Taking care of your Chickens:
Feeding chickens is almost as easy as watering them. In nature chickens are the garbage cleaners of the south east Asian jungle. For everyday food you can feed your chickens either chicken food (found at feed stores) or pig food. In Alberta the UFA Hog Grower is the same as the chick starter except the pellets are bigger, and the hog grower contains less antibiotics. If you have access to grain then you can feed that to them. Whenever you make food with lots of scraps (peelings and bits of vegetables that humans shouldn't eat) then feed those to them. Chickens can be trained so well if they see a small bucket (for carrying chicken scraps) they get excited because a treat is coming. You can feed your chickens in a trough, appropriate sized container, or by scattering the food on the ground. You can even give your chickens bones with scraps of meat on them. There is very little that they won't eat.
Information Specific to Laying Hens
Laying hens require calcium for egg shells. During the laying season, put a pile or box of crushed clam shells in their pen. Crushed clam shells are available at most local feed/farm stores. If you scatter the clam shells too much, you won't know when the hens need more until you see paper-thin shells. Egg shells also work for the calcium, but you run the risk of the birds learning to eat their own eggs. To avoid this you should crush the shells so that they don't look like eggs.
If you have any questions about whether chickens should eat a particular food or not post your question on the Raising Chickens/Feeding discussion page.
|Common food that chickens shouldn't/won't eat|
|Orange peels||Too tough for chickens to chew on. Chickens will play with them if they are bored, though. The orange itself chickens will eat.|
|Watermelon rinds||Too thick/tough for chickens to chew on but they do love the actual fruit part.|
|Rye kernels||Chickens don't like them. Some chickens do enjoy Rye, just a little.|
|Chicken||Because they are chickens. Although chickens will happily eat chicken and other meat products. After butchering a chicken you can leave the skeleton in the the pen and they will pick the bones clean. If done on a large scale, making chicken feed from chickens (especially the brain and spinal cord) can lead to an outbreak of encephalopathy, similar to mad cow disease.|
|Carrots||Chickens can't eat large hard chunks but they will eat carrot peels.|
|Curry||They like it, but it has bad effects on their droppings.|
|Banana||Some chickens like bananas while other do not. It really depends on the breed. Disputed|
|Potato Peel||Chickens normally don't like very many root plants, so they will not usually eat potato peels but they do like leftover mashed potato.|
|Tomato||Not a problem in small quantities. In excess reduces the droppings.|
|Apple||It is fine to give one apple to four birds once every two weeks if given too regular it may give them a stomach upset. They absolutely love the peel too.|
|Baked beans||They just don't like them- also disputed|
|Grapes||Chickens really seem to love grapes - not mine! They didn´t notice nice white organic grapes for 2 days|
|Gooseberries||A similar reaction to that of grapes.|
|Rice||Chickens love rice|
|Pasta||Same with rice, they especially love spaghetti (reminds them of worms). Cut it down in size though.|
|Fish skin||They love fish and skin, has a lot of calcium for layers.|
|Mice||Dead or alive they will fight over them and chase them.|
|Ham||Chickens love ham|
Lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage leaves Feel free to add items that you have found chickens shouldn't or won't eat though just like people they are individuals and all have their own likes and dislikes so it cannot be justly said that they WILL or WILL NOT eat a certain food.
Cheese: My chickens go mad for cheese. It is very fatty however and should not be given in abundance.
And finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER feed chickens (or any other bird) avocado. Avocados (their peelings, the fruit itself, and the seeds) are POISONOUS TO BIRDS.