If looking after chickens is your passion or job, you need to learn as much as you can about them to ensure they live a long, happy, and healthy life. And apart from a regular source of freshwater, special coops, and nesting boxes, your birds will also require high-quality chicken feed.
However, buying feed from the store will end up costing you a lot, especially if you own a small chicken farm. Thus, you may think about switching to more affordable brands but this isn’t always the best solution as you could end up providing lower-quality recipes.
Often enough, store-based recipes won’t contain the right amount of high-quality ingredients that your hens need to grow strong and healthy.
One way to avoid this is to know exactly what your chickens are having, so why not try your own homemade mix? Here is everything you need to know about them and how to make them yourself.
Homemade organic recipes
Chickens don’t have high demands when it comes to their diets and they will pretty much eat anything, meaning the expenses will be minimum. They eat a lot of bugs, mice, grass, and forage, as well as veggies and fruits. Even your table scraps will look delicious and will probably contribute to a balanced, nutritious, and delicious diet.
However, if you want to raise healthy free range chickens and enjoy healthy poultry meat and eggs yourself, you need to make sure your birds are fed fresh, natural, and organic ingredients.
No matter your choice of ingredients, you should stay away from soy and fish meal. Soy contains a high amount of estrogen that might be of concern for most people, while fish can contain traces of mercury and could be dangerous both for you and your hens. However, seafood and oyster shells are recommended as they are rich in calcium.
What is a good mix recipe?
If you want to make sure your chickens enjoy a variety of ingredients and receive all necessary vitamins and minerals, you can use the following recipe as a starter mix: two parts of whole corn, three parts of hard red wheat and soft white wheat, half a part of DE (diatomaceous earth), hulled barley, sunflower seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, lentils, split peas, and quinoa.
It is important that each of these ingredients is organically sourced to avoid any chemicals getting in contact with the crops. Moreover, you shouldn’t feed your chickens only corn as it is rich in empty calories and only provides a part of the necessary nutrients your birds require.
Keep in mind that some of the ingredients such as the quinoa or the peanuts are mainly found in health food stores and may cost a bit more, while other ingredients can be found in local feed stores only.
What mix is best for your chicken breed?
There isn’t a universal mix for chickens as different breeds have slightly different dietary requirements. For instance, laying breeds will need alfalfa, fish meal, and cod liver oil in different ratios than broiler breeds.
Broiler breeds also require high protein food at the beginning of their lives, so their diet should also include fishmeal and amino acids. Bone meal is rich in calcium and is mandatory for most breeds if you want to ensure strong bones.
The diet is also different based on the climate and environment your hens live in, as well as the local crops. In order to make sure your hens receive all necessary nutrients, you can check special websites and professional bird forums where you’ll find various recipes based on your hens’ needs.
How to mix the ingredients?
After finding the right recipe for your birds, all you need to do is combine all the ingredients together and mix them by hand. You can also run your hands through it before feeding it to your chickens to make sure they receive all the ingredients and that nothing is settled. Chickens love variety so throw in as many ingredients as you can without exceeding the limits.
Bear in mind that overfeeding is a problem with all animals, including these birds, even if you raise them for their meat. It goes without saying that you should only use non-GMO and pest-free crops as everything your hens are eating will eventually end up in your system as well.
Daily feed requirements
Each growth stage and chicken breed comes with its own feeding requirements if you want to avoid overweight problems.
For instance, an egg-laying chicken requires around 4.5 ounces of food daily, while a regular adult chicken needs about half. After finishing their daily food ratios, you can keep on feeding your hens fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamins.
Broiler chicks need around 2.35 ounces of food, while young chickens or pullets should be fed 2.1 ounces daily in the first two months.
Keeping your mix fresh
Another thing you should consider is the freshness of the mix. The good thing about making homemade recipes of chicken feed is that you can control all the ingredients and everything that goes inside it. However, you should avoid the tendency of making too much food at once only to save time.
Unless you have special storage units or barns to keep your ingredients fresh for a longer time, you should refrain from making mixes that will last more than a week. The whole idea of feeding your own mix is to control the freshness of the ingredients and retain all the nutrients from each of it.
We also suggest to watch out for the amount of salt you use in your mix. Additives, preservatives or synthetic flavors must be avoided at all costs as they are harmful in the long term.
Keep the feed away from direct sunlight, freezing temperatures, rain or high-humidity environments. It should only be stored in cool and dry places to preserve all its qualities and nutrients. In addition, make sure the place is parasite-free so that you won’t end up contaminating your mix with ticks, bugs, mites or other insects.