If you are new to owning backyard chickens, it is possible you have considered which kitchen scraps are safe to give your chickens and which are best kept for the compost heap. Surprisingly, even if you give chickens foods that are not safe for them to eat, it's likely that they won't eat them anyway. Chickens seem to be surprisingly cluey in deciding what to eat and what foods are not good for their health.
Can chickens eat meat?
Chickens are omnivores, meaning that naturally they eat both meat and vegetable material. So giving chickens left over meat is quite alright. Even if you do not intentionally give your chickens meat, they would likely be regularly eating meat anyway in the form of insects, worms or perhaps a mouse. Protein from such meats as well as protein that is found in layer pellets is necessary in their diet.
What about orange or banana peels?
Even if you feed citrus peel or banana peel to your chickens, you'll find that they'll eat the remaining fruit from the peel but leave the actual rind or peel on the floor of the chicken coop. Like us, chickens love the flesh of most fruits, but don't tend to like the peels. These peels are better of placed in the compost rather than in the chicken coop.
Can chickens eat potatoes or potato skins?
Chickens will happily eat left over chips or mashed potato or even potato skins, although some chickens are found to be fussier than others. The part of the potato that should not be given to your chickens is the potato skin if it has gone green. The green indicates that the starch has begun to be broken down into a toxin. This green on a potato indicates the toxin 'solanine' (although the green itself is chlorophyll and is in itself harmless). This toxin is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family, to which the potato as well as the tomato and others belong. While peeling the skin from the potato will remove most of the toxin, it's best not to feel your chickens any green potatoes or their skins.
Can I give my chickens eggshells?
Calcium is an important part of your chickens' diet as it helps in producing eggs with a tough shell. The chickens can easily break eggs with a thin shell, which can then result in the chickens eating their own eggs. A cost effective source of calcium for your chickens is their own empty eggshells. Make sure these are crushed nice and small and easy for your chickens to eat. An alternative is shell-grit which provides a slow-release source of calcium for your chickens.
What about weeds or lawn cuttings?
Definitely give your chickens green weeds from your garden as these are a source of vitamins and help to make your egg yolks a nice healthy colour. Remember if you've sprayed your weeds or lawns obviously don't give these to your chickens. It's also worth noting that grass clippings from the lawn mower have been known to cause problems in chickens known as an 'impacted crop'. As a chicken eats a range of foods their 'crop' fills up and at night the crop empties into the gut. If chickens grass clippings that are quite long, these many form into a ball in their crop, preventing them from then eating properly. This problem doesn't occur if chickens are left to peck at the uncut lawn themselves as they will eat small pieces of lawn at a time. So make sure your grass cuttings are nice and short if you are going to feed them to your chickens, otherwise add them to the compost heap instead.
Do I need to also feed by chickens layer pellets?
A balanced diet for your backyard flock is very important and can generally not be obtained from only kitchen scraps or garden weeds. For maximum health do not restrict the feed intake of layer pellets. Interestingly, chickens cannot overeat and need a regular supply of feed to satisfy their nutritional requirements. A self-feeder with a regular supply of feed is commonly used for backyard chickens. Most laying chickens eat approximately 120g layer pellets or grain mix per day or around 850g per week, but depends on the quantity of other scraps or grasses that they are also supplied with.
How much water do chickens drink?
Chickens drink from 1 to 2 cups water a day (from 250ml to 500ml), with more consumed in hot weather. It is important that you have a regular supply of fresh water in your chicken coop as too little water results in dehydration, excessive stressBusiness Management Articles, and a decline in egg production. Chickens who have gone without water for 24 hours are said to take 24 more hours to get back to normal.
Article Tags: Layer Pellets, Chicken Coop, Regular Supply
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