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Possible to grow all chicken food?

Posted by yuliana 9 (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 27, 08 at 11:23

I am thinking of getting about 10 chickens and 10 pekins ducks. They will sort of free range in an area about 100' wide and 40' deep where there are two shallow ponds also.

I will have a large garden. My question is - is it possible to grow all their food in the garden? Like corn, potatoes, beans and greens? Most of the duck eggs and some chicken eggs will go back to be their food as well.

I understand this will not happen overnight, but has anyone done that?

Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

It is possible, but probably not cost effective, and it would be very difficult to arrange.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I was thinking (in theory) - if I make all my compost and use heirloom seeds, then my food will be virtually free. My water is well + rain water in Florida. So after the initial investment, outside of labor, the food itself will be free. The only concern, if the chickens will have all their nutrients taken care of just from the garden with no commercial feed.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

The best thing to do is to try it for a year and see what happens. Have feed available, just in case. You can easily supply all their nutritional needs, I might also recommend growing some small grains such as millet and oats or wheat. Sunflowers are also very easy to grow and chickens love sunflower seeds.
Being in florida, you should be able to grow some kind of greens year round. The most economical would be vegatables that the whole plant can be eaten. As well as those that you can easily collect your own seeds from (open pollinated) Although, for myself, cost is not as high of a priority compared to knowing what my animals are eating (or not eating as the case may be) and that means I also know what I am eating in the eggs.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I've read that some breeds are known to be good foragers so maybe research that aspect as well. In my area it is not feasible to consider growing all my own feed in part because I have no where to store it over the winter. In your area it might work. My birds eat way more than I ever thought chickens would and they also have a large pen to scratch in. I have 20 or so birds and they go through a large bag of layer feed in just under a week. That is with corn scratch morning and night, kitchen scraps, pears/apples, and alfalfa hay. Seramas can probably inform you on the nutritional aspect of trying to grow all your own. Heck, you can only try. It's not like our ancestors went out to the feed store every Sat for grain, right? It will be a lot of work, though. Lori


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

wow thats a lot of growing for 10 chickens and 10 ducks. I know a farmer who grows his own food, takes it to the mill and they package it for him for storage. he said it is not cost effective for a small amount of food though. If you supplement what you grow with store brought feed you should be okay. Once you see how much they eat you will appreciate growing some of your own. It can get expensive!!

just remember if you grow your own food to take into account all the animals that will be stealing your food too (deers, birds, etc) and of course the weather.

I like the sunflower idea. I might try that myself!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Way up north here, we are burried in snow and the chickens can't forage, we have been giving them a whole large sunflower head (dried intact) to peck at. In the winter it's a good way to relieve chicken boredom that can lead to pecking each other. Another great one is a whole cabbage (shred up the top a bit to get them started) or a squash cut in half (they will peck it and eat it till all you have left is a thin shell).
I think it is Velvet Sparrow who calls it 'busy food' and it works.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I am planning on growing sunflowers this coming summer to supplement my winter chicken feed. I'm going to hang them to dry, I think. I'm also going to grow some millet. We'll see how that goes. I'll have to rescue them from the wild birds.

I gave my hens a whole cabbage last week but they didn't seem to know what to do with it. I peeled off the whole leaves and they ignored them too. They loved it when I broke it into little pieces and they gobbled it up. I left it in there for them for a few days, but they didn't eat it. I have given them large pieces or raw squash before and they ignored it as well. I think it has to be soft before they will eat it as they love half a zucchini. Lazy girls!

Any other suggestions as to what I can give them as busy winter food? Or grow and dry for supplemental winter feed?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

My chickens don't care for the whole cabbage thing either. I have found, though, when bored to the extreme, they will peck at just about anything. There has only been a few days this winter (so far) that I haven't opened the coop door so they occupy themselves rather well outside. Mine adore apples and any type of fruit. I took a cue from Velvet Sparrow and make them spaghetti from time to time. They absolutely go CRAZY for pasta. Once in a while, if I haven't had kitchen scraps for a few days, I will take them a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Less than a dollar but they really enjoy it. I guess in the summer it is much easier to find supplemental forage for them but I think you can offer cooked treats during the winter and they like it just as well. Lori


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Mine do love spaghetti too. Plain rice is very cheap too and they love it. They are getting some boiled and chopped eggs with their feed this morning.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Both chickens and ducks eat meat, too so be sure to have plenty of insects around.

I would expect the ducks to fly away but not the chickens.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

yuliana, I live on Florida's Gulf Coast and my chickens diet is less than 10% commercial feed. It could be zero if I wasn't lazy. Sometimes it is easier to give them the commercial feed than picking the greens. During the summer I feed the chickens from my home garden. They get the culled, bug damaged and extra vegetables plus any weeds I pull. I grow extra feed corn in the summer and extra greens in the winter for them. I also take flakes of hay, sprinkle rye grass seeds on the flakes, wet it, let the sprouts get a good size and give it to the chickens during the winter. They also get table scraps. I agree with mxbarbie, start out feeding your chickens commercial feed and transition over to homegrown feed as you grow it. You may or may not raise all your feed but any that you do is less you have to buy. I have 9 chickens so it is not like trying to feed 100. I'm sure brendan will find fault in what I'm doing (like mold in the wet hay or not enough protein) but it works for me and my chickens appear to be healthy. Good luck.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I remember reading on journeytoforever's website about how they would use a really gross way to make lots of bug protein for basically free. It involved using garbage and letting it outside for the flies to lay eggs on. It was gross, but it worked. :P I still haven't tried that one! Another thing you can grow is mangel beets. I bought some last year but my garden didn't do well because of too much sawdust in the soil, as well as a killer drought too.

