Ordering and buying chicks is right around the corner for anyone who raises chickens for meat or to enjoy delicious farm fresh eggs. Having primarily raised Rhode Island Reds as layers, Cornish roosters and a mix of Banties, ducklings, and literally thousands of pheasants, I can tell you that replacing store bought feed with home-grown organically grown feed is cheaper and of course will provide a healthier alternative. If you have not already planned ahead and saved seed and feed from last year, for use as starter for young chicks, you can still plan for this summer.
Planting Poultry Packages and Extras
I plan to raise layers again this year, and to order the poultry package from Sustainable Seed Co. I also like to supplement my feed with fast and easy-to-grow zucchini and summer squash. Although I am a big fan of free range, it’s not always an option. Giving the birds plenty of room and something to peck at keeps them busy while reducing the risk of cannibalism. Starting extra plants of zucchini early in the spring makes it easy to toss one or two a day into the pen.
Chicken manure can be incorporated into the garden as it is a rich supply of nitrogen, although it can burn the soil if it isn’t composted first. Leftover hay or straw that has been used for bedding can also go into the compost pile. Let your chickens run free in the garden at the end of the season to cleanup any leftover produce.
The Poultry Package includes a variety of seed that can be used to replace commercial feed. It includes Trucker’s Dent corn, Golden Flax, milo (also referred to as grain sorghum), Ford Hook Chard, Connecticut Field Pumpkins, Montezuma Oats, and White Proso Millet to enable home gardeners to grow an abundant source of their own poultry food. It also includes Tobacco which can be made into a powder that is used for dusting mites, or sprayed onto the coop as a natural bug killer.
Raising your own chicken feed can be part of an organic and healthy lifestyle. One notable items that is included in this package is the golden flax, which contains the Omega 3’s that are popular for a healthy heart. The rich golden yolks develop their flavor and color from a variety of feed ingredients including pumpkin. By the way, do you know how to predict what color of egg shells your girls will lay? Look at their ear lobes, chickens such as the Rhode Island Red’s typically have brown ears and thus lay brown eggs, while birds with white ear lobes lay eggs with white shell. Buy one or two poultry packages to grow and save seed for next year. Maybe if you are lucky, you will end up with a hen who lays eggs with a double yolk in the process.