Chickens Diet: Alternative Feeding Options for Your Chickens

You could raise your chickens in garden spaces to plow and fertilize and provide them with free, organic, and healthy food. So do not worry about the amount of money you will spend to raise chickens properly. 

Chickens Diet: Alternative Feeding Options for Your Chickens
Chickens Diet: Alternative Feeding Options for Your Chickens

 You may also reduce the insect population while giving your flock free, healthy food by raising chickens to manage diseases in orchards and garden pests. Using the permaculture method implies that you can feed your flock of chickens without using any grains.

Why We Tried To Feed Chickens Grain Free

 When we started raising broilers, we bought commercial feed without thinking about what was in it. Eventually, we decided to buy feed classified as organic to ensure the health of our chickens and our family.

 Organic food triples our expenses, as we've discovered! We would spend more money raising hens organically than we would if we purchased organic meat from farmers' markets.

 We wanted to find a way to save money, so we began experimenting with what we fed the hens. Even mixing our own chicken feed was something we learned.

 Then we built a chicken tractor (and later I designed and built the chick pusher) to move the chickens to new grass every day. Moving the chickens only took about ten minutes of our time, and it reduced the daily feed for the chickens from ⅓ pound per day and per chicken to ⅒ pound per day.

 We chose to test the free-range method since we were so thrilled about the cost reductions. We did an experiment:

  • we raised two groups of chickens; free-range chickens and grain-fed chickens.
  • Result: we find that the group of free-range chickens weighed more than the group of grain-fed chickens.

 We have raised delicious organic free-range meat chickens and have been able to butcher our chickens for less than 67 cents a pound.

 Not everyone can freely raise their backyard chickens. You get manure everywhere and most people don't have room. An efficient stationary chicken coop design may work best in this case. Don't despair if you can figure it out, there are still plenty of other ways to feed chickens without using grain!

Can chickens survive without grain?

 The truth is, grain-free chickens can be healthy and productive layers. There are many inexpensive ways to feed chickens without grains.

 For the past 100 years, only grain has been fed to chickens. Prior to this, chickens were free range for their food. Chickens are amazing at foraging.

 Raising free-range hens has several advantages, one of which is that the eggs your family receives are more nutrient-dense. Eggs laid by Free-range chickens have one-third less cholesterol than eggs laid by grain-fed chickens and are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E.

 Free-range chickens are less destructive than penned chickens and have fewer boredom behaviors, including fighting each other. Also, their nails will be cut naturally by all the scratching they do outside of their coop.

Ways to feed grain-free chickens

 Feeding chickens grain-free is not only possible but relatively easy. Look for high-protein foods rich in vitamins and minerals; your herd will do well.


 Most farmers consider comfrey an invasive plant, but it is an excellent feed for your herd. comfrey contains a high amout of protein, fiber, potassium, sulfur, calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B12, A, and C. And Chickens adore comfrey also.

 Comfrey is high in nitrogen, so it's a great addition to your compost pile. Adding it will promote bacterial growth, which helps heat up your compost piles and speeds up the composting process.

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


 Nettles are another plant that is regarded as an invasive plant. This plant benefits your chickens in two ways: as food and medicine. Stinging nettle contains the minerals iron, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins K, B, and A. When dried, it has excellent protein characteristics.

 Moreover, stinging nettle includes lycopene, a potent antioxidant, and omega-3 oil, which is similar to that in sunflower seeds. Nettles are high in carotenoids, giving your eggs that beautiful dark yolk.

 Stinging nettle can be cultivated and gathered in the wild as well. Furthermore excellent for composting and mulching stinging nettle.

Pro-Tip: Dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, and lamb's quarters are further beneficial plants.

Grass and lawn clippings

 Fresh grass or lawn clippings can replace the chicken's feed for up to 20% of its diet. Fresh grass also contains insects that provide high-protein food for your herd. If you want a food that is rich in protein, iron, and vitamin C go for "grass".


 Your hens will thoroughly enjoy a haystack. Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of fiber and protein, and your hens will happily peck at it.

  Ryegrass, clover, fescue, and other grass are good sources of calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. Hay also helps keep glucose levels stable as it slows the absorption of sugar into the blood.


 Potatoes from your garden that are extra can be turned into very nourishing food for your chickens. You can cook the potatoes and cut them into small pieces before giving them to them. To make the potatoes easier for the chickens to eat

 Iron, potassium, and vitamins included in potatoes help with the growth of healthy bones. They also enhance fat absorption and have anti-inflammatory actions. Because they are low in cholesterol and abundant in potassium, potatoes help your herd's hearts stay healthy.

Pro Tip: The toxins solanine and chaconine, which are found in green potatoes, are poisonous to chickens. None of the green potatoes should be used.

Winter Squash

 Even at room temperature, winter squash preserves quite well. For a nutritious complement to your poultry diet all winter long, store them in a cool, dry area. Feed the squash to your chickens after cutting it in half. Kids will adore the squash flesh and seeds.

 Squash is rich in vitamin A, which helps the immune system work at its best. Chickens that lack vitamin A will get sick more often.

 Vitamin C is abundant in fruits and vegetables and is helpful in stressful conditions. Heat, cold, and other environmental conditions can stress chickens. They require a higher dose of vitamin C at this time. Squash also contains a lot of zinc, which is good for your herd's general growth and development.


 Chickens will love all kinds of berries. Blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, juneberries, and fall berries are all suitable for them. Because the berries are mushy, your chickens may easily eat them.

