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?
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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.
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.