Chickens on Allotments - Grow Your Own Poultry Feed
The biggest on-going cost in poultry keeping is the cost of feed, and this is also the biggest area of opportunity to save money. Poultry feed is getting so expensive that it is forcing some enthusiasts to cut the number of birds they keep.
The ever-increasing prices of wheat and the dramatic rise in raw commodities continue to be a worry if you have a significant number of birds. Transport and fuel prices also effect the market. The outlook for feed cost is a gloomy one with more price rises on the cards.
Becoming entirely self-sufficient for poultry feed may not achievable but there is a variety of crops that can be grown on allotments to substantially reduce the amount of bought poultry feed. Self-sufficiency can mean less eggs in some cases but it does not mean that hens are any less happy with foraging for food in a more natural environment.
Free-range chickens can feed themselves if they have access to enough biologically diverse ground. Providing such an area which is also safe from predators is often not possible.
Fortunately at allotment gardens we can grow a diverse amount of poultry feed which means less dependence on purchasing poultry feed.
Green plants, fruit, seeds, earthworms, beetles, insects, snails and slugs are all fresher and more nutritious for chickens than what you can buy in a bag. This will also encourage natural scratching behaviour as they search for food.
Brassica vegetables are highly regarded for their nutritional value. The leaves from Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Swede and Turnip can all be used.
Potatoes (boil before feeding), pumpkins and winter squashes will store well for feeding during the winter. Pumpkin seeds are also a good natural wormer.
Corn, legumes, and small grains such as wheat, rye, oats and barley are easy to grow. Chickens like seeds from Squashes, Sunflowers and wild berries (e.g. berries from Pyracanthas, Hawthorn bushes and Rowan trees).
Chickens can be picky and may not eat everything. The leaves from carrots might be eaten but not the carrots. Sometimes cutting vegetables such as runner beans will help. Geese and ducks like comfrey. Duckweed can be grown in a small pond and used as chicken feed (either fresh or dried out).
With feed prices the way they are, cutting back on bought feed and saving money is a real option by growing as much feed as possible yourself. Substantial savings on bought feed can be achieved with a grow your own approach on allotments. As well as saving money on feed, the chickens will be healthier and lay delicious eggs.