The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Poultry & Waterfowl => Topic started by: sellickbhoy on January 15, 2009, 01:50:56 pm

Title: growing my own chicken food
Post by: sellickbhoy on January 15, 2009, 01:50:56 pm
Hi All

i've not got any chickens yet, but the seeds are planted (in my mind, i know you don't plant chickens!!)and i'm hoping to get some this year - more for the pot than for eggs, but we'll see how it goes

I was thinking of ways to try keep the costs down - so was planning to plant a couple of raised beds specifically for food that the chickens will eat

I've heard they love comfrey, and i was gonna do some lettuce and maybe sweetcorn (well, the corn is to fatten them up for the table!!!!)

any other suggestions of what would be good to keep them fed??

TIA
SB
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: rustyme on January 15, 2009, 02:13:08 pm
hello SB,
            apart from any veggie waste from the kitchen, as well as that grown specifically for them ,  you could also grow some wheat, barley etc. It depends on how much room you have spare . But once sown , wheat , barley , oats , are not really any trouble and will each produce about 1lb of seed per square yard. As with anything that you grow , this figure can go up a bit or down to nothing ...lol...it is just  luck to a certain extent . It is very easy to work out how much grain you need though , and on the plus side , you can use some wheat for your own bread etc, barley for making your own beer, and oats for your own porridge. The surplus going , plus any waste, to the chickens. Comfrey is very good for any animal as it has a high protien content and many vitamins and minerals. You could also grow a patch of lucerne/alfalfa, which you can crop like comfrey 4-5 times  a year.  Really the only limit on what you can grow is time and space. Good luck with what ever you grow, and with the chickens.
 
cheers

Russ
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: sellickbhoy on January 15, 2009, 04:36:38 pm
you know, i hadn't even thought about wheat, oats or Barley - the farmer next door grows lots of this for feed for his dairy  :cow:  :cow:  :cow:'s- so, that's sorted then, i'll away and trade him a bag of something for some of the above!!!

also, they are gonna be living on what was once a lawn - i know grass is a good substrate for them to wander about on - but do they eat the grass - likes cows, sheep, rabbits - or is it just a nice, easy on the feet carpet for them?


Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: rustyme on January 15, 2009, 04:54:50 pm
yes they do eat gras, If they are to be kept in a run , try to make it a movable one . That way they can mow your lawn . If free range they will eat it anyway , but it won't be all neat and tidy like the lawn mower leaves it . The straw from any wheat , barley etc can be used as bedding for the chickens too. You see where this is leading ? to a circle of growing , feeding, composting, manuring , then back to the start .....It can all be done for almost nothing , depends on how frugal you want to be really . 

cheers

Russ

ps: Barley is a heating food. If used on it's own could tend to fatten your chickens and make them go broody ( thats what I was told years ago anyway !!) , I know I would always up the barley content if I wanted  chickens to go broody . It always seemed to work well. I also use boiled barley as a weight putter onner for horses. They only have to look at it , and they put weight on !!!. A good mix of any grain you grow would be the best way to go .
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: Rosemary on January 15, 2009, 07:19:19 pm
Yes they do love comfrey and enjoy pecking away in the comfrey bed. I'm not sure if it woudl be a staple though. What about sunflowers - at least as a supplement. Just cut and hang up with the heads down and the hens will peck away at the seeds.
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: northfifeduckling on January 21, 2009, 12:04:59 pm
I'd never grow comfrey where you want to grow veggies or anything else in the future! Ours took over completely and the roots are impossible to get rid of! I only grow it near the compost now, where it can be made on the spot into liquid veggie feed. I'll see if my ducks like it too, it never occurred to me to try that!
Let us know how you are getting on with it all!
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: rustyme on January 21, 2009, 12:20:19 pm
most animals prefer comfrey wilted rather than really fresh . My horses wouldn't touch it at first when I cut it but would leave it for a few hours . Now they will eat it the instant I cut it . Chickens and ducks may also prefer it wilted too.  The roots are very hard to get rid of , as even a very small bit left in the ground , will grow into a full plant. The best way to get rid of it if need be , would be to dig out the main part of the roots and then let pigs do the rest . They really go for it and do a very good job of clearing all of it out.



cheers

Russ
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: northfifeduckling on January 21, 2009, 12:30:34 pm
or you could give it to a local herbalist, they use it for ointments apparently (moving a bit far off the topic, sorry), if you don't have pigs (yet)! Our roots are so big that I wondered if we could try it as a vegetable...
Title: Re: growing my own chicken food
Post by: Rosemary on January 21, 2009, 07:14:27 pm
Depends on the variety. We have one called Bocking 14 and it doesn't spread at all. Grows like stink though - and the bees LOVE the flowers, so we always let some come into flower.