Raising Chickens Organically
August, 2014 · By Coryanne Ettiene
It would seem that the latest accessory in home kitchens is farm fresh eggs, and for the last 3 years I have yearned to hold one in my hands and experience the joy that comes from a freshly laid egg collected right from our backyard. I always thought we would have hens that would perch on our laps, eat from our hands and run towards us when we approached, but what we got was so much more. 3 weeks ago we adopted 2 Golden Lakenvelder hens from a family that was concerned that the older hens were not giving them a chance to thrive. We were warned that they were anti-social, scrawny and a tad feisty …..but we embraced them the moment we saw Margeaux’s heart melt and set about giving our second hand coop a make over with melon orange paint, a flashy new roof ideal for the Texas heat and a homemade feed that would soon have them eating from our hands. We expected eggs in November, but while I sat in my office working I heard them squawk for the first time in 3 weeks, and discovered a tiny cream egg laying in the hay. Golden Lakenvelder are know for laying small eggs, and this first egg is the perfect specimen. Shiny, smooth, almost radiant it offers this unexpected joy that I anticipated….. and so much more.
Our learning curve of raising chickens is steep, but we are lucky enough to be surrounded by coops and neighbors all too happy to share their experience with us. As I write this, I feel like I need to pass out some sort of birth announcement followed by a round of champers to thank them for all their advice and encouragement over the last 3 weeks. (note to self: I feel rather like I’m giving an acceptance speech… ). In addition to all their advice, I’ve been pinning like mad, soaking up every last detail about raising chickens organically. Among the best advice I’ve found is on creating organic chicken feed from items easily found at the grocery store. I have no doubt that our chicken feed is responsible for helping them grow and laying eggs weeks before they were due.
Alex’s Organic Chicken Feed
Place the bigger pieces into a food processor and blitz them for a 2 -3 seconds just to chop them ever so slightly, then mix all the ingredients together before storing in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
- 4 cups steel cut oats
- 4 cups whole wheat grains
- 2 cups millet
- 2 cup green lentils
- 2 cups flax seeds
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/8 Cup brewer’s yeast
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup of poppy seeds
- Egg shells
A batch of this lasts us a week with our 2 hens. I’m sure it would last longer, but like me, they like to play with their food so the feed is everywhere thanks to the (I see now why that would never work in real life) DIY feeding pipe we made after we saw it on Pinterest. Buying the ingredients in bulk makes it cheaper than buying regular chicken feed, plus we know that they are getting organically fed with whole ingredients. In addition to the organic feed, they feast like royalty because all of our scraps go their way. They say that chickens love strawberries and melon, but ours love cauliflower and papaya.
While our pipe feeder was an epic fail, it was fun creating it, and I hardly think that I will be knitting any hen hats this winter (or will I?). Regardless, I’ve so enjoyed pinning to my new Backyard Chickens Board and learning everything I can about raising chickens organically. I have so much to learn, I can imagine that this board will soon become my new favorite place to pin.