Feeding chickens is probably one of the most rewarding and fun aspects of keeping hens. M usually feeds the chickens in the morning before he goes to work and he normally gives them layer pellets.
VEGETABLE PEELINGS AND SCRAPS
Later on in the day I scatter a variety of vegetable scraps and peelings in their path. I usually separate out the veggie scraps that I think will appeal to them. They like peas, carrot and potato peelings, apples etc. I don’t give them onions and I have noticed that they never go near the onions I have growing around the place.
Apart from that, feeding chickens is easy and I don’t think they are all that fussy because as soon as I head to the composter with my days vegetable waste they will follow me straight there. They always have a good old forage around and scoff themselves silly – no matter what it is I put there.
I have heard of people feeding chickens raw mince but I never give them meat, although I am pretty sure they would enjoy it – they seem to enjoy eating snails and worms and are never far away when I am digging the garden – they only have to see a shovel and they are beside me.
I do know my little flock of wayward chickens absolutely love kale as I made the mistake of forgetting to restrict their access to my vegetable garden and raised beds and they demolished the kale, eating it down to stumps in no time.
LITTLE GREEN EGGS
It was my own fault, you see I had managed to grow more kale than we could eat and so I had been sharing my kale with the hens on a daily basis. They would see me coming up to the fence with a big bunch of the green stuff and go ballistic – the hens had come to love the stuff so much I’m surprised we didn’t have little green eggs.
The other thing they absolutely love is sweetcorn and I use this as a treat. When I need to coax them to move somewhere when I use it as a tasty trail for them to follow wherever I want them to go.
I use cheap frozen sweetcorn, cook it and let it cool before sitting myself down on a bench and scattering it around. I love doing this, watching them run for the corn is great craic and the competition between them for these precious yellow kernels is fierce.
In fact they can be quite ferocious with each other and you certainly would not want to come between a hen and her sweet corn, nor a duck and her sweetcorn for that matter – the ducks love it just as much as the hens do.
The food they seem to enjoy the most is porridge. I used to buy cheap porridge from Lidl and Aldi for the hens but then I found out that you could get rolled oats in our local providers for 10 euro for 40 kg – now that’s one big bulky sack and a whole lot of porridge – so you do need somewhere to store it – safe from mice and other grain-robbers.
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN PORRIDGE
Like all my favourite recipes this one is easy. All I do is
1. Add water to the oats.
2. Bring them to the boil in a large pan.
3. Simmer it for about ten minutes.
4. Allow to cool a little but serve it when still warm.
If you have barley or other grain you can add that. The thing the hens seem to like most about porridge is the fact that it is hot, even the ducks will pounce on it and eat their fill.
Last winter my hens stopped laying for a while. I was barely getting one or two eggs from the entire flock of eight. After I began feeding them this porridge a few times a week they began to lay again and we once more enjoyed a lovely fresh boiled egg with our morning toast.
If you are considering keeping chickens I’d say go for it – feeding chickens is easy and they will reward you with the most beautiful and freshest eggs you will ever eat and as I said above they really are entertaining to watch.
In the meantime best of luck with your gardening and chickens.
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