The beets are good for them over the winter and are good for stock feed, if you have a place to store them, but since you are in FL you can probably garden all year long, eh?

I think the chicken maggot feed thing is under small farms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Journey to Forever


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I feed fly maggots and manure worms (red worms). The flies lay their eggs in chicken manure that water has been added--1 qt water to 5 gal bucket pure chicken manure poured in a shallow plastic tray--place in shaded area and nature will do the rest. Observe it daily and when you see that the manure is looking like coffee grounds in spots it is ready to be feed. I use large plastic cage trays (30" x 36") to grow them in and usually have 20 trays at any give time starting 2 each day and harvesting on or about the 10th day. Each tray will produce about 2 pounds of maggots.

If you don't want to sift through to get the maggots just put the tray in the chicken run and let them scratch for them. You might have to stir it up a bit to get the maggots on top for the chickens to notice them the first time you do this but after that you'll only have to place the tray in the run and they'll remember that there is food in those trays.

The manure worms are very easy. Just pile up your chicken manure in a shady place and keep adding manure as needed. Let the pile stand for 2 weeks then buy a few worms (red worms) from a bait shop and dump them in. Cover the pile with anything- black plastic, plywood...anything that will shade you worm bed--you can get just as many worms from this worm bed as you get from those fancy one some say you have to build. After a couple months you can start harvesting a few worms. The older your pile the more worms you'll get. The key is to keep adding more manure to it and keeping it moist (DO NOT OVER WATER) during dry spells. Google 'raising worms' for more info.

The worm and maggot castings are great for use in indoor flower pots or any type of garden or lawns.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I remember reading about one person sprouting grains in buckets and feeding it to livestock. Evidently the sprouts are higher in nutrition than just plain seeds. The whole process seemed easy to downsize, where you soak seeds in the buckets and set them aside to sprout, rinse them and feed them out. Each week you have a new supply of sprouts to work with. The wheat or milo seeds are cheap in bulk and easy to store. The only problem would be the labor involved and tight schedule you are chained to. If and when I get chickens this is one of the things I plan on doing.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I am interested in knowing what seeds are good to sprout. I had soaked some green peas in water then changed my mind about using them, left them in the fridge a few days too many and when I took the bowl out all the peas were sprouting. I fed them to the chickens without even knowing if I did a good thing. They did love them though. Now I am wondering what else is good to sprout for the chickens?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Any seeds are good to grow as sprouts for chickens except soy beans. They have a toxin that can build up in the body when used in this way. All soy must be toasted in order to be use in most animal feeds, toasting chemically neutralize the toxin.

Any whole grain-rye-wheat-oats-corn-wild bird seed mix is a great one. The list goes on and on.

I gave a large number of Seramas chickens to someone who for years breed rare doves because she was so interested in the genetics of these tiny birds; well, she came up with something that small flock (poultry) keepers might be interested in. She used small wooden trays about 4" deep that were 2'x2' filled with organic soil seeded with rye. After it was planted she stapled 1/2" x 1" welded wire over it. Letting the rye grow for a few weeks until it was about a foot or so tall than put them in with her chickens. They would tear into them like a starving fat man at Ponderosa buffet. The wire kept the soil intact and the crowns of the rye plant undamaged, when eaten down she would change it out for another grown tray and regrow the eaten one. I though this was a good idea. Only drawback is the weight of each tray.

Working with her idea I thought if one made a wire cage just big enough to slide a plastic plant tray into (without the inserts) and fastened one side in such a way to allow it to open/close like a flap door that this would be much lighter and therefore easy even for a small child to work with. Again just a thought.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

To my knowledge the crown and root are the most nutrative parts of a grass plant (of course this depends on what nutrient you are after, if you are going for magnesium the green parts are key). Does her method perhaps deny them the best part? I remember years ago reading about how the North Koreans had been reduced to eating grass roots in their on going governmentaly sponsored famine. Koreans being much like chickens in that neither chickens nor humans are by their nature a grass eating species. Thoughts?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I was under the impression that that was simply a lead in to an insult. I don't see how that would be relevant to the discussion of chicken feed, or of the recent unpleasantness on this forum; if you want to create another thread on the subject, asking to see what everyone looks like, and others participate I will as well.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

OK!!!!!!! I started reading this forum for information on real life experiences and I feel like I have made a few friends and have absolutely learned soooo much in the way of care for my flock from people who have experience and want to share them.-----I left this forum for about a month because of all the fighting, all I wanted to do was read the Q/A so that I could learn something new and right in the middle of interesting post - all of a sudden their is a fight about something and then the thread was lost due to this garbage!!!!! Most of us get right back to the original post.....some of us can't seem to just grow up and get over themselves. I am going to be getting peeps in Feb and it will be really cold and will probably have more questions.....maybe by then things will have calmed down. I love being a member of this forum and wish that I could meet all my new found friends and I hope you know who you are. I will be back on this forum in Feb. STOP THE FIGHTING!!!! You are making this forum appear-----UN EVERYTHING..I have no words to describe how this makes me feel.

