Cindy wrote to ask this…
“Can chickens eat bird seed? I have bird feeders and the seeds fall out.“
Yes, chickens do fine with eating bird seed. It cannot replace their regular feed, though (some people have wanted to buy the less expensive bird seed and it doesn’t work). If the bird seed is just a supplement, your pet chickens will be fine. Actually, some people intentionally spread some bird seed on the ground to give their chickens another thing to peck at. So you should be fine with allowing your pet chickens to scratch below your bird feeders and eat the seed that falls out.
Chickens are quite clever at knowing what they need to keep healthy and to prevent deficiencies, so as long as they have access to what they need, they should keep strong and lay you lots of delicious eggs.
The general recommendation is that chickens should be provided with a good quality poultry pellet as the base of their diet. There are different type designed for their stage of life – whether a layer, or a growing hen who is to be a layer (known as a pullet).
The feed shown below is a product that has had very good reviews by those who have purchased it and fed it to their chickens, and may be worth considering.
As with the bird seed, it’s ok if some wheat or corn is scattered around for them to eat, but they need ample protein, calcium and minerals to provide you with great eggs.
A good supply of fresh fruit and veges are also important to keep chickens healthy and they should have access to them every day. These can just be kitchen scraps, but must be fresh – mouldy or spoiled or spoiling food can make chickens sick.
They are chickens, not a garbage disposal!
Definitely avoid feeding chickens citrus, garlic or onion, chocolate or avocado as these are known to be very bad for chickens. Don’t given them mower clippings as they can get mouldy quickly. Another bad food for chickens is rhubarb.
As with any living creature, a constant supply of fresh, clear water should be provided. In very hot climates make sure they don’t run out and in cold climates where the water may ice over or freeze, make sure this is replaced each morning.
It’s okay to feed chickens ‘table scraps’ such a brown (or wholemeal) rice, rolled oats, legumes and the like, but remember – whole foods are best for chickens (as they are for humans) and so keeping processed foods as a ‘sometimes’ food for chickens is a good idea. Foods such as bread and cooked pasta aren’t really meant to be consumed by chickens, but won’t hurt them in small amounts.
One other thing to mention is that for laying hens, a supply of coarse shell grit is important. Chickens don’t have teeth and they rely of a supply of fine grit that doesn’t dissolve in order to grind down their food. Sometimes chickens can get this grit from the ground they live on, but you can never be sure so it’s easy to just provide some shell grit. Laying hens also need a good supply of calcium, as egg shells are primarily make up of calcium carbonate and if they don’t get enough calcium, they can lay eggs that crack easily. Oyster shell grit is a common one and works quite well. A good quality chicken feed will also contain added calcium.
If you REALLY want to make your hens happy, Happy Hens Treast ” Mealworm Frenzy” have rave reviews by almost 200 customers!