Homegrown Chicken Nutrition: What to Feed Your Poultry


chickens pecking at some feedReprinted with permission from the Organic Broadcaster newspaper, published by the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). 

As a poultry nutrition specialist, Jeff Mattocks talks to a lot of farmers about how to best meet the nutritional needs of their birds. “When I talk to people, I first have to determine if they are raising birds for personal use, or if they are trying to make money; if they are raising Cornish Cross, or some other species.” Their answers, Jeff said, dictates the advice he gives. 

Poultry will eat many different things, and live. But, to grow efficiently and be cost-effective for egg or meat production, very specific nutritional needs must be met. Cornish Cross industry birds have been bred to thrive on very specific diets, and will not fare well with non-standard feeds. “Heirloom birds have stronger immune systems, and carry different bacteria in their digestive tracts,” Jeff claimed. “They are more tolerant of diversity in their diets.” 

A good place to start in understanding the nutritional needs of poultry is Feeding Poultry on Pasture, a book Jeff produced in 2013. Available from MOSES, this 100-page reference contains a wealth of information on feed ingredients and rations, including comprehensive charts on the nutritional needs of various types of poultry. It also has charts with the nutritional analysis of numerous grains and feed ingredients. 

There are several things poultry producers can do to enhance or supplement a traditional poultry ration, Jeff said. He shared the following tips in a workshop, “Grind and Grow Your Own Poultry Feed,” at the 2014 MOSES Conference. 

Grow Your Own

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