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Getting Started - Feeding Poultry at Home

by User Not Found | Mar 21, 2013

getting started poultry at home

Eggs, eggs, eggs....

It's this time of the year again! Our hens start laying what we hen keepers like most: fresh free range eggs, full of goodness, great for breakfast. There’s nothing more exciting than finding that first egg in the nest box, picking it up and feeling the warmth of it in your hands.... It's the simple pleasures in life that count!

So, if you start this wonderful, useful, relaxing hobby (watching your hens scratching around and going about their business is a great de-stresser, try it yourself!), you might like to know the essentials about feeding your hens to keep them healthy and happy.

Adult hens need 1 pound (125g) of feed per day. When free ranging in your back garden, they will eat worms, slugs, leaves, herbs, seeds and lots of grass. Grass gives the egg yolks a deep yellow, nearly orange colour which makes them look so appetising. 
Chicken Coop
To make sure your hens get the right balance of proteins, carbs, vitamin, minerals and fibre, it is a good idea to feed them a good quality, ready made poultry feed mix. This way you can make sure your chooks will always get all required nutrients to lay fresh eggs.

Formulated hen feed is usually made of crushed wheat, barley, oats, maize and a protein source, i.e. soya. You can choose between layers pellets or layers mash. There are advantages for both types of feed. When feeding pellets, you might find that the hens waste less food. On the other hand, pecking at layers mash will keep your hens entertained for hours.

Of course, you can give your hens the occasional treat: fresh fruit and vegetables from your garden, or some freshly cooked plain pasta, rice or potatoes. In the evening time, the hens like having a handful of grain. Grain takes a long time to digest and a full crop will help to keep your hens feeling nice and warm during the night.
Tamara with her Chickens

To digest, hens need little stones (grit) or crushed oyster shells (these contain calcium which is good for strong egg shells) to grind the food in the stomach. They always need some of it in their belly, otherwise they might get an upset tummy!

Not so good for hens are rhubarb, tomato, pepper, aubergine and potato leaves. Also don't feed them raw dry beans, raw peanuts and sweet peas.

If you want to offer your hens a vitamin boost, here's a recipe for highly nutritious wheat sprouts: Soak 2-3 handfuls of wheat grains in warm water for about 24 hours. Keep them slightly watered for a few days and rinse them once a day. As soon as you see the sprouts, feed to your chooks as a great spring treat. Presto!

Best of luck with feeding those chickens!

Tamara.



If you have a questions for Tamara be sure to comment below, on our Facebook page or Twitter.  We look forward to further blog posts from Tamara in the future. Be sure a check out our in store poultry promotions.


Tamara Zieglers Biog


Tamara originally came to Ireland in 2004, with the intention of spending a gap year here and began working as a job coach for people with learning difficulties. One day a young man with Down Syndrome, with whom she worked, shared with her his wish ”to work on a farm".  This wish took Tamara to work on a beautiful organic farm overlooking Wicklow Town and the sea, where she experienced harvesting of onions and potatoes on a glorious sunny autumn day, the cattle mooing happily on the fields and the little black farm dog jumping around the yard in playful excitement. After a few weeks the young man realised farm work was "too much” for him, but from that time on Tamara was hooked on all things farming! So, hooked, she decided on a career change and completed a Certificate for Organic Horticulture with the Organic College in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick. Since completing the course Tamara has worked on different organic farms, growing vegetables, planting trees, weeding, looking after sheep, pigs and cattle. While she was working one of the farms a chicken coop builder came along and made a deal with Tamara. She was  "to raise 400 chickens” which he would buy back and sell with his chicken coops. However, he never came back. So Tamara suddenly had 400 pet chickens and obviously couldn't keep them all. In desperate need of a spot to sell from she went to the Glanbia’s CountryLife store in Ashford and asked could she sell her chickens there. She was allowed to do so, and that's how she became a "chicken whisperer" - with people from Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford coming to Ashford to buy chickens and ask for all kinds of advice on keeping hens. Looking for some information on keeping chickens? Well Tamara is your woman! Call into Glanbia CountryLife in Ashford for her first-hand advice.

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