I am truly sorry if by posting this hurts anybodies feelings..because this is the last thing that I want to do!

again I am sorry :(

I mean no disrespect


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Sorry to have gotten so far off track.

I was listening to a podcast on medical statistics it occurred to me that this problem needs to be broken up to get a good look. The acreage approach would probably be the best place to start. Now you have an area 100'X40', and you will be gardening it, that means you will have unproductive paths where you walk, you wont even want to plant those areas because if you do there is a higher probability of you walking off of them. A 4' wide swath is nearly ideal, most people can reach in 2' and about half can comfortably splay their legs 4' apart and work easily across the whole bed. and you will probably want 1 foot wide paths, that's wide enough for most people to move and to maneuver a wheel barrow, and you will probably want a path cutting across the middle and one down each side to get from row to row easily, so functionally your 100'X40' plot is going to be an 80'X37' area, that's 2960 ft^2 (275 meters^2) which means you will be planting 0.068 (1/15th) Acres (0.0275 (1/35th) Hectares).

So whats next, you have to figure out how much those birds are going to eat, shouldn't be too hard we just need to find an account of someone keeping those birds in a warm climate (and not free range just to be safe, your freerange might not be as productive, it all depends) and find out how much feed they buy and get a breakdown on the nutritional content of that feed. Once you have this information we can look and figure out how many pounds of protein and carbohydrates and fats/oils you need to get through a year.

After that you have to build the bridge from land to nutrients delivered, which means choosing crops, figuring out how much nutrition they will deliver, how to rotate them to get a mix of long lasting grains and highly perishable items, and you will have to figure out what you are going to have to put in in the way of fertilizers and soil amendments and pest controll measures in order to get the yield you are after with the labor you have to put in(here is where it gets expensive). You will also have to figure out what you will need to do to process the crops, and you will need to look at the nutritive impacts of what you do to process them. Sprouting for instance will produce more protein and more simple sugars but at the expense of fats and starches (there for calories). Its just such a complicated question.

I think direct experimentation might be less work, plant your crops, crops that you can take advantage of too if you grow too much, and buy some feed, and get your birds, use your own stuff when you have it and use the feed when you run out, then after you have all the kinks ironed out and know what you can produce you can adjust your number of birds up or down accordingly so that you can maintain them off of your own land.

My gut tells me that with the right kind of soil and the right kind of crops that you could make that easily, but it will be a lot of work and probably cost you more for the first few years than just buying feed for twenty birds would.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I would also like to see the fighting stopped. It is not at all productive. Some people have way too much time on their hands!

I think we should all stick to friendly, positive and constructive, or not say anything at all. Please rethink it before you type it. If it is argumentative or negative at all, DON'T POST IT! The rest of us really, really do not want to read it. It is not intertaining, it is tiresome. It serves no purpose and is a waste of time.

Continually correcting and arguing with others does not make you look more knowledgeable, it just makes you look insecure. If you feel the desperate need to correct someone on some small moot point, please do it by email so the rest of us don't have to read it.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 16, 09 at 11:24

I'm still puzzled about the original post. Growing potatoes and beans to feed ducks and chickens? And feeding them most of the duck eggs?

Breeding maggots for feed is one of those horrible, irresistible, sensible ideas I appreciate these forums so much for. The soil/compost forum is another good source. Growing maggots, and seeding hay flakes - I look forward to trying both this spring. We do have an outdoor worm bin that I sometimes harvest a few redworms from, to give the chickens a treat.

I'll also try sprouting peas, although in the past, when we were selling pea shoots to a chef, the chickens didn't seem wild about leftover (but fresh) pea leaves.

Right now I have scratch (oats, barley, cracked corn) growing in a tray of soil indoors. If anything I've noticed the chickens go for the greens and leave the crown and roots alone.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

All peas and bean sprouts; as well as the seeds; are toxic (to some degree) to most animals. When soy beans are used in most feed rations it has been toasted and/or processed for the protein content. When used in a good ration blend will have corn and wheat gluten included to off set the effects of too much soy. Many organic feed rations are replacing soy with flax either in part or completely. This may be why your chickens weren't wild about the pea sprouts. Small amounts are not harmful especially if mixed with other sprouts or feed rations.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

A number of Humans actually poison themselves every year with raw kindey beans in bean salads. Its because of a protein called Phytohaemagglutinin which is involved in sugar binding and can cause some severe gastric distress. I'm not sure if this is solely responsible for the effect that Seramas is talking about, but its clear that you want to cook them well at a good hot temperature to denature the protein, and you may want to avoid kidney and kidney like beans.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Nelda (Runningtrails) you have not hurt my feelings. You have shamed me. Thank you. I know better. You are absolutely correct and I apologize to you and anyone one who I have made uncomfortable.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

As it turns out that low heat 80 C (176 F) more of that toxin becomes bioavailabe, I cut down my last post and accidentally cut that out, that was the point of what I left too.

What I cut out was something called taste aversion. If you fed your birds uncooked pea shoots and that caused them some level of distress you basically conditioned them to feel ill when they taste pea shoots, its also known as the Garcia effect (I couldn't remember the name of it initially) so it may be imperative that you disguise the taste when you feed them to your birds after cooking them (or if).

