So, you have bought your chickens and put them in the coop and wondering what to do next?
First thing you must do and not neglect is: water. Give them fresh water and make sure they have it on tap all the time. There are many fine water feeding systems on the market, just pick a system that suits you and your pocket.
Next thing is your have decided to feed them yourself and not buy in food as such. Well that is fine; people have been doing that for centuries. If you do it right and have the right breed, then your chickens will be healthy and give you a few eggs.
The chickens will eat anything and if they don’t like it, they will leave it…its as simple as that. Before we start, they are two things that you must not do.
Never feed the chickens meat of any kind and never ever feed them salt. Chickens like us, very much appreciate a varied diet and in the wild the birds will go round eating grains, seeds, bugs insects and small manuals. So with your home feeding system it is a good idea to let them roam round and pick up what they can. Doing this will also keep the “bugs” down in you garden as well as feeding your flock.
As well as water, the other thing that chickens need is grit. A home made method (a bit of an old wives thing) for this is to take the egg shells that you get and put them in the oven until they are crunchy and then break them up as small as you can…try and get them like a course grit and then make this available to the flock. Do not give the chickens oyster shells because they are not good for them you would have to buy these anyway and we are not doing that, are we?
Summer or Winter:
It is a good idea to hang a cabbage up so that the chickens have to peck at it. This is good because it will keep them busy and also give them “greens”
I am assuming that your chickens are running around outside and getting “their natural food” as well; so you can feed them anything that you have left from your table.
There are some foods that you must not feed them which are: raw green potato peels/dried or uncooked beans/avocado skins and pit/raw eggs/sugar/sweets/citrus or chocolate. All these foods contain a toxin of one form or another (without being too scientific). Chocolate is poison to most pets; thank God all the more for us! And as already been said; salt or anything really salty because salt can poison small animals.
Once again, this is very simple: The same as in the summer only boil everything up and throw it in the trough when it has cooled down a bit.
Now if you are not buying food, there are ways of getting extra food in without handing out cash.
Barter….if you keep one or two more chickens then you need you will have a few extra eggs.
Go down to your local shop and see what they are throwing out because it is out of date..old cakes, bread, veg, grains of any type or anything else that they have and over them sum fresh eggs for their breakfast.
Your can also do the same with your neighbors; get them collecting scrapes and offer eggs in return.
There is one thing that you must remember with this type of feeding: have a cleaning routine for the feeding trough and do not leave old food laying about to get stale and attract vermin.
Richard Haigh has been keeping chickens for over 40 years: http://build-a-backyard-chicken-coop.blogspot.com/.
Photo. Magda Ehlers