Friday, December 23, 2011

Feeding table scraps to your poultry

Some ideas on feeding table scraps to your poultry.
Last year's hay price only averaged $70 a ton. This year's hay prices have exceeded $300 per ton and as a result feed costs have skyrocketed. With rising feed costs, I am on a constant lookout for alternative food sources for my livestock. I am planting my own alfalfa and other grasses that poultry graze on, as well as corn and other grain crops.
Table scraps that once went to the compost pile now go to the chickens.Crushed eggshells, stale bread, and trimmings from fruits and vegetables are a good supplement. Note; feeding eggshells to your poultry can take the place of oyster shell, but your poultry should not recognize it as an egg. If they recognize it as an egg they will begin to cannibalize their own eggs. The main thing you should never feed to your livestock is spoiled food. Bread with mold or other fungi could be fatal to the poultry. A good rule of thumb is; if it's good enough for you to eat, it's good enough for them, otherwise compost it.
My father related to me; During the Great Depression they would catch carp and other fish to feed to the chickens and turkeys. This was to supplement protein in their diet, but it had one drawback in that blood spots would show up in the eggs. As a result they would only do this for poultry being raised for meat production.

(revision 1-9- 2014)
There are a couple of foods that have come to my attention that should not be fed to chickens or livestock. Chocolate and onions which are poisonous to dogs are also toxic to other livestock. Potato sprouts are poisonous to people and animals and peels that may contain sprouts should not be fed to livestock. Anything that has to do with the nightshade family should be avoided altogether. Also keep in mind that things like asparagus, radishes, and other pungent plants although they may not be poisonous may taint the flavor of eggs being produced. Weeds such as cockle burrs and  loco weed should also not be fed to livestock as they are poisonous. Generally most poultry will not eat poisonous foods if other food sources are available. If this were not the case you would see a lot of dead wild birds. If your poultry is given the proper habitat and the proper foods the health of your birds should not be an issue.

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