|These huge sunflowers will each be about one third day's ration for our flock. They are a rich siurce of fat and protein. We will let them dry and then just toss the whole thing into the pen for them this winter.|
The plan is to try to grow most of our chicken's food, and get away from commercial feed products. Besides being expensive, these foods are all "dead" grains. It would be like you eating fortified cereal three times a day. You might get some vitamins and minerals and calories, but its not like real fresh food.
Growing their feed takes some infrastructure, and is a gradual process, but these foods will include things like sunflowers, oats, buckwheat, and corn, wich will be sprouted to increase its bioavailable nutrient content. . Live protein will be gotten from either mealworms or earthworms grown in a bin in the cellar. Unfortunately, this year's corn crop was mostly destroyed by wild turkey and deer. We hope to prevent that problem next year by fencing.
Chickens' natural diet is about 20% greens, which they get aplenty during the summer months. But how do we provide this kind of real food for them in the middle of winter?
I will sprout wheatgrass and other microgreens for them in the windòwsill, but I dont have enough space to grow all they need.
So this fall, I am taking some of the abundant harvest of kale, spinach, and chard, and dehydrating them. The resultant flakes of dry leaves can then be sprinkled over their other rations for a good nutritional boost.
By the way, it is this natural diet of greens and various insects that give eggs their deep orange colored yolks and rich flavor.
|Here two kinds of kale leaves are drying in a window screen on the front porch. I will run them through the dehydrator once they are mostly wilted, just to ensure they are really crispy dry for storage.|