If you’re just starting with chickens, you might be curious about the best foods to feed them. Cinderella’s animated chickens devour full kernels of corn thrown on the ground in the Disney classic.
What do chickens eat that looks like that? What about the leftovers from your meal? How healthy is store-bought chicken feed for them? Does a chicken-like eat insects?
Chickens need a wide array of nutrients in their food, including grain, protein, and calcium, to keep them healthy and happy. Most, but not all, insects are eaten by chickens. Variety is the key to a healthy chicken diet.
What Can a Chicken Eat That Isn’t Farm-Raised?
There isn’t much that a free-range chicken won’t eat, including grasshoppers and crickets and flies and mealworms.
Neither will they eat bees or bitter insects such as box elder bugs or Asian ladybeetles. Eating something with a stinger or a foul odor is not a good idea either. Two caveats apply to our chickens’ ability to keep the bug population under control:
- Some bugs, such as gnats and black flies,
- like to nest in chicken feathers at nighttime, which attracts cockroaches.
Mesh netting can keep nesting flies out of your home, just like you use on your windows. You can put it anywhere in your coop with a vent opening.
A little white pebble, diatomaceous earth, can also be added to your coop to pierce the exoskeleton of insects and destroy them.
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Your chicken coop and run should be clean to deter the poo-loving variety. Your coop should be far enough from your house so that any bugs drawn to the coop do not enter your house.
What are your options for disposing of the excrement? Composting chicken waste with soil and worms is a popular option. Composting earthworms is your hens’ favorite food, so keep your compost bin out of their reach. If they can get their hands on them, they’ll consume them all.
In nature, chickens would not overeat earthworms, but if you’re farming worms for your hens, you need to be careful not to overfeed them. Chickens need a wide variety of foods in their diets.
A chicken must eat some grit or gravel to survive for some strange reason. In their gizzard, the gritty dirt will aid in the digestion of food. In the absence of teeth, who needs them?
There is no need to buy grit for your chickens if your run is already gravelly or rocky, but if it is, you can find it at any feed store or Walmart in some areas.
Vegetation is also a part of the diet of a free-range chicken. You’ll want to keep your garden safe and direct your chickens to the plants they can eat.
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Chicken Snacks Made from Kitchen Scraps.
When it comes to reducing food waste in the kitchen, keeping a flock of hens nearby is sometimes recommended. Exactly. Chickens can eat banana peels, apples, and eggshells broken in the kitchen for added calcium.
Crush the eggshells to the point that they cannot be identified. You can teach your hens to eat their eggs if you’re lazy and offer them shells that look like eggshells. That’s a no-no.
If you don’t supplement their calcium intake, your chickens may begin to lay rubbery eggs. That’s something that no one desires, either.
Certain foods, such as apple cores with seeds and citrus, should not be served to your chickens. Chickens should avoid eating onions and potatoes, which belong to the nightshade family.
Grit.com says most root vegetables, including sweet potatoes, are safe to eat. It’s even possible to grow plants that will eat the grated food in your garden. Grated carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, and sweet potatoes are their favorite foods if you want to treat them while providing them with a nutritional meal.
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What If You Could Have A Worm Farm On Your Farm?
Raising mealworms from the darkling beetle is an option if you like to do things naturally and want to provide your chickens with high-protein snacks that nature has provided.
Both dead and alive are available for purchase from a commercial source, so you can start your worm farm at home.
Mealworm keeping isn’t a full-time job, but it does require a lot of time and effort. It is essential to keep an eye on and feed your worms as they progress through their various life phases.
There are four phases in the life cycle of a mealworm, also known as a darkling beetle.
Oatmeal is their primary source of nutrition, although they’ll also eat grass and decomposing food if necessary. They don’t seem to care as much. For a different option, you might also raise the larvae of the black soldier fly.
Growing your chicken feed worms can be as simple as following The Happy Chicken Coop’s website instructions.
Manure, an available resource, is even being used in tests to grow some sorts of worms. See the video for more information. Chicken feed is made from a manure fed to worms
Eating in a Poopy Place?
A few things to keep in mind while feeding chickens on the ground rather than in a feeder off the ground are the sanitation concerns. Salmonella and other microorganisms can thrive in regions covered with dust and feces.
They naturally eat garden debris from the ground, but they don’t do so in a spot where their feces reside. Only in confinement is it essential, and it can be dangerous.
To avoid pecking, keep feed and scraps in a feeding container or off the ground as much as possible. Also, keep the coop and run free of chicken poop.
The Morning Chores blog informed me that chickens could help manage parasites like sheep worms and fly larvae if maintained in the same area as sheep. When the sheep are in the same pen as a huge animal, it may prevent some predators.
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The World’s Chickens
Astonishingly, chickens can eat from a wide variety of sources. For an added protein boost, some individuals give their chickens scrambled eggs or dishes of milk.
I’m willing to wager that if you traveled from the chicken coop to the chicken coop around the world, you’d discover vastly diverse practices.
Mealworms from the larvae of the darkling beetle are a popular export from China. Commercial worm farms in the United States are more likely to generate black soldier fly larvae.
Although chickens can be found in the Netherlands, China, and America, one thing is constant among our wonderful feathered flocking friends, no matter where they are roosting.Bugs are a favorite food of chickens.