January 13, 2010

Chicken Feed

The cost of buying feed for chickens through the winter is getting to be outrageous, not to mention how far the feed comes from the farm. I have been having a lovely e-conversation with Beth Wooten. Please join us with any further discussion or tips on homegrown poultry feed, it would be greatly appreciated.

Hi -
I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the country. I work full time but when I was home recovering from a back injury I made a feed mix which my chickens loved but it was too much work, getting grains that were trucked in (not how I want to do things) and grinding them... Currently I feed them Purnia Layena which seems to be about the best commerical feed. I also grow watercress in the back stream and pull that through cold weather until it runs out. In the summer I give them comfrey. I have to keep them under wire in long runs due to hawk problems so I provide them greens when I can. They love chick weed of course. In the summer I have Japanese beetle traps which have a zipper in the bottom. After crushing the beetles I dump them in their yard. I did some reading online about raising insects to feed them. I discovered some third world country projects doing that but in warmer climates.
I can't remember the blog I found your post on. I was searching for information about growing amarath for chicken feed. I also had ducks and geese.

Ruralrose said:

I pull the amaranth plants by the roots and hang them to dry. I feed them usually in February when they are desperate for real food. They do pick the seeds off the stems, I think it gives them something more interesting to do than watch the snow fall. This works for pigsweed too. They do love weed seeds, in my head i am working on a device that would allow me to collect seeds from grass and weeds all summer. They seem to relish dandelion seed. It is hard to get a good feed mix they will eat year round. I use my mix in the winter when they can't be fussy. For the most protein it is best to grow sunflowers for the winter. I have not tried others grains. I do add apple cider vinegar, molasses and kelp to my winter feed. I also collect rose hips and berries for winter feed. I also put down a layer of mung bean and alfalfa seeds before a good snow. It makes for yummy sprouts in the spring. I am considering covering a corner of the yard with plastic before the snow too, to try and get a head start of food for them in the spring. If you come up with another idea please let me know.


  1. I so want to grow my own feed ! Well for the poultry any way.I bought several small selections of different grains to try,it is sometimes difficult to find things to grow here!Amaranth is one of the ones I got and sunflowers which I know will grow if I can keep the coons from eating them all!

    This is a difficult area to homestead in,uncooperative and harsh weather make it a challenge.We have to live where Hubby's job is.Retirement is probably 15 years away!I am hoping for the mountains, any nice tree covered sparsely populated mountains..sigh!

  2. I would like to hear what people are doing in zones 4 and colder. We had some ideas sf using a scythe to harvest the peas and oats cover crop or buckwheat and feed 'dried on the stem' but it is all theoretical-for next winter. Thanks for the discussion Ruth!

  3. The whole chicken feed issue is one that we have been working towards become more self-sufficient in as well. I worry that without our own alternative sources for for feed we could have serious issues in the future as our feed prices have also been steadily increasing.

    By the way, I stopped by Amazon this morning.:)

  4. i use organic pellets. that's the best I can do........
    love the turkeys.....looks like Boris x 2

    are they named?

  5. oh and thank you for your card...it came THIS MORNING!!!

  6. I don't begrudge the chickens the best basic food I can buy them. Purina Layena keeps them healthy and producing. In the summer they gets lots of extra stuff and less Layena. Sometimes one of the nearby farms grows safflower and I pick up some sacks of that very cheap. I give them lawn clippings, old pumpkins, broken watermelons from the local fruit stand. When they're molting I buy game bird mix, which has whole grains, calf manna and fish oil pellets. They need more nourishment when they're growing new feathers. An alternative to that is a sack of cheap cat food as a supplement.

    In the winter, though, they need more energy than they can get from greens. If I was on a budget, I'd buy commercial feed in the winter and do other things in the summer.

    Any time of the year, a few flakes of alfalfa hay will keep them busy and full.

    I mostly cut down on the feed bill, though, by not keeping more hens than I need and by keeping Anconas rather than the bigger Rocks and RI Reds. The Anconas are better producers and don't eat as much. They're hardier than some of the other Mediterranean egg-laying breeds, though.