Feeding grain-free chickens - cut costs by 100% - permaculture abounds (2023)

also foruse of chickens to control garden pests and diseases in orchards, you can control the pest population while providing natural and free food for your livestock. Feeding chickens without grain is whatUsing the Permaculture Approach for Poultry Parvadais about.

Feeding grain-free chickens - cut costs by 100% - permaculture abounds (1)

Why We Try Feeding Chickens Grain Free

when do we startchicken farming, we buy commercial food without thinking about what was in it. Eventually, we decided to buy feed that is classified as organic to ensure the health of our chickens and our family.

We found that organic food tripled our costs! It would cost us more to raise chickens organically than to buy organic meat at farmers markets. We had to do something to cut costs, so we started experimenting with feeding our chickens.

us firstbuilt a chicken tractor(and then, I drew andbuilt the girl) to move chickens to new pasture daily. Moving the chickens only took about ten minutes of our time and reduced the chickens' daily feed from ⅓ pound per day per chicken to ⅒ pound per day.

We were so excited about the cost savings that we decided to try the free field system. We did an experiment creating a group of free-range chickens and a group of chickens on grain, and we were surprised to find that the free-range chickens ended up weighing more.

We raised delicious free-range chickens with organic meat and were able toslaughter our chickensat less than 67 cents a pound.

Not everyone can freely raise their backyard chickens. You get manure everywhere, and most people don't have the space. ONEefficient stationary cooperative designmight work better in this case. Don't despair if you can relate, there are still plenty of other ways to feed chickens without using grain!

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Can chickens survive without grain?

The truth is, grain-free chicken can be healthy andproductive laying hens🇧🇷 There are many ways to feed chickens cheaply and without grain.

Chickens have only been fed grain for the past 100 years. Prior to that, chickens were free-range. Chickens are extraordinary at foraging.

Raising free-range chickens has many benefits, including producing more nutritious eggs for your family. Free-range eggs have a third less cholesterol than grain-fed eggs and are higher in vitamins A, E and omega-3s.

Free-range chickens are less destructive than caged chickens and engage in fewer behaviors out of boredom, including fighting with each other. Also, their nails will naturally cut from all the scratches they make outside the coop.

Ways to feed chickens without grains

Feeding grain-free chickens is not only possible, but relatively easy. Look for feeds that are high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, and your herd will be fine.


Most farmers consider comfrey an invasive weed, but it makes excellent food for your livestock. Chickens not only love it, but they are also rich in protein, vitamins B12, A and C, potassium, sulfur, calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and fiber.

Comfrey is high in nitrogen, making it a great addition to your compost pile. Its addition will encourage bacterial growth, which helps heat the compost piles and speeds up the composting process.


Order comfrey online, plant it in a fertile hole, and harvest it eight times a year, cutting it to two inches.


Another plant considered an invasive weed is nettle. This plant is edible and medicinal for your chickens. Nettle contains vitamins K, B and A, iron, manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium. When dry, it has excellent protein properties.

Nettle also contains omega-3 oil, much like that found in sunflower seeds, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Nettles are rich in carotenoids, which gives eggs that beautiful dark yolk.

Nettle grows in the wild and can also be planted and harvested. Stinging nettle is also excellent for mulching and composting.

professional advice: other beneficial weeds include dandelion, burdock, cow's tongue and lamb's quarters.

Grass and grass clippings

Fresh grass or grass clippings can replace chicken feed for up to 20% of the chicken's diet. Fresh grass also contains insects which are a high protein food for your flock. The herb is rich in protein, iron and vitamin C.


Your chickens will love a bale of hay. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of fiber and protein, and your chickens will happily peck at it.

Hay usually contains various types of grasses, including ryegrass, clover and fescue, and legumes. These grasses are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as calcium and iron. Hay also helps to keep the glucose level stable as it slows down the absorption of sugar in the blood.

animal carcasses

Why not turn a problem into a solution? If you have a predator that gives you trouble, catch or shoot it and feed it to your chickens. Chickens are omnivorous and meat helps meet their protein needs.

