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How To Feed Chickens or Laying Hens

2016-05-17

You're just getting started keeping chickens or other poultry on your small farm and wondering: how do I feed my chickens? Can I let them eat bugs, worms and seeds? Can I mix my own feed? Can they eat all my kitchen scraps? What's chick starter and when do I switch to layer pellets? Why would I feed mash?

Let's start with what chickens and poultry eat when they're on pasture--outside, in a field, with grass and weeds to roam on and eat.

What poultry and chickens typically eat

This differs a little if we're talking about turkeys, geese or other poultry, but the basics are the same: poultry like to eat growing grasses, like clover, buckwheat and Kentucky bluegrass. They eat broadleaved weeds of all kinds. They eat the growing tips as well as the seeds of these plants.

Chickens also eat earthworms, insects, and slugs of all kinds. Finally, they need to eat a little grit - sand and/or coarse dirt - to keep it in their gizzards to help them grind up the wild foods they forage.