Choosing the right chicken feed can be super confusing – especially if you are new to backyard chickens. There are so many different choices – Pellets, Mash, Crumble, Scratch, Medicated, Starter Feed, Grower Feed, Layer Feed, Organic, Soy Free, Corn Free and Sorghum Free. For some reason chicken feed companies are good at giving lots of options, but are crap at explaining the difference between them. At the same time, what you feed your chickens makes a huge difference to the health of your chickens and the eggs that you get.
Some people swear by mash. Other people swear by crumbles or pellets. Organic might sound like a good idea but you wonder if it’s worth the extra cost. Or you might want to know what the deal is with soy, corn and sorghum free. The trouble with alot of the advice and information out there, is that its often based on anecdotes and opinions and not on the facts.
To cut through the bullshit and get to the facts, I started to do some research. After h
ours, days, weeks of research – I have pulled together the key facts that will help you choose the best feed for your chickens. To share this with you, I will be doing a blog series over the next couple of weeks.
This will which cover:
1. The benefits of good quality feed (covered in this post below)
2. The best type of chicken feed: Pellets, Mash, Crumble and Whole Grains
3. Why you should avoid Soy in chicken feed
4. Why you should avoid Sorghum in chicken feed
5. Why Organic chicken feed is a must.
When it comes to food, I believe that starting with the right ingredients makes a huge difference. Another way of putting it is that you get out what you put in or garbage in / garbage out. And this is just as relevant to feeding chickens as it is to growing vegetables or cooking. When you have backyard chickens, the big benefit you have is that you get to control everthing about how you raise your chickens, the environment they live in and the feed that goes into them.
Compare this to eggs from the supermarket, where it’s very hard to know what you are really getting. What you and I expect from free range eggs is usually very far from reality. So the message is, that just by having your own backyard chickens – you’re already miles ahead! You simply can’t beat eggs from backyard chickens that free range on bugs, grass and scraps, compared to factory farmed eggs from chickens that are crammed in like sardines and often never see the outdoors let alone forage on grass.
But why settle for ‘better’, when you can get the best. Your chickens still rely on chicken feed (grains and pellets) for a significant portion of their diet. And the feed you give them is one of the key things you have control over and can easily improve. Not only will your chickens be happier and healthier, they will also provide you with eggs that have been transformed into a nutrient rich superfood.
The 5 key benefits you can get from choosing the right chicken feed (which is supported by research):
By making sure your chickens are getting the right amount of good qulity nutrients, they are more likely to stay healthy and not get sick. Sick chickens are not fun!
Research shows that the feed you give your chickens can have a significant impact on the number of eggs they lay and the size of the eggs.
Healthy eggs with thick shells means they are less likely to break and will stay fresh longer.
Commercial egg producers will try and tell you that the eggs produced in factory farms are equal to truely free range chickens. Reasearch shows that this is simply not the case. For example the fat profile (omega 3 vs Omega 6) of eggs is directly impacted by what chickens eat.
When people look to eat oganicially, the focus is often on fruits and vegetables. But what is often not understood is that many pesticides are fat soluable and as a result are found in highest concentrations in animal products including eggs.
In the coming posts I will delve further into these benefits by going through the specific things that influence them and research behind it.
In the next post I explain what chicken feed ‘is made of’ and will answer the question – What is the best type of feed: Pellets, Mash or Crumble? The result will surprise you!