Do you feed your chooks scraps?
Poor laying, strange eggs, sick chickens. So often, the problems we see in backyard chickens are caused by diet.
Chickens love scraps. And chicken keepers love seeing the joy scraps give to their chickens, not to mention the satisfaction of converting kitchen waste into eggs!
But scraps can be bad for chickens. Even in moderation, feeding scraps can impact the health and performance of laying hens.
At Dine a Chook, we have been trying to come up with a way for backyard chickens (and their keepers) to have their cake and eat it too. So what is the secret to making scraps healthy for chickens?
Why are scraps bad for chickens?
The problem is, most scraps - even seemingly healthy veggies - are like ice cream to chickens. And their feed is like boring bran cereal. It is obvious which is healthier, and which your chickens would prefer to eat. But when chickens fill up on scraps, they eat less feed, and this is where the problems start.
Modern chicken feed is carefully balanced to include all of the nutrients that chickens need to thrive. This includes the right ratio of protein to fibre, and a wide range of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
When chickens choose scraps over their feed, suddenly these ratios are all wrong. Most scraps are low in protein and high in fibre. They don't always have a lot of vitamins or minerals, either.
So chickens that eat scraps aren’t getting enough protein and are probably missing out on key vitamins and minerals too. This impacts egg production as well as health.
The solution? Limiting scraps and providing a nutrient-rich supplement.
What is the solution to making scraps healthy for chickens?
To be healthy for chickens, scraps need more nutrients. In particular, they need more protein, vitamins and minerals.
Insects are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and, most importantly, protein.
That is why we recommend adding insects, or another high-quality protein source, plus a low-dose vitamin and mineral supplement to any scraps that you give your chickens. This boosts protein and nutrition, making the scraps healthy for chickens.
You should also limit scraps to fruit, vegetables, greens and wholegrain, avoiding any processed or fatty foods. And never feed your chickens more scraps than they can eat in 20 minutes, or feed them scraps more than once a day.
For healthy chickens, the main part of their diet should be a high-protein layers pellet.
Do you want to know more about chicken nutrition?
Check out our blog
- Why modern laying hens can't eat what old barnyard chooks did
- The Dos and Don'ts of Feeding Scraps to Chickens
- The Best Diet for Laying Hens
- Do Chickens Need a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement?
- Why protein is so important for chickens
Our blog is based on our 10+ years keeping backyard chickens and working with chicken keepers. If there is something you'd like to know, Contact Us!
Happy chicken keeping!
Rachael - Dine a Chook Australia