Making your own feed is a great way to save money and give your chickens a nutritious diet that you can feel good about. But, before you get started, there are a few things you should consider first.
Your Chickens’ Diet Needs to Be Well Balanced
Having a complete diet for your hens is the most important factor in raising healthy chickens. They need to be eating the correct amounts of protein, calcium and minerals in a form that is easy for them to digest.
Commercial poultry feeds contain a mixture of grains, pellets and a variety of other ingredients to make a nutrient-packed blend that meets the needs of your chickens. If you’re unsure of how to mix your own chicken feed, it’s a good idea to contact a local feed mill who can help you create a feed based on the nutritional needs of your flock.
Grit and Oyster Shells
Chickens need grit in their diet because it helps them break down food that they can’t digest. This can be either soluble grit, like limestone or small chips or ground flour in commercial poultry feeds, or crushed oyster or mussel shells.
Soluble grit should be fed separately to your hens, as they won’t eat it when mixed with their main diet. You can also add a layer of eggshells to your grit to increase the calcium levels in the feed.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Many green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of calcium for your chickens. You can use fresh spinach, swiss chard, kale and cabbage leaves in your homemade chicken feed as well as dried kelp.
Treats and Snacks
There are lots of tasty treats that can be given to your hens, including dried mealworms, acorns, corn and sunflower seeds. These treats are a great way to satisfy their hunger cravings and keep them happy. But remember to limit these treats to no more than 2 tablespoons per bird per day.
A high-quality layer feed is best for your hens to ensure they have the nutrition they need to stay healthy and lay eggs with strong shells. These types of feeds have a calcium supplement that will help them develop their eggshells and will also provide them with the vitamins and minerals they need to grow properly.
Minerals are essential for the health of your chickens as they support their immune system, muscle function and metabolism. They are divided into macrominerals, which include calcium and magnesium, and microminerals, which include iron, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium and zinc.
You can buy commercial calcium supplements or you can make your own by grinding up oyster shells and crushed eggshells to add calcium to their food. The calcium in the shells will be absorbed more easily into their bodies, so they need less.
The right amount of calcium is vital for a hen’s egg-laying process, as it allows the shell to be hard enough to keep the eggs intact while they’re being laid. To make your own DIY grit, grind up an oyster shell or two and mix it with a small amount of crushed eggshells.