Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Vitamins and minerals in chicken feed

Chickens scratching at chickweedOf course, protein isn't the only factor your should consider when formulating your chicken feed (although it is very important.)  You'll notice that our recipes for chicken laying feed and chicken starter/grower feed contain additional vitamins and minerals.  What should you add to your grains and beans and why?

First of all, laying hens need extra calcium to keep their eggshells strong.  Most people add some combination of aragonite, ground limestone, marble, bone meal, or oyster shells to their feed, but on a small, backyard scale, you can feed eggshells back to the hens.  Just be sure to crush the shells well so that your girls don't realize that the eggs they're laying are food, and be aware that just feeding the eggshells back isn't quite enough.  Luckily, calcium sources are pretty cheap --- drop by your local feed store and chances are you can find one of the sources for a little over a dollar a pound.  Many people who mix their own feeds simply offer one of the calcium sources in a separate trough to their hens --- the girls will eat as much as they need and no more.

The other additive to feeds is either salt or poultry nutri-balancer (which is a combination of calcium, phosphorous, salt, and trace minerals.)  If your chickens live in chicken tractors, like ours, and have access to forage every day, chances are you can get by with just feeding some salt to your birds --- which is a good thing because nutri-balancer is seriously expensive!  If you feel like your birds have a deficiency, you might consider growing some dynamic accumulators to feed your hens, keeping them naturally healthy.

While you're at it, give your birds an automatic chicken waterer, because a hydrated bird is a healthy bird.

This post is part of our Homemade Chicken Feed series.  Read all of the entries:

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