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Growing Your Own Chicken Feed: Top 20 Plants for a Well Rounded Organic Poultry Diet

Contents:

#1: Top 10 Grains for sustainable egg production and broiler growth

#2: Top 4 Bonus plants for added flock nutrients

#3: Top 6 Plants for superior egg shell health

*Note: Generally, layer hens require a diet with around 16% to 18% protein to support optimal egg production. Average protein contents will be listed for each grain (Free range hens may require less protein depending on their outdoor environment as their natural foraging of bugs, worms and other insects will contribute to their overall protein intake). Links will be provided for seeds to grow your own under each plant (UK coming soon).

Organic Harvest Gardening

#1: Top 10 Grains for sustainable egg production and broiler growth

Growing your own grains for chicken feed can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to provide nutrition for your flock. While the specific choices may vary based on your location and climate, here are ten popular grains that you can consider growing at home for chicken feed:

1. Corn

(Protein 8-10%): Corn is a common and versatile grain that provides energy and can be easily grown in many regions.

US: ebay.us/JRdNQp

UK:

AU: ebay.us/k1X36R

2. Wheat

(Protein 10-15%): Wheat is a nutritious grain that can be grown in a variety of climates and provides essential carbohydrates.

US: ebay.us/WxV0Kt

UK:

AU: ebay.us/wtFlDR

3. Barley

(Protein 10-12%): Barley is another excellent grain that is rich in carbohydrates and protein. It is well-suited for cooler climates.

US: ebay.us/YcL5lo

UK:

AU: ebay.us/Nc2QvH

4. Oats

(Protein 11-17%): Oats are highly nutritious and provide a good source of protein, fiber, and energy. They are well-adapted to cooler climates.

US: ebay.us/vrYTqB

UK:

AU: ebay.us/MW3OSm

5. Millet

(Protein 10-12%): Millet is a hardy and drought-resistant grain that is rich in protein, fiber, and minerals. It can be grown in various climates.

US: ebay.us/uY8psf

UK:

AU: ebay.us/ZrvR94

6. Sorghum

(Protein 9-12%): Sorghum, also known as milo, is a versatile grain that is rich in carbohydrates and protein. It is well-suited for warmer climates.

US: ebay.us/MayuQR

UK:

AU: ebay.us/qtCZo1

7. Buckwheat

(Protein 10-15%): Buckwheat is a fast-growing grain that provides protein and essential amino acids. It can tolerate poor soils and cooler climates.

US: ebay.us/s7KWoB

UK:

AU: ebay.us/n1nDTr

8. Quinoa

(Protein 12-18%): Quinoa is a high-protein grain that contains all essential amino acids. It is adaptable to different climates but prefers cooler conditions.

US: ebay.us/uxvCmF

UK:

AU: ebay.us/aLrRim

9. Amaranth

(Protein 13-15%): Amaranth is a highly nutritious grain that is rich in protein, fiber, and minerals. It thrives in warm climates.

US: ebay.us/SXi2lC

UK:

AU: ebay.us/MwW5NB

10. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

(Protein 16-20%): While technically not a grain, sunflower seeds are a valuable addition to chicken feed. They are high in protein and healthy fats.

US: ebay.us/VB2Upp

UK:

AU: ebay.us/XfrWhD

A cost-effective method for drying and storing homegrown harvested grain for chicken feed is to utilize natural air drying and simple storage containers. After harvesting, spread the grain in a thin layer on a clean and dry surface, such as a tarp or clean concrete floor, in a well-ventilated area. Turn the grain regularly to ensure even drying and prevent mold growth. Once the grain reaches the desired moisture content, transfer it to clean, airtight containers such as food-grade buckets with tightly sealed lids. Store the containers in a cool, dry location, away from direct sunlight. This budget-friendly approach allows for effective drying and storage of the grain while minimizing costs associated with specialized equipment.

Bonus tip: Adding a small amount of organic apple cider vinegar to the chicken’s drinking water can help maintain a healthy digestive system by balancing pH levels and supporting beneficial bacteria growth.

Organic Harvest Gardening

#2: Top 4 Bonus plants for added flock nutrients

The use of additives to boost vitamins and minerals in commercial chicken feed may raise concerns about potential health risks. Excessive supplementation can lead to nutrient imbalances in eggs, impacting the safety and nutritional value for consumers. Prioritizing natural and organic feed options can promote a more balanced approach to poultry nutrition, ensuring the well-being of both chickens and those consuming their eggs. Here are some alternatives:

1. Pumpkin/Wintersquash

Pumpkins are rich in vitamins A and C, promoting healthy eyesight, immunity, and collagen formation. They are also high in fiber for improved digestion and contain protein-rich seeds. Incorporating pumpkins into chicken feed enhances their overall health and productivity.

US: ebay.us/zoNJ0f

UK:

AU: ebay.us/IMFZOv

2. Pak Choi

Pak choi, also known as bok choy or Chinese cabbage, is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium and iron. Pak choi supports immune function, bone health, and digestion in chickens.

US: ebay.us/TzMjFC

UK:

AU: ebay.us/7iv0so

3. Mulberry Trees

Mulberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, promoting immune health, blood clotting, and digestion in chickens.

US: ebay.us/FeNvhC

UK:

AU: ebay.us/XWDOWt

4. Comfrey

Comfrey is rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, and essential vitamins, promoting strong bones, eggshell formation, and overall health. However, it should be fed in moderation alongside other foods.

US: ebay.us/tX3BtM

UK:

AU: ebay.us/P4BP9N

Organic Harvest Gardening

#3: Top 6 Plants for superior egg shell health

Several plants can be grown to promote eggshell health in chickens. Here are some of the best options:

1. Alfalfa

Alfalfa is rich in calcium, which is crucial for producing strong eggshells. It can be grown and fed as fresh leaves or dried hay.

US: ebay.us/ud94vQ

UK:

AU: ebay.us/tFpD7F

2. Dandelion

Dandelion leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium and potassium. They can be offered fresh or dried to chickens.

US: ebay.us/eE4MY5

UK:

AU: ebay.us/YM3ckC

3. Nettle

Nettle leaves are high in calcium, iron, and other minerals that contribute to eggshell quality. They can be harvested and fed fresh or dried.

US: ebay.us/wl2MHT

UK:

AU: ebay.us/2kyFQ0

4. Purslane

4. Purslane: Purslane is a succulent plant that contains omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and other nutrients. It can be a beneficial addition to a chicken’s diet.

US: ebay.us/9OKrXY

UK:

AU: ebay.us/xPyQly

5. Borage

Borage is a herbaceous plant, can be a beneficial addition to chicken feed as it provides a source of nutrients and offers potential health benefits due to its high content of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and other beneficial compounds.

US: ebay.us/QxKLXf

UK:

AU: ebay.us/BK7Nd1

6. Calendula

Calendula flowers are rich in antioxidants and can support overall health, including eggshell quality. They can be offered fresh or dried.

US: ebay.us/aSmbhZ

UK:

AU: ebay.us/7CRL9a

Remember to introduce new plants gradually and in small amounts to allow chickens to adjust to them. Providing a balanced diet, including a variety of grains as listed in part 1, alongside these plants, will help ensure optimal eggshell health for your chickens.

Organic Harvest Gardening

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