Also if you just barely sprout them or are milling legumes into your feed oven toasting is probably best, however if you are feeding them fairly large sprouts a sautee pan is probably a more energy efficient and reliable way to get em up to temp. use a light opil with a high smoke point and cook them for a few minutes until tender and browned a little and that should give you more even cooking than most of us can get by baking and for less gas or electricity (it takes a lot to get an oven up to temp, for one batch its probably more than you need).


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

First of all, thank you everyone for passionate informative posts! As of now, the plans have changed, as far as NO ducks. I researched everywhere, and it seems like ducks are too messy to deal with. To take care of the "ponds" I will just try to put gold fish there.

Island man mitch - I will need to keep your info on file because DH and I discussed several times as of how we could butcher a chicken... And even after a number of videos watched, I don't think we can slice a bird's neck. So, we need someone to do the deed.... :)


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

yuliana No ducks I personally think is a wise choice. I have a gold fish pond that has hundreds maybe even a thousand goldfish. They all came from about 20 feeder goldfish from wal-mart. My pasture ponds have catfish, bream and a small alligator. If your ponds are large enough maybe they could produce some fresh fish for you. Now as far as the "deed" I have always used a hatchet or machete. Let me say up front "I DON"T PLUCK CHICKENS". I can show you how to chop, gut and skin a chicken in just a matter of minutes but "I DON'T PLUCK CHICKENS". It has to do with the smell of a scalded chicken that I don't like so I don't even like the plucking machines. Good luck and I will have my hatchet sharp.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

As far as fish go a native bass or bluegill or catfish would probably be the best choice if you were after a food fish. If you are going to go with goldfish I would recommend that you spend a little extra (maybe $50) for some good lookin' goldfish like Sarasa comets (8 fish gives you a 99.6% chance of getting a pair) or even some Koi. Carp are edible but bony. but let me ask what exactly do you want to happen to take care of the pond? Fish have a way of making things messier, not cleaner. If its mosquito control I'd recommend something small like an american flag fish, any kind of carp is going to be more interested in tearing up the bottom of the pond and eating plants than eating mosquitoes.

Anyone have a figure on how much chickens eat in hot climates?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

You can raise telapia for food. It's relatively new here and is becoming popular due to the short season needed to grow it from egg to table. Some people are raising them in tanks in their basement for food. It's something I've thought about, should we no longer be able to access food from grocery stores due to shortages or cost. It needs a bit longer growing season outdoors than we have here or I would give it serious consideration when we get our pond. You can grow food fish in your pond in zone 9, however. Have you looked at raising catfish or trout for food? Trout may need colder water.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Actually about half the goldfish I have are Sarasa's. They were mostly what was in the wal-mart feeder fish tank the day I bought them and they have reproduced. If times get hard I have some (pushing 12") big enough to eat. A friend of mine checks the feeder tank every time he goes to wal-mart and sometimes find Koi's mixed in. In zone 9 the biggest problem with ponds is overheating during the long hot summers. If you don't have a constant flow of cool water or aerated or depth the heat will kill any eatable fish that I know about. I have what I call balanced pasture ponds. Minnows for the bream to eat. Bream for the catfish to eat. Catfish for me to eat. Other than lowering the bream populations on occasion they require nothing from me. I don't care for the soft flesh of Bass that come from warm water ponds. I am guessing it is to hot for Trout because no one that I know have them. Some people here are raising Tilapia. They don't work for me because they will over populate a pond in no time if you don't manage them and become stunted. What I have is not production ponds but farm ponds so I don't even feed them. Survival of the fittest. I like low to no maintenance.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

That's interesting about the pea sprouts. Chickens - they don't know much but they know what they like. It's too bad they don't like flax seed - any idea why? I mix them whole into their cooked-scratch gloop so they'll eat them.

The scratch seed in the tray of soil is not making lush growth - looks like the seed is old, which makes me wonder - that they're selling old seed for feed.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Scratch feeds vary greatly on what is included. Some mills mix their own and they will carry millets and sorghum and many other seeds separate for the wild bird sales and will later mix what is left over the following year for scratch feed. That is why I never buy scratch feeds. Lately, sales for layer rations have sky rocketed (at our local TSC it has Quadrupled in the past year alone) and scratch feeds have dropped off by as much as 40%.

For sprouting buy a wild birdseed blends. It will be fresh (beware of seeds from Dollar stores they can be 3 or 4 years old and moldy) and have a large verity of seeds that all germinate in the same time frame.

Flax is a very hard seed and its shape makes it hard to swallow. If you run it through a food processor to break it up a bit they will eat it better. Most mills that use flax seed mix all the different seeds together and run them through a grist mill that pulverizes them into a course meal then adds molasses, Vits/mins and the required gluten (wheat-corn-soy) to achieve the protein level they want for that blend. When mixed completely, the whole mixture is compress into the end product (pellets, crumbles, meals).

If you are trying to feed a large number of birds flax seed it is easiest to soak the seed over night. I pour boiling hot water over the seeds until the water is 1" above the seeds. Let it stand overnight (min 12 hrs), it will swell and become easier to eat.

