Back in May, I wrote a blog post on “Feeding the Flock,” in which I explained how I change the types of feed my small flock of chickens eat: from the medicated starter that they briefly receive in their tiny little feeder when they are first hatched, until they are on layer pellets as adults.I ended the post with a question: What do you feed your chickens?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.It’s partly because I’ve spent the summer and early fall reading about poultry farming, healthful eating, organic gardening and homesteading, but it’s also because I’ve been thinking about the effect of drought in some of the areas where grains for feed is grown.I have also become very conscious of what goes on my own plate — which led to thoughts of what’s on my chickens’ plates.
But I also know that easiest is not necessarily best.According to the reading I’ve done, foraging is likely the most desirable choice, especially for summer feeding, but that’s not really an option here. We are not able to safely free range our hens because of the close proximity of the road to the coop — we live on a narrow strip of land in a valley.On one side of the coop there’s the road; the other side is flanked with the hillside and home to an active red fox den.Red-tailed hawks nest in the trees, and dive-bomb mourning doves at my bird feeder for lunch.So, we keep the girls fenced in a good-sized run, and take them out a few at a time to forage in the small, screened summerhouse. I supplement commercial feed with greens and kitchen scraps, and on cool fall days or cold, snowy winter mornings I even offer a dish of warmed oatmeal, nuts and raisins.