Chicken Treats

Woodman
By Woodman on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - 5:38pm

With the cost of chicken feed having increased more than 25% around here in the past couple years, I've been trying to supplement my flock's layer pellets with "treats" each morning.  Here's a couple things I do; what ideas to others have?

Any kitchen scraps like carrott peelings, apple cores etc. go in a bowl on the counter for the chickens.  They love old bread and pasta too.   I also generate a lot peelings from potatoes and squash since I grow all my own.  I've read raw potatoe peelings should not be fed to chickens, so I put peelings in an old saucepan on the wood stove to cook in the evening when I have a fire going anyway.  All the squash seeds and stuff inside, plus any squash starting to get soft go in there too.

Once in a while I get a cracked egg; I'll cook that too and mash it up real well so hopefully it doesn't look or smell like raw eggs.  

Corncobs are also tasty treats, when it's the season.

10 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Online)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1818
Grocery market 'expired' produce

I shared this a while back:

A few months back I was walking in the produce aisle of my neighborhood market. I found myself wondering what they did with all the perishable fruits & vegetables that don't sell.

As I assumed, the store manager confirmed for me they toss a lot of produce out every day because of mandated FDA freshness regulations. The produce certainly still looks fine & perfectly edible when it's declared "expired", but the store is required to throw it away.

I told the manager I had a few chickens and asked if he'd mind if I came by every few days to nab some of the food they've tossed out. He loved the idea of supporting a local "farmer" (in my incredibly-suburban Silicon Valley backyard) and invited me to simply drop off a 5-gallon bucket in the morning which their produce inspector fills for me & then pick it back up at my leisure later in the afternoon.

I'm happy because I'm getting a lot of free, very high-quality, nutrutious food for my birds.

He's happy because his waste product is now going to productive use in the community. Plus he gets free eggs from me every once in a while.

My chickens, of course, are thrilled. 

Sharing as a model for you other backyard chicken farmers to consider...

I've since moved out of Silicon Valley since writing this, but was able to strike a similar deal with a local market in my new town within days of arriving.

If you can do this, it's a great way to get top-notch nutrition for your chickens for the price of a few eggs every couple of weeks.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1508
pumkin' chunkin' ckickens

We gave our two of our three "expired" Halloween pumpkins to a co-worker who has chickens. They loved them.  We get our eggs from him for now, until we get our own birds.

Not this week, though. His "girls" aren't laying much in the dead of winter and he says, "Chicken soup is looking pretty good right now."

Lnorris's picture
Lnorris
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When we built our coop

When we built our coop last year we faced one of the windows toward the south and another to the east so they would get as much light as possible.  So far our six are still laying 2-4 eggs a day.  Today we got three.  

They are a riot and each has their own distinct voice and personality.  

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Posts: 239
let them out

I find that when we let the chickens out to free range they eat significantly less feed.  The issue is when.  We live in a rural-suburban boundary, so the houses are fairly far apart, but if I let them out of their enclosure at the wrong time, they end up too far from home near the road, etc.  One strategy is to let them out about 60-90 minutes before roosting time.  Another is to let them out when the temperature is near or below freezing, cool and cloudy, rainy or snowy.  They don't go far then and come back to the coop every hour of so to warm up or escape the rain.  It's amazing how much they find to eat when they're out of their enclosure even now given the warm winter we've had so far.  Another thing that worked out well was to dump several tarps full of leaves in their enclosure this fall.  They continue to pick through them and find insects to eat.  I also gave them a fairly large enclose (almost 1500 sq ft. for 8 chickens).  It's not so large they don't reduce it to dirt, but they do find a fair bit to eat in it.  Peanut butter and jelly crusts are also excellent chicken feed (and apparently not appropriate food for children).

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Posts: 239
light and laying

Lnorris wrote:

When we built our coop last year we faced one of the windows toward the south and another to the east so they would get as much light as possible.  So far our six are still laying 2-4 eggs a day.  Today we got three.  

They are a riot and each has their own distinct voice and personality.  

Our coop isn't too bright, but they're outside on all but the coldest days.  We've been getting about 3-4 eggs per day from 8 chickens. 

LogansRun's picture
LogansRun
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1369
Adam, how about GMO's?

How do you know that the vegi's are organic, and not GMO?  Do you worry about that when feeding the chickens?

Because we eat nothing but locally grown or organic vegi's/fruits/meats, I don't worry about that too much.

But your idea sounds great, and would save some $ in the long run.

Thoughts? 

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 2743
light and water

We put an electric light in the coop on a timer so that, between natural and artificial light, and a south facing window, they have light about 12 hours a day.  We also have a warmer in their water so it doesn't freeze.  From the six hens we are averaging 4-5 eggs a day, although it has become a bit more erratic in the past month or so.  We have apparently conditioned them to lay earlier in the day as we don't let them out of their run until they lay at least 4 eggs, usually by noon.

Fortunately, our neighbors are very tolerant of the chickens visiting occasionally, so they get to "free range" a lot of the time.  We share eggs with a couple neighbors and a local food bank.  It helps keep us in touch with the community.

The one downside is the rooster attacks.  He's gotten sneaky about it, so I am constantly wary when anywhere near him.

Doug

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Online)
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Posts: 1818
Depends on the market you're sourcing from

LR -

Basically, I guess just ask your market grocer whether his/her produce has GMOs or not. 

I worry about GMOs less than I should, and it wouldn't surprise me if my Silicon Valley supply had GMO vegetables in it. I never asked.

In my new town, the small market I buy from sources only from local organic growers, so my confidence there is high my veggies are GMO-free.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
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Posts: 1025
letting the chickens out

I've noticed too my flock eats less feed when they can have the run of my 1 acre lot.  They pretty much stay on my land and have never crossed the road.  Some breeds will range farther than others.  They come back to the coop at night, except for 2 araucanas that never go in the coop anymore. They must be sleeping in the trees at night. They'll get picked off by a predator sooner or later if they don't smarten up!

jasonw's picture
jasonw
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Posts: 780
Chicken / Doggy Bag

Whenever we are too tired to cook and decide to go out for a meal, we make sure to bring a container or bag to gather up all the scraps and leftovers off our plates that normally go into the trash at a restaurant.  We might get a few weird looks now and then but the smiles on my chickens when they see me coming with the bowl balances everything out.  The dog might not be to happy about it though.

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