Like any new food, start with small amounts to get them to recognize it is good food-keep increasing amount until you reach the desired level of consumption needed. Remember, the protein level in Flax is higher than the levels required by most chickens. To feed only flax can and will shorten the productive life of hens and can cause kidney damage in your roos. Do not exceed 50% flax in their diet, 35-40% if you are using a 16% layer blend.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Do chickens like flax sprouts? It grows so easily from seed. I thought might grow some for seeds to use as sprouts and feed them the whole plant as well. This kind of information about the flax protein is very helpful. I am going to grow a lot of various seed things for the chickens next year, sunflowers, amaranth, millet. I may let some of my ordinary veggies go to seed too, like lettuce. I'm adding in all the dried crushed squash seeds I can spare, too. I'll keep the flax seed down in the mix. Good to know! The trick will be to get these things harvested and dried before the wild birds get them.

When I get my pond, I'm only going to raise koi and pond plants for sale (being a gardener first). I'd like to raise a food fish, but I don't have time so I have to limit us to what we can deal with. I have read that carp can be really good if cooked dry, mushy if cooked too wet. Koi are expensive, intelligent and trainable pets, so I don't know if we'll eat many, but it's an idea. Maybe we'll just eat the bad natured trouble makers.

Hubby mentioned raising trout and letting people fish in our pond for a per hour price, with a limit of fish, but we'd need a very deep pond for trout and I don't think we're going to get it.

Looking for baby koi in the feeder fish tank is such a great idea! I'm going to do that! Thanks!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Yes. Try sprinkling some poppy seeds in with them when you sprout them. Poppy seeds have a calming effect on chickens and they don't stress as easily when added to their diet either in seed form or as sprouts.

Use the cooking poppy seeds-plant them in your garden-after they flower they produce vast amounts of in each pod. Sprout about 1/2 teaspoon of them with your other sprouts-chicken sedative-wha-la.

We always roast our carp wrapped in foil on the grill-we only gutted it-cooking it with the skin/scales/head still on it. After the first 5-7 minutes on the hot grill open the foil to allow the excess moisture to evaporate. When done placed it on a large platter using a fork and butter knife gently pealed back the skin starting from the belly to the back bone-pulled off the removed skin carefully so the scales did not fall into the meat. Then starting at the belly again using the fork and butter knife pealed back the flesh from the bones the same way as removing the skin. Then turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. We love many different herbs stuffed into the belly cavity including but not only, rosemary, roasted garlic, basil...what ever you like. Try different things in different combinations or just add nothing (it very good plain, too).


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Buy fresh poppy seeds not that jar you have had in your spice rack since you got married (as it turns out poppy seeds drop of in germination rates very rapidly). Am I the only one who thinks its odd that we are talking about starting chickens on an opioid habit?

Tilapia are a Cichlid, and as such closely related to bass and sunfish, and if you aren't in the mood to maintain a population I would imagine that the addition of predator that can take down medium sized fish and stunted fish but not the full grown fish you want to eat. Trout will not work for the OP, speaking of which, anyone know how much food you need for 10 hens in zone 9 for a year?

Looking at just corn I know you can grow heirloom varieties and get 1 cob per square foot in 85 days or so in standard soil and I'll bet that you can get 3 crops in if you start them under lights and transplant out seedlings a few days old, so if you wanted to do just corn that would be 9000 8" cobs, that's two and a half cobs per bird per day, and a whole lot of processing. If you planted out a third of your area in corn that would be enough corn I am sure, that might even be enought food for them total if they freerange over the rest of the area. If you overplanted this with a winter squash you could supplement the cob (5/6th with my math but depending on what you plant you can get more, lets round ) per bird per day with this with 2 oz. of squash meat and this is off of one third of your land. (if I was right about the three successive crops I know you can get at least two) and something like millet or sorghum or flax would be a good source of seeds for scratch, I don't know about growing in your area though.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

lol! Now how in the world did you know that I have poppy seeds that old?? (I don't, really. I overcame my addiction to collecting just a few years ago and actually threw things away.) I was going to ask if the poppy seeds kept them calm because of the opiate - makes sense. Maybe I'll eat some too ;-) I have lots of poppies, and they sure do produce millions of seeds, but mine are large peony poppies. Will that seed do? I can sell some as cut flowers too. They get 2.5 ft tall with a single flower on a straight stalk - huge double blooms in all colours. Maybe I'll buy seed at the grocery store and sow them together to grow both for a mix of minerals. I'll never poppy need seed again! Thanks for the suggestion. I would never have thought of using poppy seed.

Ditto for the flax seed. Does it matter if it's blue and red ornamental flax? I will also buy some flax seed at the grocery store and plant those all together.

Can chickens eat forget-me-not seeds? What about burdoc and curly dock seed, Queen Anne's lace seed(wild carrot), giant thistle seed and wild goldenrod seed? I always have fields of those things, even without trying. I'm on a roll here! This is exciting. I can get rid of all the "bad" things and harvest them for chicken feed!

I know I can't get three plantings of corn up here. I'm happy to get just the one planting saved from racoon thieves! Those &&%^$***!@!! racoons! They're so cute but they can clear a field clean in one night!

Corn is too space intensive for me to grow that much, I think, and time intensive too, if I take it off the cob. I do want to grow some corn to put into the mix. Will it dry hanging on the cob on the veranda with the herbs and sunflowers? I know I don't have the freezer space to keep it in there, and I don't have a food dryer (will a clothes dryer work? lol - whole cobs bouncing around?). I would like some corn mixed in the feed for the sugar content.

