Our small backyard chicken flock’s feed consists mostly of our scraps (we are a four-person household and have three chickens).
We eat a very varied diet, and therefore so do our chickens. I’ve learned from Justin Rhodes of abundant permaculture that chickens eat EVERYTHING! Eggs, veggies, mice, meat, milk, grain, peals and so on, so at the end of the day, we usually have a big serving of food for them.
But there are a few days that we don’t have many scraps, or if we go away, or for any other reason the birds need added feed, I like to have a big bucket of chicken food.
Where we live we have access to one brand of chicken feed. Conventional, GMO corn and soy, some wheat and a few added ingredients, such as growth hormones.
I was buying that for a while, but I decided I wanted out. No GMO and no soy, period. So I looked up a few recipes and decided to go for it. I settled on a mix of buckwheat, red lentils, peas, wheat and barley. But peanut meal, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, rice, are all viable options.
See what you have available and what works for you. I buy big 1.4k bags and mix them up in a bucket. It’s pretty cool to see ‘chicken food’ on your shopping list for the supermarket…
Here is my 20 month-year-old son emptying the lentils into the bucket.
And here we are mixing it.
In order to make this food even more nourishing, I ferment it. I put it in a glass jar and cover it with water. I let it sit for three days with 2 inches of water over the grains.
The grains expand A LOT, so I wait her put a really small amount to start with or I divide it up once the feed soaked. That way our birds are eating the same food but the nutrients are more available so they don’t have to eat as much of it.
This fermenting also works well with chicks or ducklings, since the feed is softer and they can break it up.