungle
Fowl (
wild ancestor of the domestic chicken
) feed primarily on
Scientists who cut open the crops of wild Jungle Fowl found that half
or more of the mashed up food in there was typically insects and other
invertebrates (especially termites.)  Various plant matter was
also represented, especially fruits, berries, bamboo seeds, nuts, and
young leaves.

The upshot is clear —
if we want to wean ourselves off a dependence
on store-bought chicken feed, we shouldn’t be planting rows of wheat
and barley.  Instead, we need to find ways to provide our chickens
with copious insects, or at least some sort of feed high in
protein.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I highlight the

Meanwhile, check out our
automatic chicken waterer, the other key to healthy

99 cent pasture ebookThis post is part of our Homemade Chicken Feed series
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