I find that the cooler temps and shorter days bring out a desire to do things. In the summer there is so much to do but it is a miserable time to do it (at least here), conversely come fall things start tapering off just when it feels good to get out there and do things. Feeding chickens is one of those things that should be simple…right? Last winter and spring I decided that I wanted my chickens to forage for at least part of their diet. This article over at Paul Wheatons site was my inspiration and the foundation for my long term goals in regards to my chickens.
My flock took to the Fodder right away and currently I am producing a 10″x20″ tray every other day. I have discovered that Red Wheat is a much more vigorous sprouter than Barley. My process has evolved in the week and a half I’ve been doing this to where now I am soaking 2 cups of parrot sprout mix along with 1 cup of soybeans overnight, then putting a cup of Red Wheat and a cup of Barley on to soak the following night and finally layering them in a propagation tray on the second morning with the Barley/Wheat mixture on top. The parrot sprout mix I am using contains several different types of field peas, safflower, sunflower and vetch. Those grains along with the soy beans provide a very hardy larger sprout while the barley is supposed to be high in protein and the red wheats vigorous roots tie everything together into a tight puck that is easy to handle.
In addition to Fodder I am still actively foraging by proxy for my flock, at least twice a week they get left over cooked rice from a chinese restaurant and I still occasionally get vegetable prep from that same place. My sweety Karen has exotic birds, LOTS of exotic birds, and they are very wasteful of their feed. Rather than sweeping it up or dumping their cups in the trash she now keeps a 5 gallon bucket near which she fills with all of the chaff/seed/pellets they leave in their bowls or toss on the ground. This bucket gets topped off with leftovers and goes out to the chooks about twice a week. On top of this I keep a bucket of high protien pigeon feed fermenting in the coop for those slack days in my foraging efforts. To round out my Flocks nutrition needs I have an auto-feeder setup that is always full of a mix of Lay-pellets and Flock Raiser pellets.
When I moved this setup out of the area that I am trying to grow a chicken pasture in I lost the fancy trigger I ordered off of ebay for $4.99 and then had to pay $10 shipping to get it here from the UK. I had read somewhere that a teaspoon would work just as well and figured what the heck? Low and behold it worked just fine! The chickens go under the foraging table, peck at the “trigger” and out pops a few pellets. It did take a couple of tries to get the hole sized properly so that the feed didn’t just run out but would dump a reasonable amount when pecked.
Yeah I know my Chickens are spoiled……aren’t yours?