Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers
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Avian Aqua Miser Original
3 Premade Avian Aqua Miser Originals
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Variety is key in chicken feed

Wheat and barleyAs our grain experiments start to produce chicken feed, I decided I should look a bit further into how to safely substitute homegrown elements for part of our chickens' storebought diet.  I've posted previously that percent protein is the first factor to consider, but proportions of the components in feed is also key.

Raising Poultry on Pasture included a very helpful article that admonished me not to feed our chickens more than 15% of a combination of oats and barley, more than 30% wheat, more than 25% peas, more than 10% flax seed, or more than 5% fishmeal.  Too much oats, barley, and wheat in the chickens' diet can give them diarrhea, excess peas make it tough for chickens to digest protein, and going overboard on flax seed and fishmeal can add an unpleasant smell or taste to eggs and meat.  The article didn't say so, but my own research has turned up the fact that most of the high protein seeds (sunflowers, soybeans, etc.) are also high in phytic acid and should be fed in moderation.

The solution to most of these problems is variety.  If you mix up a bit of oats, some wheat, a healthy helping of corn, and then some higher protein sources, your chickens will do better than if you just fed them wheat.  For those of you, like me, who have only grown a limited amount of grain, another solution is to just give your flock a handful of the fresh stuff every day rather than trying to feed solely homegrown grains for an extended period.  My plan is to toss grain-on-the-stalk into the coop a bit at a time to refresh the deep bedding and give the chickens a treat.

Our chicken waterer provides the other element of a healthy diet --- clean water.


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