What and How to Feed Chickens
Feeding hens is more than just throwing grain, you must take into account the age of the hens and your goal for them. You’ll need to use different feed for hens which will be egg producers than you will for those meant for meat production.
Start out your chicks on twenty to twenty-two percent protein for egg producers and up that to 24% for meat hens. Until the age of 6-9 weeks (depending on the breed), this starter should be used. Meat chickens should then be put on “broiler finish” grain until they are ready to slaughter.
If you are raising meat hens you should think about choosing chicken feed that has antibiotics to prevent Coccidiosis. This is also a good idea for any hen unless you are planning to sell products that are “free range” or “organic”.
Raising your own meat hens may not seem like the most pleasant thing, but it prevents your family from ingesting the hormone load given to commercial chickens to increase the growth rate and size.
Chickens as Adults
Once hens reach adulthood, they are often moved to a fourteen percent protein feed. Calcium is also very important for egg layers and for large breed hens such as Jersey Giants.
Chicken feed is sold as pellets, crumbles, mash and scratch. The best way to get the most balanced diet for your hens is to mix some scratch in with pellets or crumbles and then supplement with vegetables and calcium.
Adding clean, crushed egg shells into their feed can supplement the calcium for the chickens. Chickens know what they need, so they’ll eat what they require if it’s available.
Peelings and Vegetables
Leftover veggies like spinach, Romain, carrot peels, and whole grains like oatmeal, barley, and small amounts of fruit make your hens healthier and happier. Just remember this is a supplement to chicken feed, not a replacement. Your chickens must have the protein and other nutrients that is provided by a good hen feed unless they are totally free range in a very nutritious environment.
Just remember that as long as it is fresh, you can give it to your chickens instead of throwing it down the garbage disposal – as long as it is not a meat product, of course.
Chicken tractors give you the ability to move your flock from place to place in your yard. This allows the chickens exercise and gives them fresh available bugs, vegetation, and grit. If you have not the room for free ranging, you can use a chicken tractor to move them in a relatively small space without ruining it.
This will also help keep your yard from getting brown spots where the hens scratch to find morsels.
Beware of using fertilizers or pesticides in areas where the hens will be scratching. They are not picky when pecking at granules on the ground and can poison themselves and your eggs.
Weed killers and sprays can poison chickens who eat the plants they’ve been sprayed on. Whatever your chickens eat ends up in them and their eggs. Pesticides and chemicals can be in your eggs before the chicken shows any sign of illness.
If done properly, your home-grown hens and eggs will provide wonderful nutrition for your family. Well fed hens provide excellent eggs and meat.
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