On Sunday, I realized I was completely out of chicken feed. Since it was the Sabboth, I didn't want to run to the feed store so I decided it was time to be more creative with my feeding options for the day. Of course I let the ladies out to free-range, once we got home from church, but since it is winter, I wasn't sure how much they are finding to feed on around our neighborhood.
I scored 2 free pumpkins from the church's fall decorations and set to work preparing them for the ladies. Chicken will eat some pumpkin raw, but they really like it cooked, as it is then smoother textured and easier to digest. The ducks really will only eat it cooked.
First step-smash pumpkin into smaller piece, SO much easier than trying to cut it up.
The clean up crew quickly swooped in to help out.
Step 2-put the smashed up pumpkin into the largest kettle you own. All the recipes say to gut the pumpkin before you cook it, but I figured, hey, I'm feeding this to birds. Just throw it all in the pot.
The pumpkin reduced in size by half once it was cooked.
I dumped the cooked pumpkin into a feed dish & viola!
One of the Brahma's getting a late night snack
And this is what was left in the morning. The one section that was left was more raw and hadn't gotten cooked all the way through. Next time I do this, I will definitely let it cook longer. This was a large pumpkin and I only let it cook about 30 minutes.
Another alternative feed option, is not for the faint of heart for sure!
We buy beef directly from my father and the butcher shop always has an option to order the organs. I was watching Alaska The Last Frontier (my new favorite show) a while back & Eiven and Eve were hunting deer (I almost cried when Eve shot her 1st deer, but that's a story for another day). ANYWAYS, Eve said she keeps the deer livers and feeds them to her chickens in the winter for added protein. Chickens are omnivorous and get lots of protein from the bugs they scratch up. In the winter, of course, the bugs aren't there so if you can supplement the need for protein with a free source, you do it. Plus I'm asking my chickens to lay throughout the winter so I definitely want to keep them healthy. I haven't gotten brave enough to order the heart, but I did order the liver. Boy, does cooking liver stink up the house! I have no idea how people eat this stuff. The smell of it alone makes me want to vomit. But my ladies gobble it up, let me tell you. They love the stuff!
Less obnoxious smelling foods I found were a bag of kale in the freezer and jar of apples from the pantry that didn't seal as well as it should have. But honestly, the ladies enjoyed the liver much more than the veggies.
Another option is to use commercial bird seed. This is definitely not a cheap option and should not be used as a main source of feed, but in a pinch, its a nice treat for your ladies.
For a great article that elaborates on alternative feeds, head over to Harvey Ussery's blog. I envy his greenhouse...I will not lie.