Cut the carcass so the chickens have access to the inside. Chickens peck at meat and soft tissue and leave bones behind, so remove the carcass after a few days and before it rots.


Another great thing to do with an annoying or run over predator is to make a bucket of worms. Suspend a bucket with ⅜-inch holes drilled from a wooden tripod. Put the meat inside. As the meat decomposes, flies enter the holes and lay their eggs. The larvae will hatch and fall through the holes.

Worms are rich in protein, fat and amino acids, and your chickens will gobble them up.


If you live on a farm, you have mice. Again, chickens are omnivores and enjoy a meaty snack. Be sure to avoid using rat poison as your chickens will eat a rat when given the chance.

Rats are high in protein, and because their bones are relatively small, the chicken also eats them, giving them a significant calcium boost to make their shells hard.

(Video) RAISING HENS WITH NO GRAIN. Some thoughts...


If you have extra potatoes in your garden, they can become highly nutritious food for your chickens. Cook and cut the potatoes before feeding them to the chickens to make them easier to eat.

Potatoes contain vitamins, potassium and iron, which help build strong bones. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and improve fat absorption. Potatoes are high in potassium and low in cholesterol, helping your herd to have strong heart health.

professional advice: Green potatoes contain the toxins solanine and chaconine, which are poisonous to chickens. Do not use any part of the green potatoes.

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Pumpkin keeps very well, even at room temperature. Store them in a cool, dry chicken place for a healthy addition to your chickens' feed all winter long. Cut the pumpkin in half and feed it to the chickens. They will love the pumpkin seeds and pulp.

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which helps the immune system to function at its best. Chickens with a lack of vitamin A get sick more often.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, which helps in stressful situations. Chickens can be stressed by heat, cold, and other environmental factors. During these times, they need more vitamin C. Pumpkin is also rich in zinc, which helps with the overall growth and development of your herd.


Chickens will love all kinds of berries. They can eat blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, June berries and autumn berries. The berries are soft, making them easy for chickens to eat.

The berries attract their young because they are sweet, like candy to a human. The berries are packed with vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber, which is good for your flock's digestive system.

The berries are also rich in vitamin A, which is necessary for good egg production. If you notice a drop in egg production, consider giving your laying hens a high vitamin A treat.

Forage or grain crops

Consider planting a grain crop just for your chickens. Sunflowers, sweet corn, alfalfa, clover, sorghum, amaranth and buckwheat make excellent chicken feed. These crops are rich in protein and fiber.

If you are building up your soil through cover crops, allow your chickens to come in and eat the leftover greens after harvest. The advantage is that they will also cultivate the land.

(Video) FREE chickens, FREE food!

professional advice: If you are going to feed your chickens grain, consider fermenting it. Fermentation will provide a huge boost to your health. Take a bucket and cover a few days' worth of food with water. After a day it will be easier to digest. After two or three days it will be fermented.

Withdraw your daily ration and add more grain. Fermentation increases the digestible nutrients in the grains and provides probiotics that boost the immune system. In addition, chickens eat 50% less fermented feed because it is denser and more satiating.

walnut trees

Walnut trees are a great food resource for chickens in the fall. Chickens can eat acorns, beech nuts, walnuts, black walnuts and walnuts. Take the nuts, break them with a hammer and feed them to the chickens. They will love you.

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Fruit trees

Plant fruit trees for yourself and use the imperfect fruit for your chickens. They will eat persimmons, blackberries, apples, peaches and pears. Pick the fruits and take them with you or put your chickens in the orchard after the harvest to clean the fallen fruits and sanitize your orchard.

When placing chickens in your orchard, when the pest infested fruit falls to the ground, they will devour the fruit and the pests. Also, if you put your chickens out in the garden in early spring, they will eat the pests while they are still in the pupal stage and before the pests become a problem.

professional advice: apples are great for chickens, but you need to remove the seeds first. Apple seeds contain cyanide, which kills chickens.

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garden pests

Again, turn a problem into a solution by feeding your chickens garden pests. If you have pests in your garden, get a shallow bucket of water and drop the beetles into the water. They cannot fly with water on them.

Given the choice, chickens will always attack the bugs first, so they'll love this tasty treat.


