Chickens are rarely raised as pets but more as meat animals, so you need to pay close attention to what you are feeding them if you want to become the final link of the food chain and benefit from a slice of healthy meat afterward.
Make sure to check our recent post to find out more about the lifestyle of chickens, what they can eat, where they should live, and even come up with your own great chicken coop ideas to build them a fancy new home.
What do chickens eat?
These adorable creatures with colorful feathers aren’t too demanding when it comes to their diet but you’ll still have to pay close attention to certain foods to make sure they receive all necessary nutrients to grow strong and healthy.
If you’ve just started informing yourself on the Internet, chances are you are going to encounter contradictory facts about what you should and shouldn’t feed your chicken. Some chicken breeders agree to certain foods, while others prefer other ingredients, more or less healthy. As a general rule, chickens can eat pretty much what humans eat too, with some restrictions.
They should be offered specific chicken feed and shouldn’t indulge in salty or sugary foods too often. Here is what is considered safe to feed your beloved birds.
High-quality poultry pellets
Your chickens’ diet should mainly consist of organic, quality pellets that provide the perfect amount of proteins to ensure healthy growth. Most often, these pellets usually include maize, wheat, oats, and sunflower seeds.
A diet based on pellets is extremely important especially if your chickens don’t have too much free space to wander around your property and get the rest of the needed minerals and salt from the ground.
Corn and wheat can also be fed but only in limited amounts as they are rich in carbs and might cause overeating and obesity in time. This isn’t necessarily a good thing if you consider consuming the chicken as you won’t get more meat out of it but simply more fat.
One of the best reasons for raising chicken is that you can feed them most of your kitchen waste! Therefore, these birds are friendly with your budget and also help you produce less waste.
Obviously, you should stay away from salty foods, sweets, chocolate, processed foods or anything with too much fat in it. Table scraps can include wholesome foods such as oat, rice, pasta, and even wholemeal bread. We suggest you opt for organic and local-based ingredients whenever possible, especially if you plan on consuming chicken meat yourself.
There are various reliable online resources you can consult for more information about the exact foods that fall into the table scraps category you can feed your chicken. You can also ask your vet if you have any other questions or concerns.
Fruits and veggies
Your birds’ diet wouldn’t be complete without special treats like fresh fruits and veggies. These not only taste delicious but also provide necessary vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants that boost the immune system of your chickens and help them stay healthy.
Vegetables and fruits can be offered daily as long as they are mixed with poultry pellets and other basic ingredients. Your chickens will love carrots, broccoli, vegetable peels, apple cores, and bananas. Yes, these birds eat bananas and they enjoy their sweet taste!
On the other hand, acidic fruits like lemons and oranges shouldn’t make it into your chickens’ meal. The same goes for raw green peels, including green potato peels.
How often should you feed your chickens?
When it comes to feeding habits, each bird breeder and specialist may have his or her own thoughts. Some prefer building special feeders and letting chickens eat as much as they need, while others are more strict and feed the birds twice a day.
We advocate for a predetermined feeding schedule and smaller portions of food offered twice a day instead of one large meal or unlimited food.
Pellets should be fed twice a day – in the morning and in the evening while watching out for the portion size. Based on your chicks’ age, weight or breed, you should offer approximately ¼ pounds of pellets daily after the age of 10 weeks or when your chickens begin producing.
You can supplement pellets with a few daily treats that are low in calories. We don’t recommend offering too many table scraps if your chickens have enough food from pellets.
However, a diversified diet is always better and won’t determine your birds to get bored with it, so you may consider replacing the evening pellet meal with table scraps and other goodies every now and then.
What exactly does “a healthy treat” mean?
If you want to show your chicks appreciation and make them feel spoilt, you can introduce them to certain healthy treats and snacks once in a while. These include but aren’t limited to pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, worms, porridge, and apple cores.
Again, fresh bananas may also be a bit hit amongst your birds. However, it would be best to stay away from banana chips unless you dried the pieces yourself as most producers use high amounts of sugar to make them.
What you shouldn’t feed your chick
Although chickens can pretty much eat anything you do, this doesn’t mean all foods are healthy for them. Chickens don’t necessarily eat meat but they do well with seafood as it contains important omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that boost their health. Crushed fish bones also represent an important source of calcium and should be fed regularly.
Garlic, sweets, avocados, rhubarb, and processed or crisp foods are dangerous and potentially lethal to your flock, so avoid them completely.
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