So I'd like to go get some buckeye chickens here within the neext few weeks. My issue is I want to feed the chickens whatever I can get from my land. With it being January I can't grow them food right now and I would assume most insects are gone right now. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I could feed them from the land at this time of year? I'm in southern Ohio.
Thanks for your help!
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If you have a woodpile, you can try poking around there for dormant bugs and seeds. As I bring wood in for the stove, I break off the bark and pile it up near the chickens so they can get at the grubs and beetles. Aside from that, they eat all my table scraps and a ration of bagged feed. If you're just starting out with chickens you may be shocked at how much they can eat. Having some bagged feed on hand will help give you an idea of how much it takes to "fill" a chicken up. As spring comes on, you'll notice that it takes less bagged feed to fill'em up as they are finding more food for themselves. Eventually you'll get a handle on it.
If you contrive to let your chickens run free, you will be surprised at what they can find for themselves, especially without snow and frozen ground. They will scratch and turn up all kind of bugs, worms, seeds, sprouts, etc. In a woodland setting I would guess they can easily find 1/3 of their diet....
They like squash, sweet potatoes, carrot, beet, cabbage family, obviously you are going to have to store them in a room or something.
I would also recommend that you kill a hundred or so and put them in the freezer and just leave/feed a few to restock your flock when spring season comes.
Are you going to get little chicks or big chickens?
If you are going to get big chickens, then they can get part of what they need from free-ranging, if there are not too many predators around. This spring you can plant alfalfa, grain, or whatever to make the foraging better.
Back when I free-ranged my chickens, I kept pellets out for them at the hen house. They much preferred to find their own food, but they would fill up any empty corners when they came in to sleep. I figured out one summer that they were eating 25 cents worth of feed for every dozen eggs laid, but that was a good year for bugs.
In the winter they did forage also, but they ate a LOT! of laying pellets because there was not nearly enough out there to forage. Chickens are native to the warmer areas of the world, where the summers are longer and so the bugs can be found most of the year. They also like grass, just as we like salad, but their isn't many calories in grass (or salad)
Here in central ohio I am feeding out a lot of chickweed,radish (chopped) there are persimmon trees nearby that are still dropping fruit, , the chickies seem to love that. ive been experimenting with feeding the fruits of ornamental crabs and cherries, and redbud which hold onto their fruit late into the winter, as well as callery pear. . . these plants are used primarily as landscaping trees in the city but they seem to be everywhere. Also, the random log in their runs that can be tipped over occasionally will have critters hiding for them to eat too. . especially when it's warm.
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