I need garden and freezer space for human consumables too :-).

Those directions for cooking carp sound great and easy! Thank you very much! Have you eaten koi? I am supposing they are just carp, like any other, just a different colour? I am sure we will have culls that are gray and black, etc, that I think we could eat if we let them get big enough.

Lots of great ideas guys!! I can't wait till spring! Can chickens eat fiddleheads? I get boxes full of them coming up early spring and we don't really like them. I have the list of plants poisonous to birds, thanks, I'm just lazy.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Koi are to the domesticated carp what spaniels are to dogs.

The seeds of those poppies will work.

Field corn can be hung to dry, sweet corn not so much.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

runningtrails move south.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I've planted poppy seeds that were in the tin for 15 years or more than, 1/2 grew. They are a very hard seed and store well.

Any type of poppy seed is good. Curly Dock seeds are good for all poultry especially for ducks. Don't use Burdock it is too risky. In small amounts the root is good for a number of ailments-it is one of the iffy herbs. Many animals and humans are sensitive to it-I would not risk it.

Queen Anne's lace seeds will lower fertility and egg production in poultry. It is recommended to reduce the QAL in pastures and poultry yards for the above reason. If I remember right the American Native Indians use some preparation made from QAL as a contraceptive.

All types of corn can air dry. Delay picking until stalks are brown. Pick corn then pull husks back (but not off), then tie a string tightly around the husks of 8-10 ears and hang them in a sheltered area out of the sun-like under a roof overhang--in the rafters of an out building. They will naturally dry and must have plenty of air flow about them to prevent molds to grow.

Poultry will eat Fiddle Head Ferns, the younger the leaves the better. They will eat Boston Ferns also--mine have consumed several beautiful plants that were left in the greenhouse right down to the ground. They were moved to the basement and are growing back.

Beware of feeding poke (ink-berry) to poultry-many are very sensitive to it.

On my farm there are 4 large and deep ponds that have Koi in them. Some are 24" long or bigger. I put them in there some 32 years ago. There a many off-spring and probably some of the original fish. They are long lived fish-each a painted master-piece with no copy. Could not eat they for that reason.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I let my field corn and culled sweet corn dry on the stalk in the field. Once it has dried and has not been recently rained on I pull (pick) the ears shuck and all. I store it in a wire corn crib in the barn. A wire corn crib is nothing more than an extra large tomato cage. You can double stack to save space. When I feed it to the chickens I give it to them in the shuck. They have more time to pick it off the cob than I do. Done this way not much time involved really.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

well I stand corrected on the poppy seeds, years ago when I was trying to grow some Blue Himalayan Pappy's from seed one of the recommendations I saw again and again was to use the seeds as soon as you were ready to and not put it off for a season because they loose germinating ability, but false information like that has a way of propogating through the system, I surely will not repeat that again.

If you were trying to plant several crops in succession drying in the field wouldn't work, can you plant corn in succession in florida like you can with crops like wheat?

How much corn do your birds eat?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Those blue himalayan poppies sure are beautiful, but hard to grow! I've tried a few times with no luck. I think all seeds probably lose some germinate rate with age. If I'm planting seeds a few years old, I plant 3-4 x more seed. There are always exceptions. Helebore seed have to be planted fresh or take years to germinate. Maybe its the same with the blue H. poppy.

If I could trust the racoons to leave the corn alone, I could leave it on the stalks to dry. I can hang it under the veranda roof to dry also and that's what I'll probably do with it. I have a very large dry shed to keep all in. I can hang it in there from the ceiling for storage and hang other dried things too! It's an idea that just occurred to me.

Will flax seed bought from the store grow or is it treated with something to prevent it from growing and will commercial food flax have the same growing season as the ornamental variety? In other words, will it go to seed here?

Thanks for the info on the dock and QAL. I'll stick to feeding them the curly dock, have LOTS in a wild field next to the chicken house! Do we know anything about goldenrod and chickens? I don't think we have poke here. I'll have to look it up and see.

I know koi are long lived, beautiful and intelligent creatures. Mine used to come up and take worms right out of my hand, they were so tame. However, that's the way a farm is. We plan on eating the chickens too, when the laying slows down. We will be selling a lot of the koi when they get bigger and will just be culling some that won't sell. This is my thought on the subject anyway. We don't have a pond yet and I don't know if we like carp. We'll have to try it and see.

SustainableSarah (I like that name) I'm about as far south as I can be and still be in Canada. What I'd really like to do is move east, into the wilderness of Newfoundland or the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Primeaval forest, undisturbed, nothing there but wildlife - or west near the Great Bear Rain Forest, but it rains all year there, almost daily and I don't like rainy weather. Did you know that Canada has one of the few coastal rain forests left (Coastal, not tropical). Google it "Great Bear Rain Forest" - interesting place.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Trap and eat the racoons!

I was under the impression that food flax is a biproduct of the linen industry, and as such there aren't "food" varieties. Flax was purportedly the first crop to experience agriculture, and it was used for fiber at that time.

