In my last post, I mentioned that I don’t feed my girls commercial layer food, but rather make my own feed out of grains. Someone commented to ask what my recipe is, and I thought I would make a quick post about it – just in case anyone else is curious!
It’s really not much of a recipe! Since the Girls get to forage for bugs and greens on their own, I simply give them a mixture of about 70% wheat and 30% oats. I tried adding kelp into the mix, but they wouldn’t eat it, so I stopped. They say that hens “need” to eat the balanced layer food, but I’m skeptical. Wild chickens don’t get layer food, and they have managed to survive! I think grains are more natural, than processed soy and GMO corn (which is in most of the layer mixes.) And like I said, the Girls are large and healthy, but not at all fat. And their feathers are lovely and glossy, which is a sure sign they’re getting enough good stuff in their diet. And even though they are three years now, and supposedly they are getting past laying age, they are still laying wonderfully in the summer. They don’t lay in the winter, but I also don’t believe in forcing winter laying by putting lights in their coop.
And while I’m talking about feathered beasties, it seems that the quail formerly known as “Amelia Peabody” is now going to have to change his name to “Emilio Peabody”.
Yup. This little mystery white quail is all grown up…and crowing. Good thing I can keep more than one male quail in my size of coop, because I really like her…er…him.
The idea the chickens need layer food is definitely a myth. During the depression lots of chickens survived on scraps and what they could forage. And how did the creatures ever survive before they had layer food? They ate seeds, grasses, and weeds, bugs, worms, mice and snakes. I remember reading an old pioneering story where one of the jobs of a young boy of 8 or 9 was to take a .22 and shoot a wild rabbit or a couple of squirrels every morning to feed to the chickens. Chickens will do just fine as long as they have the right wild or domesticated foods they need.
Absolutely! Chickens are fierce predators – they will eat anything they can catch.
By following the natural “in season, out of season’ of laying, you are probably extending the lives of your birds and their laying capability. And soy and corn are not natural foods for chickens. They are living the life! And Hello little Emilio!
That’s exactly what I think! I like to give my Girls natural chicken lives, as much possible.
What do you make for your quail to eat? I found through your link to the holistic hen that she uses triticale for protein and wondered how much to use… This has been so educational. I’m sorry for the rampant reading and commenting but as you have so astutely observed, it is ridiculously hard to find others raising quail naturally/organically out there – hence my enthusiasm!! It’s so exciting you are in my vicinity, as well. Right now I am using Scratch & Peck’s organic Naturally Free line, because that has no corn and no soy in it! The cross-contamination in GMO corn and soy is a real problem so I’d rather go without. The price ended up being cheaper for me than making a “balanced” feed recipe for chickens. It seems from reading that we have a lot of things in common. I’m a huge fan of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. as well/raising animals to enhance their native qualities and love pretty much everything I’m reading… 😉 I’ll go be quiet now…
Figuring out a natural diet for the quail is on my list of things to do. Right now, I’m just cobbling together their food. I feed them a (very non-healthy I’m sure) Gamebird Maintenance crumbles. It’s only 12% protein, but they also get a ton of greens, sprouted seeds, worms, and canary/finch seed mix. I also experimented with growing millet for them in my garden last year, and it was super easy, so this year, I’ll be doing a larger lot of millet. Plus, since they are outside on dirt, they eat whatever they can catch/find in their runs. Spiders and millipedes seem to be particular favorites. For the chickens, I feed only a mixture of whole grains, plus greens, scraps, and free-range, so I hope to figure out a grain/seed mix for the quail so I can stop feeding the processed crumbles. I’m not very scientific about figureing out what’s what…I tend to judge my success by the health of the animal. The chickens, since I stopped processed feed, have been incredibly healthly. I had a chicken with various health problems including reoccuring prolapse of the vent, and she’s not had a problem since I switched out her food. Their feathers are glossy, they’re super active, and at going on 5 years, they still lay eggs and don’t have any age related problems. The quail I know would prefer to drop the crumbles from their diet. They only eat it if they run out of the other foods. I think the Scratch and Peck food is good stuff, but my girls would only eat a few of the grains, and they’d leave the rest behind. I think they are probably spoiled rotten!