Feeding Chickens Sustainably

| 2/5/2014 11:12:00 AM

Tags: raising chickens, chicken feed, Mary Lou Shaw, Ohio,

In olden days, wealthy people were the ones raising chickens while cows and goats belonged to the poor. Why? A ruminant animal could always be fed by tethering it in common ground while poultry required buying grain. Today, however, many people are feeding chickens  and other poultry in a sustainable way. Let’s look at how this can be done.

Free range chickens

Free-Range Advantages 

Chickens are omnivores, and they thrive when outdoors if their pasture has a great variety of plants in addition to insects and reptiles. Yes, chickens do eat snakes and frogs! The realities that make free-ranging poultry difficult are predators, winter weather and lack of outdoor space. Therefore, even if you are the rare individual who has plenty of land in which your chickens can roam, you will need to safe-guard them at night from predators. Additionally you will probably need to supplement their free-range food during coldest weather.

Commercial Chicken Food

Most people with poultry will buy at least some commercial food in pre-mixed, bagged form. Your first choice will be between crumbles, pellets and ground form. Except for baby chicks that use ground food, the crumbles are best to use because there is less waste and they stay fresher longer. I choose away from feeds that have antibiotics or animal products. The latter is used to boost protein, but can carry disease.

Your poultry can stay healthy with bagged food if you take a few other precautions. First, don’t buy the cheapest food. Cheap poultry food is more likely to contain non-nutritious fillers and poor quality grains. Although the mixture is required to label what category of ingredients are in it, it doesn’t say what “grain products” or “plant protein” are used. Cheap food results in unhealthy birds, and that’s not sustainable!

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