Having finally gotten my land clearer and some of my earthworks in place to deal with water flow as well as my pond in I am now turning some of my attention to growing food and plan to get chickens. As I have been planning and laying out my garden I've been looking into what I'll need to feed my chickens so that I can plant that as well as food for my family. I have found tons of information on what grown chickens like to eat but all my attempts to find out what to feed the chicks I will be getting have ended in chick starter. I was amazed to see that even here on permies that is what was recommended on the search I did! Perhaps I just didn't use the right search terms? idk. So my question is - What natural food can I feed my chicks and how should it be prepared? I am open to suggestions from knowledgeable people who raise chickens themselves regardless of if you have actually tried the method (though if you haven't actually done it please say so
). I really want to use a method that is sustainable without outside foods and supplements if at all possible. I will have to buy feed this first year or hold off getting chickens due to growing times and seasons because I am just now preparing my garden beds. I have already looked into getting only whole grains though so there won't be an issue with a food change. There will be a portion of the garden that the chickens will have exclusively for supplementing their feed the first year as well. They will have a HUGE supply of bugs of all types and sizes also, even field mice if they like them lol.
I know that many if not all animals usually can eat what the adults do once weaned (weaning doesn't apply to chickens obviously but the point is still valid) though often they must start out on it caught by the parent or "preprocessed" by them in some way. I'm thinking maybe chia, flax, millet, milo, and quinoa? Perhaps sprouted, fermented and/or processed in a food processor? I know oats and barley will likely be too tough unless cooked right? Maybe worms, crickets, grubs and ants either whole or processed? Would they need to be alive or dead? I know chickens peck at things too small for us to see as well so would a bedding of fertile earth from a forest floor covered in shavings help? I'm aware that whatever I put under the chicks must be very warm already before adding them. While I remember my grandfathers chicks being out and about at a very small size I have no idea how old they were when their mom brought them out of the little nest she hatched them in... I'm willing to either feed the first batch chick starter or get young adults but I do plan to breed chickens as well so will still need this info. We are very excited and looking forward to our new additions. Oh, they will be Buff Orpingtons btw, we were thinking 20-25 of the straight run and hoping to cull that down to 12 hens and a rooster. Thanks ahead of time to anyone with suggestions on the chick feed and feel free to offer up info you wish you had when you started as well lol!