With limited forage space we have to add some variety and extra nutrition to their diets ourselves. The chickens get regular non-medicated layer pellets. Medication is OK to treat an illness but we do not want to feed a steady stream of antibiotics. This comes from the local feed stores such as Southern States or Tractor Supply.
Chickens can also eat many foods that humans eat. The chickens get carrots nearly every day and they are fond of apples. Carrots are easy since we stick them in through the chicken wire. The chickens like to peck at the carrot while it balances in the wire. We have an old corn cob feeder that looks like a large spring zip tied to one side of the run chicken. We can fill that with many treats like apple wedges and sweet peppers. Each Monday we eat broccoli but we do not like the stems. Therefore we recycle the cooked stems into eggs by giving them to the chickens. They get leftover baby spinach and lettuce on the weekends. If we have strawberries, the chickens get the tops we cut off. If you are a person who eats a large amount of fresh produce you can share most of this with chickens to supplement commercial chicken feed.
In addition to food we give them crushed oyster shells for added calcium. This makes sure the chicken can lay good hard shelled eggs. I have used the Manna Pro oyster shell since it looks more like grit than shells. I prefer to use oyster shell that has been ground up so it no longer resembles shells of any kind. Feeding chickens shells may encourage egg eating.
We also give them a something called grit. In case you ever wanted to know how birds chew withourt having teeth, they grind their food with an internal organ called a gizzard. This organ needs grit to grind food properly.
They get a vitamin supplement produced by Manna Pro called Omega Egg Maker. This adds vitamins and probiotics to their diet and it reinforces how pampered our poultry is. This is just added by scoopful to their regular layer pellets. The scoop was included. Here is a picture.
These types of treats give the chickens food but also keep them entertained. The chickens want to scratch and peck and hunt or food. That is their instinct. We use many of the Manna Pro products. I like that I can get many of their products in the local Richmond stores and that many of their products come in resealable packages.
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I realize the cost benefit for what we feed the chickens and the number of eggs we get may not look positive. However, these chickens are also pets and provide many hours of entertainment.
Here is a picture of the girls devouring a Manna Pro Mealworm Medley.