I'm hopefully going to get some hens, maybe today (4H fair). I've been getting eggs at the farmers' market and ask whoever's selling eggs what they're feeding their hens, been trying to go soy-free, corn-free and also just GMO free in general, I hate supporting that practice. The best I've found so far are wheat fed, free-ranged chickens, which is fine with me. On the other hand it's a pain to ask the vendors and then possibly reject their eggs. I always feel so emotional at the farmers' market! "Oh...your carrots are too expensive, I'll get them from the guy next to you instead..."
Anyway, I do love the farmers' market, but I figure I'll save myself some questions and use the chicken pen/house I have out back. I did a search on here but haven't seen recommendations for exactly what to feed chickens for best results. I did see someone recommend this place http://www.scratchandpeck.com/ and I would like to have some grain and scratch in addition to feeding scraps, etc... Chickens running free in my yard is not an option so much where I live. Southwest U.S. mountains filled with coyotes n such. I can do it a little.
If you do have suggestions, please be specific! What exactly do you do? Do you toss out kitchen scraps EVERY DAY or just once a week, etc...? I guess they can get insects that wander into the pen, but I don't know how much that would be. I'm looking to keep 4 birds just for eggs.
Yay for Scratch and Peck! That's what we feed our gals. It's a shame you can't let them roam in your yard, but a chicken tractor is the next best thing. That allows you to move their enclosure around the yard without leaving them exposed to predators. There are tons of plans online to build your own or you can usually find prebuilt ones on craigslist.
In addition to the Scratch and Peck feed, our hens get leftover fruit (watermelon rinds and blackberries are their absolute favorites), various veggie scraps, and all of the creepy crawlies they can catch in the yard. When I'm ready to turn my garden under in the fall, I open the gate and let the chickens to go town. They honestly don't need much supplemental feed in the summertime, but it comprises the bulk of their diet in the winter. You'll have to experiment a bit to see what your new hens like and how fast they go through their feed. They can be pretty particular. Two of our hens won't touch any vegetables, but the other two love them. If they aren't eating something that you throw them, just remove it and try again with something else later.
Crushed oyster shells are a must to keep the egg shells in good condition. We just set out a small dish of them and the chickens will take what they need.
Enjoy them! They're a lot of fun and incredibly useful.
I would before anything else get my hands on some of the Joel Salatin's books. For sure, it has great tips on this topic, specialy regarding feeding hens, pigles(as he sput it) cows and lamb. Try "You can farm", or "Pastured poultry profits": here
I'm not even from America and till can relate to that guy speech and attitude. real great guy!
I've heard a few times that feed is important but them getting access to bugs is very important too. It changes the quality of the macronutrients in their eggs. That us why "free range" is important not just that they eat non soy non corn etc.
We had a small mealworm farm at one point which the chickens just LOVED. (I speak of it in past-tense because we kinda forgot to take care of the worms after they changed into beetles, but the chickens ate the dead bugs anyway, lol).
Ours will eat anything I throw in there excepting meat. Corn on the cob, leftover veggies from dinner, whatever.
We feed ours Layena Plus Omega-3 by Purina, as well as offer a separate oyster shell feeder for them to peck at will. Most chicken feeds have calcium & other essential minerals in the feed, so you want to keep the added shell separate. Birds know what their bodies need, it's best not to force it on them so they don't get calcium deposits or constipation. So far, six out of our eight Delaware hens are laying every day, nice firm-shelled large brown eggs.
Hack my potential source of eggs 4 Answers