Chicken Feed - What Chooks like to Chomp!

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

10 April 2017

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Hello chicken keepers,

I am THE doting mother hen - I’m much more vigilant about my chickens' nutrition and with their daily intake of vitamins and minerals than I am of my own! While I see nothing wrong with consuming half a dozen cinnamon donuts in one sitting, I know that when it comes to my flock’s nutritional needs only the most natural chicken feed, useful dietary supplements and healthy chook treats will do!

chickens eating chicken feed from treadle feeder

Let’s take a peck at what nutritional needs your chickens have to live, lay and play well!   

Essential

  • Protein - Chickens need protein for tissue growth, energy and injury repair. Got a moulting hen on your hands? Up their protein intake to ease the transition to their new chooky ‘do!
  • Carbohydrates - Carbohydrates provide your chickens with their daily energy for all that cluckin’ and scratchin’ that needs to be done. Forage fuel!
    • Sources - Oats, wheat, lentils
  • Fats and Oils - Chooks need to consume good fats and oils to aid in injury repair and give them energy.
    • Sources - Flax seeds, tuna, sunflower seeds
  • Vitamin A - Essential to your chicken nutrition plan for immune health and mucous production - which means a healthy crop and gut!
    • Sources - Leafy greens, sweet potato, carrots and cod liver oil
  • Vitamin B - This vitamin is crucial for keeping your flock’s feathers fabulous and healthy!
    • Sources - Grains, fish
  • Vitamin D - Getting your girls out and about in the sunshine will help them consume vitamin D, great for bone health and strong egg-shells!
    • Sources - Sunshine, cod liver oil, sardines
  • Minerals - Your chookies will need calcium and phosphorous to stay strong and healthy.

isa brown chickens eating leafy greens

Supplements

  • Shell Grit - Let your girls get gritty by natural free-range foraging or by adding shell grit to their daily feed. Grit is essential to a chicken’s digestive system and delivers much needed minerals like calcium and phosphorous.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - This wonderful liquid balances your chook’s PH levels, fights off intestinal infections and parasites and keeps their feathers glossy and full.
  • Garlic - Oh garlic! What can’t this wonder herb do? For your chooks, garlic helps their bodies repel and resist pests such as mites, lice and worms, in a similar way to apple cider vinegar.

magda jungle fowl chicken eating shell grit in coop

Treats

  • Watermelon - Cool and hydrating, watermelon will provide your flock of chickens with fun and vitamins on a hot summer day!
  • Berries - Packed full of vitamins and carbohydrates for energy - berries make a great treat for your hens - especially frozen into ice blocks for summer.
  • Mealworms - These all round powerful treats are like crack for chooks! Protein-packed, mealworms make a great snack for moulting chooks or those stubborn hens off the lay.
  • Corn - This by far is my #1 chook treat in winter. It raises your hens’ body temperature, ready for their roost at night, and gives them an incentive to follow you back to their run after a good afternoon forage session!  
  • Natural yoghurt - While dairy is not a traditional part of chicken nutrition, in careful moderation sugar-free yoghurt is a great option to treat your chooks. Chickens who are low in calcium or recovering from illness will especially benefit from a little slurp of a this probiotic wonder treat.

audrey the australorp in her chicken coop eating corn cob treat

If you are looking for more ideas on chicken nutrition and feeding your girls the natural, easy and cheap way have a peck here.

After some more cheeky chook action? Join our communities on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

Feathers Forever,

Kassandra x

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