Feeding Random Stuff to Chickens

Okay, so someone has given you some exotic ingredient you’ve never heard of, like okra tofu, or banana seeds, or worm legs. Should you feed it to the chickens, and, if so, how?

The general rule for feeding miscellaneous stuff to chickens is to feed it in a separate feeder, while continuing to give them all the ordinary chicken feed they want. The chickens are pretty bored with the same old chicken feed and are sure to take an interest in anything new. They’ll eat as much as they want.

The trick is to avoid trying to make them eat more. Chickens are quite good at figuring out whether feed is good or bad, and how much is good for them. In fact, they’re better than you. So never starve them in order to make them finish off their yummy dish of politician’s hearts. Just take away what they don’t eat.

Try to feed them only what they’ll clean up in a short time — 20 minutes is traditional. In particular, don’t let things that are capable of spoiling sit out to grow bacteria and mold, or attract flies and rats. The refrigerator is your friend. Use it to store the excess, rather than setting out too much.

You can also do it the hard way by looking up the foodstuff in question in a poultry nutrition reference. My favorite is Feeding Poultry by F. G. Heuser, which is one of the old poultry books that I brought back into print. It doesn’t have an entry for politician’s hearts, but it does list some pretty bizarre stuff, like whale meal (page 170) or silkworm chrysalis flour (page 173). The mind boggles. But you’ll still want to use the “try it and see” technique with a new ingredient.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

1 thought on “Feeding Random Stuff to Chickens”

  1. Just found your site/blog yesterday, and love both.

    ..Been trying to learn re/invent the micro-farm foraged-flock wheel and your site’s been a breakthrough.
    Hope you don’t mind weird/frequent questions. Cheers.

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