The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homemade chick starter feed?

Australorp chick

Chick watererRather than braving the raging creek to carry in the milled grain we bought for our chicks, I've been tantilizing their budding appetites with hard-boiled eggs.  Technically, I could have just waited until the flood waters receded --- after all, chicks can go for three days without food or water after birth.  But they'd already figured out how to drink from their  chicken waterer within hours of landing in the brooder, so I figured they could handle some solids as well.

I can't help wondering whether we couldn't get chicks off to an even better start by feeding them real food for the first few weeks, while their appetites are small enough that the fancy foods won't break the bank (or wear us out foraging).  I've seen a mother hen pecking apart worms for her day old offspring, which makes me think animal products are the way to go.

What's your favorite homemade chick starter feed?  Have you ever raised chicks on non-storebought feed?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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First off, that picture is a beaut. I actually am growing to believe that arts, photography and writing included, can seriously improve with work and practice. This fact means a lot to me - it is what I hope I can achieve myself.

Secondly, I don't really like eating chicken. Do you believe blood types have anything to do with people's appetites for different kinds of meat.

Comment by Maggie Mon Mar 5 09:45:58 2012
That picture is cracking me up. He looks like he has a roman nose. Also, possibly, a bad attitude.
Comment by Heather Mon Mar 5 12:03:18 2012

Maggie --- Thanks for your kind words! Mark took that photo, but I totally agree that practice makes perfect. I know I honed my skills a lot with all of the writing I've done this year, and I've got a long way to go before they're really polished!

I'm not sure about blood types influencing whether you want to eat chicken, but I do know that how the chicken was raised and how you cook it have a huge influence on taste. Supermarket chicken with the skin removed is pretty much tasteless, in stark contrast to chickens that have eaten lots of bugs and greenery, which imbues their fat with a rich, delicious flavor (as long as you leave the skin on.)

Heather --- I know, he does look a bit pissy. :-) That white spot on the end of his nose is his egg tooth, used for chipping his way out of the shell.

Comment by anna Mon Mar 5 14:06:14 2012
So, you are feeding the chicks hard boiled eggs? I have never heard of that before, where did you get the idea? What other homemade chick foods could you feed them?
Comment by Brian Tue Mar 6 09:14:12 2012

Brian --- I'm not sure where I read that originally, but I just saw it again in a turn of the twentieth century poultry manual. They were recommending feeding chicks hard-boiled eggs and soaked bread as part of their ration for the first three days.

Our chicks loved their eggs (the yolks more than the whites) for the first day and a half, but when I carried in the grain, they liked that too. So we're taking the easy route at the moment.

Comment by anna Tue Mar 6 16:31:06 2012
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 7 14:46:00 2012
:-) Strangely enough, chickens seem to thrive on cannibalism. That's why I always roll my eyes when I read the labels on fancy eggs that promise their chickens ate a vegetarian diet --- healthy chickens need animal protein, whether it's bugs or beef (which is what many old timey books recommend).
Comment by anna Wed Mar 7 16:50:56 2012
Since other individuals of the same species use the same food sources, cannibalism probably make sense in multiple ways (for omnivores); it reduces the competition, and the "food" is probably already in a usable form.
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 7 18:42:13 2012
I think cannibalism is a tradeoff --- excellent quality food, but also a high risk of disease. So don't you go trying it! :-)
Comment by anna Wed Mar 7 18:53:44 2012
i think the poop-free water is a great idea guys. love, henrietta
Comment by henrietta Sat Mar 9 18:59:17 2013

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