January 13, 2010
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.
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.
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.