I’m not sure why the Lord saw fit to bless me with the arrival of all these cool animals over the last few weeks, but I sure am thankful for it.
I’ve been wanting chickens for years. YEARS, people.
And this past week with my 15 hens has been awesome. I visit them half a dozen times per day. It’s almost an addiction. I love watching them scratch at the ground, peck at their food, and roost on the logs in their coop.
They’re sort of still in their awkward teenage years where they’re not quite mature and beautiful yet, but still sort of gangy and awkward looking. No judgement here though. I’m just happy to have them.
When we found out that we’d be getting chickens upon our arrival in Washington, I began researching homemade chicken feed options. It’s no doubt convenient to pick up the scratch or pelleted formula from the feed store, but I really wanted a primarily organic, non-GMO, non-soy based diet for the ‘ol girls. Healthier for them and better nutrients in our eggs.
As much as I’d like these chickens to free range, I’ve got far too much invested in my garden beds to let them do such. They have a nice large coop to roam and roost in and for the time being, they’re better off in there. I’m willing to put forward the extra effort though to supplement them with as much of a free-range-mimicked-diet as I can though.
When one thinks about what the chicken actually eats when it free ranges, it’s pretty easy to supplement with grains and grasses. Bugs are also a nice addition, should you have any extras (extra worms from our vermiculture bin work great for this!). There are a few great store bought options for feeding your chickens (have you heard about Scratch & Peck feed?) but they are much too expensive for our feed budget. Hence, the making it at home.
Let me point this out before I begin: it’s very, very important to source your grains wisely. For example, you’ll see that the recipe calls for flax seed. If you head to your local grocery store to stock up on bulk flax, you’re going to cry when you get to the cash register – it simply isn’t cost effective to buy it from there. Call your local feed store and ask about bulk, organic grains. Azure Standard is where we order all our grains from and is a great option for animal feed (I’ve included the price per pound on each grain that was ordered from there in the recipe below). Amazon also has deals on bulk grains sometimes. Shop around and find the most economically feasible option that you can. Then, store them in cool containers like this so that the mice don’t feast on your goods!
In addition to our homemade grain mixture, I also supplement our chickens with all of our kitchen scraps (things like carrot peelings, stale bread, or old greens) and a few large armfuls of weeds each day. They love to eat the tender leaves off the wildflowers and weeds that grow around here. This gives them a large variety of foods to receive their nutrients from, which I think is nice for them.
Welp. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Homemade Chicken Feed (organic, non-GMO, non-soy)
Note: The prices below reflect the price we pay through Azure Standard.
You will need:
– 12 cups organic, feeder oats (.34 cents/lb)
– 8 cups organic, soft white wheat (.38 cents/lb)
– 8 cups organic, hard red wheat (.26 cents/lb)
– 6 cups organic corn (.42 cents/lb)
– 4 cups organic lentils (.54 cents/lb)
– 4 cups organic split peas (.47 cents/lb)
– 2 cups organic flax seed (1.68/lb)
– 1 cup sesame seeds (2.27/lb)
– 3/4 cup kelp granules (3.25/lb)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or molasses
Simply combine all the ingredients together in a large bucket. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix and combine all the grains. The olive oil will help the powdered kelp to stick to the grains easily.
Kelp is an important addition – it helps to provide vital minerals to the chickens and is an inexpensive way to do such.
I find that my 15 chickens eat about 4 cups of this mixture per day. I’ve inspected the soil closely to see if their leaving particular grain behind but for the most part, they don’t sort through the mixture, so I am glad! Even though they aren’t fully grown, they can still easily eat the split peas, whole corn, and lentils just fine. They love the wheat, especially.
When I feed the chickens, I simply scatter the feed along the ground in their run. This entertains them, as they can spend their morning scratching through the soil like they do naturally. During the winter months, I’ll feed them inside the coop, but during the warm, dry months this seems to work fine.
This homemade feed not work for everyone, and it may not be as cost effective for everyone, but it has worked wonderfully for us. The chickens seem to be thriving on the whole grain diet and I am thankful to be able to provide them with such nutritional awesomeness.
Also note: while it’s possible to make this feed without corn, I have no reason to do such. Because I am able to buy an organic, non-GMO from Azure, I feel confident feeding it to my chickens in this quantity. If left to their own devices free-ranging, chickens would punish some corn. So corn it is, for us. Feel free to substitute for another high protein feed stuff (such as sunflower seeds), if you wish.
You know what the best part is about this feed? We get to share it with the chickens! Ha! I filled up our wheat bucket that I keep in the kitchen right before I mixed this together for them. And after that, I strolled down to the shop to fill up my mason jar with lentils. Score!
Chickens are cool. So is homemade chicken feed. If that’s what you’re into.
I totally am.
UPDATE: I finally calculated the cost of making this per pound. Based on the price we paid for the grains as of June, 2013 it equates out to .47 cents per pound. Our 15 layers currently eat 1.75 pounds per day, which means it costs us .81 cents per day to feed them this diet.
Peas: .47/lb, 2 pounds = .94
Flax: 1.68/lb, .75 pounds = 1.26
Sesame seeds: 2.27/lb., .25 pounds = .56
Lentils: .55/lb., 2 pounds = 1.1
Corn: .43/lb., 2.5 pounds = 1.075
Soft white wheat: .38/lb., 3.5 pounds = 1.33
Hard white wheat: .26/lb., 3.5 pounds = .91
Oats= .34/lb., 3.25 pounds = 1.105
Kelp granules = 3.25/lb., 1/2 ounce = .10
The recipe makes a 17.75 pound batch. Total cost is $8.38. This equates to .47 cents per pound.
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