Many backyard chicken owners opt to mix their own feed mix. Doing it this way often results in savings when compared to purchasing pre-packaged 10lb bags from feed mills.
Home-cooked feed should include sprouts (rich in probiotics and protein), kelp granules/meal (natural mineral booster), flax seed (Omega-3 rich), flax meal, brewer’s yeast and other components to provide B complex vitamins. It should also contain calcium from sources like gypsum or rock salt.
Chickens can get many of their vitamins and minerals through natural, healthy diets like grains, green leafy vegetables, insects or worms for food sources like free-range foraging or free-ranging pasture foraging. When an unexpected deficiency arises – like decreased egg production or feather damage – adding vitamin and mineral supplements can be effective way to restore balance to their diets and ensure their eggs continue to produce eggs regularly.
Commercial feed recipes are designed to give your flock complete, balanced nutrition. But homemade mixes may be more cost-effective and easier for you to prepare than commercial ones, plus provide greater control of ingredients used–something essential for successful poultry gardening.
Take note that chickens require only small quantities of vitamins and minerals – any more will only cause health issues for your girls! Think of it like shopping the supplement aisle at your local drugstore: Too much can be costly as well as bad for their wellbeing!
Chickens need protein, energy, vitamins and minerals in their diet in order to thrive. While free-ranging birds may gather some of these essential nutrients from greens or foraging activities, poultry feed provides them all in order to ensure a balanced diet for each chicken.
Grain products form the cornerstone of most homemade chicken feed mixes, providing carbohydrates and energy for your flock. Corn is often chosen for more energy while wheat offers greater balance.
Poultry feed typically contains both vegetable- and animal-derived proteins, such as soybean meal and corn gluten, to provide additional proteins and amino acids to birds. Fish meal and bone meal may be added for additional amino acid content.
Commercial feed manufacturers typically add mineral-rich ingredients such as limestone, crushed oyster shells and seaweed to their products for additional nutrition. Furthermore, supplements may be added for vitamins and minerals not naturally present in feed; however excessive supplements could create an imbalance and compromise flock health.
Chickens need protein and fat in their diet for energy, growth and the supply of essential fatty acids. Furthermore, greens provide crucial vitamins and minerals as a source of nutrition as does foraging for foodstuffs such as mushrooms.
As part of making your own feed, the proportions can vary according to the needs of your flock, although you should keep 17 percent protein as an average target percentage for laying hens. Different grains will affect protein percentage differently; hard red wheat and kamut (also known as khorasan or emmerdale) provide an ideal mix.
Other essential ingredients include sea kelp (minerals), brewer’s yeast (B complex), flax seed (Omega-3), food-grade lime or aragonite for calcium (essential for egg shell strength), fermentation of whole grains or sprouting them can make them easier for digestibility, providing additional probiotics; leftover kitchen scraps like cabbage leaves, carrot peelings, used egg shells for grit (for use as grit), yogurt and bananas are great treats for your flock as well.
Poultry feed producers develop recipes designed to meet the nutritional needs of chickens. Although mixing your own feed may be possible, doing it correctly requires both time and knowledge of how best to balance ingredients for each type of flock in terms of age and type. An improperly balanced ration could compromise growth rates in chicks or inhibit egg production among layers.
Bagged poultry feed is specifically formulated to ensure your flock receives all of the essential vitamins and nutrients daily, so feeding additional snacks, fruits and vegetables, scratch grains, mealworms or kitchen scraps dilutes the balanced nutrition that should come from their bagged feed. Limiting treats such as these to occasional small servings helps avoid health problems like worm infestations, aggression and obesity among laying hens.
To create homemade chicken feed, combine several pounds of the following ingredients into a 5-gallon bucket and mix well. Additionally, shell grit and oyster shell may help your birds build stronger eggshells.