As for Koi I would recommend that anyone looking to raise them start with a small stock of Koi from asia, Japan would be ideal because some of how viciously they cull, with as few as one out of 10,000 eggs making it to breeding age (you can do this with fish that live 200 years) or barring that ($50 to $100 for a 4" fish)from south east asia where many koi farms raise stock recently (past 50 years, still one generation) imported from japan but do not cull as severely, The problem with most american (and I would imagine canadian as well) stocks is that they let the fish interbreed between different strains, and the hybrid strains typically do not look as attractive. Occasionally you get a really good looking individual, Koi are after all always beautiful fish, but you will have a less beautiful population and that limits their value for resale should you choose to go that rout in the future. Personally I really like Platinum Ogon but Kohaku, showa, Sanke, or Tancho Sanke probably represent a better investment. They do cost significantly more, but for food reasons they will have the same yield and they have that resale value, of course this is useless if you miz them because the offspring will have no more value than a $5 walmart koi.

When it comes to cooking remember that citrus and Lemon belong together.

I love primeval forests, I used to spend my childhood on Kodiak island (a rainforest island) playing in giant pillows of moss, and just love the diversity of the forest floor.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I don't have a problem with raccoons eating my corn once it is past the tender stage. I use the drying method seramas describes for the corn I intend to mill into corn flour, corn meal and grits. I grow to much feed corn to hang dry it by hand. Limited by time, space and laziness field drying is my only option.
There are pay to fish ponds here. You pay an entry fee then so much a pound for the fish you keep. Different places offer different services. Rental of accoutrements. Bait. Snacks. Cold drinks. Fish cleaning. Prepackaged fish for the unlucky fisherman.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

It was 1974 I went to Japan to buy long-tailed chickens of pure stock and while there bought 100 koi each about 8" long. Between the chickens and Koi a real nice home could have been purchased!

It is a big problem with Americans, they will buy one pure breed what ever and breed it with something that looks close to being the same and sell them as pure breed stock.

I raise Seramas and have tried to buy stock from Very High Profile Promoters of Seramas. When the DNA (I have my own equipment) was compared to the import records, they were hybrids mixed with American Japanese and American Old English Game birds. When confronted they tried to deny it until the DNA results were brought up and they refunded my money and didn't want the birds back.

Flax seed (linseed) has been breed for hundreds if not a few thousand years. There are hundreds of verities, many no longer exist. The Jewish have used many verities for animal feed and in many different forms in traditional foods. Throughout Northern Africa and Middle East and Asia it has been cultivated and developed into many different verities. They use it to make oil for cooking, milled into flour and used in a multitude of recipes, and then (my favorite) Halvah candy made from golden flax seed.
The vast uses of this seed has been overlooked in America.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 18, 09 at 12:31

That is all very interesting. The scratch we use is nothing but whole oats and barley, and cracked corn. I cook it up a bit and add the flax seed which brings out its gelatinous coat.
I will try sprouting wild bird seed. And feeding the hens poppy seed. The things I learn here! Crushed dried poppy heads and seeds ('doda') used as a mild opiate have become something of a drug problem in Ontario, I hear...

Some notes from the website linked below. It also says that in Saskatchewan, possibly the world's single largest producer, flax is commonly grown as part of a four year rotation.

"Humans have consumed flax, commonly referred to as linseed in most countries outside of North America, for thousands of years. Over the centuries, the production of flax spread across Europe, Africa and finally to North America where it was the first oilseed to be widely grown in Western Canada.

The awareness of flax as a beneficial food and feed has been increasing among the North American population. Over the last decade in North America, the use of flax in breads, bagels and other baked goods has tripled the demand for flax in the food industry. Some other niche markets for flax include premium pet foods, which improve the overall health and appearance of cats, dogs and horses. The majority of flax in North America is consumed as feed; while in China and India it is mostly consumed as food.

Production
Canada is the largest producer of flaxseed in the world, representing about 40% of world production. China, the United States (US), and India, together account for 40% of world production."

Here is a link that might be useful: flax


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Brendan, can american flag fish and carp live together in a pond?

You said "trap and eat raccoon"... what if they have rabbies?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Yuliana yes they cat, but in Florida you will need a deep well shaded pond for koi to grow large, they need cool water to do this because cooler water carries more dissolved gasses, including oxygen. Carp will eat smaller fish, but they are not effective hunters, they are primarily root eaters in their native habitat, they will eat all you water lilies if you don;t pile up large rocks around their bases.

As for Raccoons you don;t eat them raw, you cook them first, just don't get bitten and wear gloves when you butcher. Raccoon is greasy but edible, and no one will miss the garden thieves.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Eat Racoon! Now that's an idea right out of the Beverly Hill Billies! That reminds me of an article called "Possum Living". Modern people who eat road kill, as long as they know how it died. Farmers around here would love to do something useful with the darn racoons! They steal everything. I'll run that idea past hubby and see if he'll eat it...

When I get ready to buy koi again, I will look into buying pure strains from Japan. Don't know if I will be able to afford it. I'll have to see at the time.

I'm definately growing flax next year, for human and chicken food, as well as poppy seeds. lol! We Ontarians are known for a lot of things, poppy seeds just being one of them.