 Your chickens appreciate berries because they are delicious, much like a human likes sweet food. The berries' high fiber content and vitamin and mineral content are beneficial to your herd's digestive system.

 The berries contain vitamin that is important for healthy egg production. It is vitamin A. Give your laying hens a vitamin A-rich treat if you detect a decrease in egg output.

Forage or cereal crops

 Think about growing a grain crop just for your chickens. The excellent chicken feed includes sunflower, dent corn, alfalfa, clover, sorghum, amaranth, and buckwheat. These crops are abundant in fiber and protein.

 If you use cover crops to improve your soil, you should allow your chickens access to the harvested greens so they can eat them. Additionally, they will till the ground, which is a bonus.

Pro tip: Consider fermenting the grains you plan to feed your hens. Their health will significantly benefit from fermentation. Food that is a few days old should be covered in water in a bucket. It will be simpler to digest the next day. It will ferment after two or three days.

 Collect their daily ration and add more grain. Fermentation increases digestible nutrients in grains and provides immune-boosting probiotics. In addition, chickens eat 50% less fermented foods because they are denser and more filling.

Nut Trees

 Nut trees are an excellent food resource for chickens in the fall. Acorns, beech nuts, pecans, black walnuts, and hickory nuts are all suitable for chickens. Feed the nuts to your chickens after taking them and smashing them with a hammer. They'll cherish them.

Fruit Trees

 Plant fruit trees for yourself and use imperfect fruit for your hens. After picking fruit, bring it to them, and clean up any fallen fruit in the orchard with your hens to sterilize the area.

 By putting chickens in your orchard, when the pest infested fruit falls to the ground, they will gobble up the fruit and the pests. Additionally, placing your chickens in the orchard in early spring will eat the pests while they are still in the pupal stage and before the pests become a problem.

Pro Tip: Apples are fantastic for chickens, but you must first remove the seeds. The cyanide found in apple seeds can harm chickens.

Garden pests

 Feeding your hens garden pests is another example of how to transform a problem into a solution. Take a shallow pail of water and drop the beetles in it if you have pests in your garden. With water on them, they cannot fly.

Given the choice, chickens will always go for the bugs first, so they'll love this delicious treat.

Soldier fly larvae

 Black soldier flies resemble wasps in appearance. They only have a short lifespan, but they produce eggs that hatch into larvae that have a substantial amount of nutrition in a very small body. Protein, lipids, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals are found in soldier fly larvae.

 Create a specific container and load it with decaying produce. The soldier flies will lay their eggs, which you may collect and feed to your chickens as larvae. Your hens will flourish during the winter if you feed them soldier fly larvae.


 Many backyard farmers are new to vermicomposting. Vermicomposting uses earthworms to convert waste like rotting manure, cardboard, and newspapers into compost. This compost becomes an excellent fertilizer filled with worm droppings.

 An abundance of worms for your chickens to eat is an extra bonus. Feed the remainder of the worms to your chickens and only enough to allow them to breed in the compost.

Kitchen Scraps

 Food waste accounts for 16% on average of household trash. Why not give your chickens all the leftover food? You can turn your food leftovers into eggs and chicken meat by keeping a bucket in your kitchen.

Farm Products

 If you have chosen a breed of cow that is best suited for milking, chances are that even after using the split calf approach and milking your cow daily, you will still have extra milk.

 Give your chickens some milk to use for cereal or to drink straight from a bowl. Your hens will eat eggs whether they are cooked or raw, which may seem strange.

 Use any unused bones to make bone broth for your chickens if you have some. It is particularly calcium-rich and ideal for your layers.

In Conclusion: Foods you should not feed chickens

 Chickens are incredibly smart, and they typically avoid eating things they shouldn't. A list of things that are not suggested for chicken feed is provided below:

  • Uncooked rice – Cooked rice is fine, but uncooked rice will bloat and cause digestive issues.
  • Salty foods - Salty foods can cause hypernatremia, a problem with electrolytes.
  • Onions - Thiosulfate, which is included in onions, can make hens anemic and develop jaundice. It's a good idea to stay away from garlic and chives because They can have the same negative effects as onions when eaten in high quantities.
  • Citrus - Chickens are sensitive to citric acid from citrus fruits.
  • Chocolate - Chickens should avoid chocolate, candies, and all sugar as these can cause irregular heartbeats and even heart attacks in chickens.
  • Tomatoes – When tomatoes are unripe, they contain solanine and chaconine. These are toxic to chickens.
  • Moldy Foods - Because mold can produce toxins, it's preferable to avoid it. If the grains you're fermenting begin to mold, discard them.
  • Raw or dried beans – Any dry beans, especially kidney beans, are harmful for chickens. Dried beans contain a toxin named "hemagglutinin", it can be fatal to chickens.
  • Certain Flowering Plants – Certain flowering plants like lupine, foxglove, and holly can be toxic to your chickens. Lupine can result in mortality and a malfunctioning nervous system. Holly acts as a laxative and can induce vomiting. Foxglove contains a poison called foxglove, which slows the heart.
  • Rhubarb leaves – Rhubarb leaves contain anthraquinones which work as a laxative. They also contain oxalic acids, which can be lethal to chickens.
  • Avocado - Persin is a poison that can be found in avocado skin and pit. Persin might aggravate heart and pulmonary issues when consumed in big dosages.
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Islam Khennoucha

Islam Khennoucha is an Australian author and chicken farmer who has dedicated his life to the study and care of these fascinating creatures. He was born and raised in Algeria, where he developed a love for nature and animals, especially chickens. After moving to Australia, Islam purchased a farm where he could fulfill his passion for raising chickens.
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