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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need a way to feed chickens cheaply. During the summer they can eat grass and bugs but what about winter? How do you guys keep chickens without spending a lot?
 

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If you have a garden grow a lot of squash/ pumpkins they grow easily with little attention and will store well in a cool place (like a shop or cellar) then in the fall/ winter cut them up and feed!
 

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I'm not addicted - I'm in love!
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If they have a large free range area with lots of insects and forage, you can supplement with just cracked corn. An old-timer told me that! :) He said it works in both winter and summer. I've tried it during summer at least - can't remember if I did it in winter - and it works well. Nice orange yolks too, from the corn!
 

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Just remember, if they don't get the amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals they need, they will not lay eggs. Eggs take a lot of energy to produce. So please take that into consideration for any diet you provide your girls.

During the spring and summer months, I only feed my girls in the evening. They get let out in the morning to free range, finding insects and other tidbits. In the evening they get their layer mash, which helps fill in any gaps. They lay plenty of eggs doing this.

In the winter, they get mostly layer mash, but I also give them a few handfuls of an oats/corn/sunflower seed mixture, which I toss on the snow for them to go find, which they do with gusto. I do NOT provide light during the winter to force them to lay. I still get eggs, just fewer.

Corn is deficient in both protein and important amino acids. A chicken fed just corn will not lay eggs, even if they are getting enough calories. They will not do well on such a diet.


If you want to try and find a really cheap source of food, ask your local supermarket if you can take the old fruit and vegetables they'd be throwing away. Some places will let you (if you take it all, no picking and choosing), others will not. My local store donates produce before it gets to the dumpster stage, so I can't do that here. But some places will let you have it. The chickens will be delighted if you toss the scrap veggies into a pot and cook it down a bit into a mushy, sloppy mess. Mine love it (I do it with produce about to go bad that I haven't used yet)!
 

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Corn is deficient in both protein and important amino acids. A chicken fed just corn will not lay eggs, even if they are getting enough calories. They will not do well on such a diet.
FTR, I wasn't saying they should eat just corn.
 

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Oh. All I meant was that you can supplement good free range with just corn. By "nice sized area" I meant a large area of free range. I'll edit that so it's more clear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I just realized I spelled raising wrong.

I was talking with a guy we just gave all our ducks too. He raises grasshoppers and noninvasive cockroaches as a good source of protein for his semi free ranged chickens.
 

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Really? We've given ours scraps but never considered milk.
If you hand milk, giving the chickens the 'hoof milk' is a great way to make use of it. My girl has occationally stepped in the milking pan, so I finish up, and pour it over some chicken feed. The chickens gobble it up as fast as they can swallow!
 

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Scraps from the table, old goat grain (or cattle grain), cellar veggies, milk, whey, sprouted grains from inside, compost pile worms, meal worms (great investment!!) fed alongside their layer mix really extends the feed.
 

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My local grocery store (small family owned) is fantastic and lets me take their old bread and produce - it is always too much for me to take so my friend and I take turns picking it up and always split what we get. My girls get mostly produce though I do have a self feeder full of laying mash in the coop (9 hens will go through a 5 gallon bucket every few weeks). The bigger grocery stores won't let go of their stuff though :(

I have also started giving my juvenile coop milk - particularly because their coop is fairly close to where I milk and I just started emptying the strip cups into a dish that just happened to be laying by the fence one day and they went nuts. Now they get milk every morning - I have 12 baby roosters in there and plan on putting them in the freezer - I think the milk is going to be key in getting them to slaughter weight without breaking the bank in feed.....

fwiw my rescued pot belly pig also loves the finds from the grocery store and the milk :) He gets spoiled and every few days he gets "cereal" when I put a few cups of fresh milk over his nightly grain ration :)
 

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If you mix fresh garlic with the milk for your butcher chickens, it not only helps keep them free of parasites, it will flavor the meat.
 

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Really? We've given ours scraps but never considered milk.
Usually a half gallon a day for 20 chickens. They love it! They also get left over lettuce, watermelon, spaghetti squash, scrambled duck eggs when we have too much, etc. :)
 

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Yep. Kitchen scraps (I include meat in mine as they will eat that and love it). Some grain...I do use corn in my mix. Leftover milk, cheese, whey from making cheese, etc. Mine won't free range if there is snow on the ground so those days they have to get some extra. We are getting a feed mix right now that is mainly ground corn and milo with a protein added in.
 

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Everything organic from the kitchen goes back out to the chickens, meat, leftovers, rotten whatever, they will eat all of it. If they are laying more eggs then you need, we also hard boil them and feed them back to the chickens too. But, unfortunately, you do usually need to feed them a bit more over winter, because it's winter, there isn't much free range available and it's cold, so they need to keep themselves warm too.
 
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