The more I think about the pay to fish thing, the more I like it. It's more business than we want to get into right now, I think. No time for it, but it is something I'm going to keep in mind for the future.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 18, 09 at 17:11

Forgot to say: flax seed, either brown or golden, sold as food from the health food store or section of other grocery store, is very easy to grow and makes a beautiful flower patch. Flax is supposed to be a good companion plant to potatoes so I always grow a patch alongside them. Deters potato beetle maybe? We rarely have a problem with potato beetle so maybe that's why.

Getting clean seed out of the ripe pods is tricky without some kind of threshing and winnowing set-up so I don't bother, but making something home made is on my list of things to do.

Lastly, flax is not a self-seeding problem in zone 6 or lower (I emailed the Saskatchewan flax council one time about this) but I do find the odd self-seeded plant coming up each year.

AND, there's a lady I know who grows stunning Tibetan blue poppies (Meconopsis grandis) in Alaska. They are different from the opium poppies (Papaver somniferum).


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Seramus - how many chickens do you have and what method of raising them do you use? I am interested in how much feed you save using the 4 pounds of maggots per day?


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Right now I have 2 separate flocks-one on the farm and one at our Dowling home. At the farm there are about 800 Seramas, 300 Phoenix, 100 Sebrights (Silver & Gold), 100 Mille Fleur D'uccle, 130 Black Cochin, 200 Old English (about 14 different colors), 75 Dutch (3 colors), 200 Cubalaya (5 variations), probably 20 other breeds to a lesser degree-Then there is my Australian Grass Finch collection (1500), and 110 MaCaws, with a few odds and ends. Feed bill if purchased would be about $25,000/year-we grow almost every thing except some of the citrus, kiwi, mangoes, many south American nuts for the MaCaws $5,500/year.

At Dowling I try to keep the numbers to about 400-500 mostly Seramas. 2 Quail (Jumbo Northern Bobwhite), 11 Mutant Green X ringneck pheasants, my wife's babies (silkies) and 12 other breeds of poultry. Food bill is high because I use a lot of very expensive supplements, vitamins, minerals that are pharmaceutical grade.

My accountant told me my 'hobby' costs in total about $143,000 for 2008. That includes 4 MSU Students that care for the Farm Flocks. I have a tendency to go overboard at times. But, I love animals-especially birds. Well worth it!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

*L* seramas, you leave us all in the dust. Never again will I look at my piddly flock of 38 chickens and think, "I have too many chickens!"

This is like a Chickens Anonymous meeting. :)

I need more chickens....

Velvet ~:>


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

velvet how are your chicks doing? did they all survive?

seramas please tell us that somewhere in that mix you make money off those birds. to be sure that is just not a hobby! All those birds and your wife is happy with some silkies? Good woman...


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I don't make any money, selling only a very few birds. If I tried there is a fortune one could make with chickens. It is a hobby. Last year 3400 chicks-young cockerels and pullets and older birds that are culled (removed) from my breeding program were given to 4-H members and to children under 10 years old.

Many of the meat birds and eggs are quietly given to people that have limited funds. I have done well with investments and have no desire to make it into a business, that takes all the fun out of it.

If it were up to my wife, not one single bird would ever leave us. She gets so attached it is hard to part with any, besides she has her cats (16)-all are getting up in age and require a lot of time to clean up after and give attention to.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Wow! I, too, have thought I might have too many chickens with just 21! My goodness that's a lot of birds! And here I'm thinking the addition of one pig might be too much work for us. We don't make much money from our chickens. We end up giving a lot of eggs to the Salvation Army Soup kitchen in town because we just don't have enough customers to buy them all, and we eat many ourselves.

Kudos to you Seramas for giving yours to needy families!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Runningtrails, I live in that "great bear rainforest"...come on up the weather is FINE!
I used to get annoyed with the hype about the "save the bear forest" BS (in case you didn't know, Kermodei bears are not a species unto themselves, they are a blonde black bear, caused by a recessive gene that most if not all of the black bears in the PNW carry) But now I am older and wiser, and I support any propaganda that deters developers from nosing around my wilderness ; )


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

MxBarbie,
I didn't know people could actually live in the rain forest. Does it rain a lot, is that why its a "rain Forest"? How cold does it get in the winter there? What are the prices like for 10 acres of land to build a cabin on (that's the big quesiton)?

Keep out developers and loggers! Take a drive up through norther Ont past Thunder Bay. There were acres and acres of lovely forest, now cleared of trees! It's really disheartening!

I'd love to visit the rain forest! Would like even more to live in it!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

Peas love the rain forest, so does digitalis, not sunny enough for most crops to really yield, unless you cut down the forest, which sucks. You can grow lots of different kinds of berries.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I had beautiful peas this year, my digitalis didn't do so well though, not wet enough. I am about an hour drive from the coast so we don't get quite as much rain (good thing!) but the moss and the huge trees are still here. There are several towns on or near the coast where you can buy land quite inexpensivly. I'll email you, runningtrails with some ideas.


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

That would be great! Thank you very much!


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RE: Possible to grow all chicken food?

I have an old fashioned feed/hardware store in town. what loose seed could I buy in bulk to feed the chickens cheaply and can I let them sprout in a bowl and put them in the pen for them to eat as sprouts in a tin?

I had a big rock in the yard that had soggy soil under it. I moved the rock and OMG the chickens went crazy scratching in it picking out worms and those nasty potato bugs. I know that is not answering the question just a sidebar. LOL


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