salad for chickens, not chicken salad
For the past few days, the chickies have been snacking on some fresh, organic, local baby lettuces from a friend (thanks J!)
The greens were a little wilted for our friend, but once we refreshed the leaves with a little rinse and spin, our girls thought they were a tasty treat! And why wouldn’t they, when the farm that grew the lettuce supplies some of the best restaurants in town?
We always like to joke that our chickens eat better than most folks- since almost everything they eat is organic, and sometimes local to boot.
Here’s what they eat:
organic layer pellets – This is their primary source of food. (Layer pellets are formulated for chickens who lay eggs- there is a higher percentage of calcium in the food, to help them produce eggs with nice, strong shells. You can’t feed the same food to baby chickens, or chickens that are not yet laying- since their bodies don’t rid themselves of calcium by making eggshells, the calcium buildup in their bodies can cause liver damage. You can actually mix up your own chicken feed from a variety of grains and other food sources, but with the way our chickens like to “pick and choose” what they eat, they’d probably just eat what tastes the best, and not everything they need!)
grass + bugs – Whatever they forage when we let them free range around the yard in the afternoons and on the weekends. Grass and other wild green plants (uh, weeds…) give them lots of Omega3 fatty acids, and bugs give them protein and calcium.
organic yogurt – A few times a week they get a couple of spoonfuls. We give it to them both for additional calcium and for probiotics (just as important for chickens as humans)- but they also love the taste! They lap it up and Sweetie often ends up with it all over her comb and wattle…We just give them the same stuff we eat- its easier than buying a separate container for them, since we don’t eat that much of it.
scratch – a mixture of seeds and grains such as millet, corn, quinoa, etc… (It’s their morning treat- we scatter a handful around in their run, when we let them out in the morning- picture Laura Ingalls feeding the chickens – I like to pretend that I’m wearing a long calico dress + bonnet). Its especially good for them in the wintertime, because all of the cracked corn in the mix provides additional fat to help them keep warm.
organic rolled oats – We mix a couple handfuls in with their scratch in the summertime- its supposed to promote healthy egg laying, and also cut back on the amount of fat that scratch provides.
grapes – Their favorite treat- generally only provided on the weekends- whenever B. and I have snack time, the girls have snack time too! You should see how high they’ll jump for grapes!
garden produce – You can’t get any more local and organic than the stuff right out of our garden! Sometimes its lettuce – they love frisee and escarole…These days, its tomatoes from the garden- we have a bunch of cherry tomatoes, and I can’t resist Spotty-Dotty’s begging- she stands outside the garden when I’m harvesting, and makes a high-pitched kind of whine- so I end up tossing her a tomato, and then next thing you know, everyone wants one!
Of course, if you ask the chickens, they don’t get nearly enough treats, so they like to supplement on their own by sneaking into the garden! We still blame Tweetie for the fact that we didn’t eat any yellow tomatoes last summer..