Just like humans, chickens need a balanced diet to keep them happy and healthy. So what can you grow to keep your feathered flock content? And maybe even sneak onto your own plate?
By mixing up your poultry’s feed, you’re not only giving them a better diet, you’ll also receive higher quality eggs in return. Chickens can eat a range of leafy greens, weeds, vegie scraps and even some plants suitable for human diets, too. One good example is nasturtiums. Not only do they look pretty in the garden, they get the chicken feed tick of approval, and the flowers can be added to salads or used to decorate dishes or cakes.
Chickens also make handy cleaners, gobbling up kitchen scraps (such as oats, broccoli, apple cores) but just remember you cannot feed them avocado, rhubarb, garlic or anything heavily processed. Chickens are social animals, so feeding time is a group exercise. Make sure that dominant birds aren’t pushing out the younger or weaker birds.
If you love chickens, be sure to check out part two of our chook special in the March issue. Host of Gardening Australia TV, Costa Georgiadis, traces his own love of chooks back to his childhood visits to his grandparents’ home, and talks about the valuable lessons that kids learn from keeping chooks at home. We’ve also put together a comprehensive chook care chart, plus tips for growing a steady year-round supply of fresh greens for your hard working hens. There’s also a great story from a reader about a very special hen.