If you have a pond on your property, why not fill it with fish for your family? Fish is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world for humans and chickens. Your chickens can eat the leftovers or you can collect the fish just for them.

Fish can meet the high protein requirements of chickens while providing much-needed amino acids; the probiotics found in fish work perfectly with the chicken's digestive system biome.


Another benefit of having a pond is the ability to harvest duckweed. Duckweed can become a problem in a pond, so collect it, let it dry, and then feed it to your chickens. Dried lentils contain 40% protein, making them one of the highest protein foods.

soldier fly larvae

Soldier flies look like wasps but are black. They only live a few days, but they lay eggs that hatch into larvae that pack a lot of nutrients in a small package. Soldier fly larvae contain protein, fat and many other vitamins and minerals.

(Video) Growing our own chicken feed for free, without work or inputs.

Build a specialized container and fill it with rotten vegetables. The soldier flies will lay their eggs and you can harvest the larvae for your chickens. Soldier fly larvae are an excellent food to help your chickens thrive through the winter.

on my blog,"Let the soldier flies come"I show you how I built mine:


Many backyard farmers are discovering vermicomposting. Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn waste such as rotten manure, cardboard and newspapers into compost. This compost makes an excellent fertilizer filled with earthworm humus.

The added benefit is plenty of worms to feed your chickens. Just leave enough worms in the compost for them to reproduce and feed the rest to your chickens.

kitchen scraps

On average, 16% of household waste consists of food waste. Why not feed all the leftovers to the chickens? Keep a bucket in your kitchen and turn your food scraps into eggs and chicken meat.

Agricultural products

If you chose onebreed of cow that is best for milking, chances are even after using the calf split approach andmilk your cow daily,you will still have extra milk.

Reserve the milk for your chickens to drink straight from a bowl or add it to the grains. Interestingly, your chickens eat raw or hard-boiled eggs.

Chickens eat the leftover meat of slaughtered animals. If you slaughter a cow and don't plan on eating the heart or tongue, feed it to your chickens or add it to the bucket of worms.

If you have bones that you aren't using, use them to make bone broth for your chickens. It is exceptionally rich in calcium and perfect for layering eggs.

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Foods You Shouldn't Feed Chickens

Chickens are extremely intelligent; in general, they don't eat things they shouldn't eat. However, below is a list of items that are not recommended for chicken feed. Remember not to add these items to your compost pile if your chickens eat them.

  • raw rice– Cooked rice is fine, but raw rice will bloat and cause digestive problems.
  • salty foods– Salty foods can cause hypernatremia, an electrolyte problem.
  • onion– Onions contain thiosulphate, which can cause jaundice and anemia in chickens. It's also a good idea to avoid chives and garlic. Eaten in significant amounts, they can cause the same problem as onions.
  • citrus fruits– Chickens are sensitive to the citric acid in citrus fruits.
  • Chocolate– Chickens should avoid chocolate, sweets and all sugar as they can cause irregular heartbeats and even heart attacks in chickens.
  • Tomatoes– When tomatoes are not ripe, they contain solanine and chaconine. These are toxic to chickens.
  • comic mofada– Mold can develop toxins, so it's best to stay away from it. If you are fermenting grains, discard them if they become moldy.
  • Raw or dried beans– All dried beans are dangerous for chickens, especially kidney beans. Dried beans contain hemagglutinin, a toxin that can be fatal to chickens.
  • some flowering plants– Certain flowering plants like lupine, foxglove and holly can be toxic to your chickens. Lupine can cause nervous system failure and death. Holly acts like a laxative and can cause vomiting. Foxglove contains a poison called digitalis, which slows down the heart.
  • rhubarb leaves– Rhubarb leaves contain anthraquinones that work as laxatives. They also contain oxalic acids, which can be fatal to chickens.
  • Avocado– The skin and pit of avocados contain a toxin called persin. In large doses, persin can cause respiratory and heart problems.

Ready to get started?

download myprintable worksheeton how to do each of these alternative feeding methods.

If you liked this article, you'll love my most popular Youtube video atHow I Feed My 30 Chickens on $1.25 a Day.

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