If everyone spoke “chicken-ese”, no secrets would exist about what makes a good chicken food and nobody would ask, ‘What do chickens eat?’
Unfortunately, the chicken language isn’t currently taught anywhere, nor are there any detailed books on the subject! Thankfully, crafting delicious and healthy chicken food is a snap if you know about these five secrets to superior chicken feed.
#1 What Do Chickens Eat? LOTS – So Buy in Bulk
Fortunately for modern society, wonderful companies dedicated large amounts of time and effort into producing nutritionally balanced, easy-to-store, commercially available chicken food. Bags of any size are available for purchase, though the secret here is to buy in bulk. In some areas, this means shopping online instead of in a store, but you’ll never find a shortage of options for your feathered friends.
Once you have your bulk bag of ready-to-eat chicken pellets, it’s best to separate out the feed into smaller, more manageable containers. For example, take the time to distribute the fifty-pound bag of feed into one-gallon zipper locking bags. This makes it easy to store the remainder of your food on shelves, in a freezer or in a plastic storage bin. You can even take this a step farther and measure the portions to the amount you typically feed your birds on a daily basis. That way, it’s a grab and go chore that’s easy to do.
#2 What Vegetables do Chickens Eat? MANY – So Scrape Your Plates
If you’re not already composting those leftover veggies, eggshells and dried bones, they make an excellent addition to your chickens’ diet. To get it perfectly right, you have to understand that serving leftovers to chickens is a little more complicated than letting them have at your dinner plate when you’re done.
There are a few veggies, like avocados, that are harmful to chickens. A quick web search will ensure you know which ones to avoid. For the most part, many things in a healthy human diet translate well to chickens. The easiest way to keep everything mess-free is to gather your chicken-bound leftovers and prep scraps into a colander and rinse off any oils or other contaminants. After that, pat everything dry with a paper towel. If you’re serving bones or eggshells, send those through a food processor and crush everything down to a meal. Store it all in the fridge until you’re ready to serve your flock.
#3 What Do Chickens Eat Naturally? Plants AND Animals – Jiminy Crickets!
Chickens are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. A cricket is a wonderful source of protein and other nutrients. They’re available for purchase in bulk both online and in most pet stores. You can buy and serve them alive, or not alive, depending on your preference. This secret really answers your question of ‘what do chickens eat?’ and you have a few options in how you serve these scrumptious bugs to your birds.
Live crickets have the tendency to hop away rather quickly when you set them loose in your yard. However, you can overcome this by setting up a habitat designed specifically for crickets. These habitats also attract spiders, grasshoppers, centipedes and other bugs depending on your location. Make sure the habitat is protected enough to allow a community to become established, and you’ll have a buffet of fresh bugs to offer.
What Do Chickens Eat? Whatever they Feel Like! So Keep This in Mind When You Let Your Flock Loose in Your Yard!
#4 What Can You Feed Chickens Besides Feed? PLENTY – Chickens Love a Field for Foraging
A chicken never has to ask, ‘What do chickens eat’. That’s because, when left to their own devices in a healthy natural environment, these birds feed themselves just fine. One of the best things you can do for your flock is to create a sustainable micro-ecosystem. Plant sturdy shrubs, bushes and flowers to attract an array of insects to your chicken grazing area. Large tree logs laid down on their side serve as a perfect place for hens to peck and scratch their way to a nutritious reward. Include areas of sand, or small gravel, for the birds to sift through as well.
If your hens spend their time in a coop, you can still offer the benefits of a natural environment by placing potted plants around and within the enclosure. It’s important to keep the plants potted so that you can rotate them around every few days. Chickens love greens, and they will devour a plant if left alone with it for too long. Have an assortment of easy to carry, chicken edible plants to keep bugs frequenting your coop.
#5 Variety is Everything
There is no magical formula for the perfect chicken feed. However, a chicken tends to keep itself healthy when provided an array of nutritious foods. Offer your egg laying chickens a variety of everything from greens to pellets, from seeds to crickets, and you’ll ensure you have healthy hens that deliver you top quality eggs.