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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeding Chickens

Rocky the rooster and some of his girls
  1. We feed our chickens Barley, Oats, Sorghum (Milo), Wheat, Corn and Black Sunflower seeds. Black Sunflowers are the husk as well as the kernel still intact. All these grains are fed whole, never cracked. Cracked grains will oxidise quickly and go rancid. They should be used immediately. Wherever possible we soak the grain overnight in Whey from our cheese making and allow it to sprout just a little. This increase the bio availability of nutrients.

  1. The mix is different every day so that they get variety, also there is an overall difference in the mix between seasons i.e. in cool weather, they eat more grain and particularly like warming grains like Corn. In Winter they receive more Corn and Black Sunflower seeds. In warm seasons, they eat less grain overall and we feed out less of the warming and oil rich grains.

Grain Mix
  1. Whatever the season, and at each feeding, we emphasise grains that are lower in Omega 6 oils e.g. Corn and Black Sunflower are high in Omega 6 oils.

  1. By mixing the other grains which are low in Omega 6 oils, they get a variety of nutrients and less Omega 6. The problem with too many Omega 6's is that they are pro inflammatory in the body. This is a good and natural process, but the traditional Western diet includes too many of these polyunsaturated oils/fats already. We tend to have the ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 out of balance.

Grains stored separately
  1. The majority of their food is green grass and all that is above, in and below the grass e.g. insects, gravel and other seeds and plants.

  1. This provides an array of vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and minerals plus is an excellent source of the very important Omega 3 oils/fats.

  1. The chickens are not fed until very late in the afternoon so their crops are full and they can digest this overnight.

  1. Oyster shell grit is available at all times to help provide some Calcium and other minerals.

Oyster Shell Grit
  1. We keep heritage breeds as opposed to the new hybrids. Hybrids, such as ISA Browns, HyLines and so on, may be the elite athletes of the egg laying world, but to do so they require a high protein diet which really necessitates processed layer pellets. In addition, as a consequence of this breeding for lots of large eggs, they burn out earlier. They are purely designed for egg production and are small with little flesh covering making them difficult to use as a dual purpose bird.

Dedicated (recycled) Feed Shed
  1. The older purebreds may not lay as many eggs per year, though they come pretty close, but they continue to lay for more years and if kept active and healthy, tend to have less problems with laying.

  1. A lot of these pure breeds can be dual purpose and so, if inclined, you can eat the roosters or even the older hens. We allow all our hens to retire and stay on as a reward for their many years of egg laying and entertainment. 

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