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When looking through the Encyclopedia of Country Living, I found guidelines for making your own chick feed. I decided to try my hand at making my own feed since we have an old grain grinder in the garage. The basics to a chick diet are finely ground corn, oats, and wheat, a protein source, and greens. Their diet needs to be 20% protein. Protein can come from fish meal, meat meal, small portion of canned cat food, chopped hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, clabbered milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, or bugs, or a combination of. The more variety the better. Greens, such as alfalfa meal or leaves, clover lettuce, dandelion, cress, chives, grass, spinach, finely chopped weeds, supply many of their vitamins like Vitamin A. Young chicks need ground eggshells or oyster shells for calcium, unless there is another source of calcium. Chicks can become picky about what they eat so keep it changing if you can.
Basics: 2 parts grain, 1 part protein, 1 part greens.
I picked up a bag of oats when we picked out the chicks. We had plenty of corn for the cows, and we had left over milk replacer from calves and lambs. For the first batch, I chose the milk replacer to fill the calcium and vitamin source. There weren't a whole bunch of chicks the first time, so I wanted something easy. I ground the oats and corn as fine as I could. I ground in large batches and measured out what I needed. I then did 2 parts grain to 1 part milk replacer. I would then bring in some weeds and shred them into the feed tray. As soon as the days were warm enough and the chicks moving good, I opened the chick door to the outdoor pen. I also started only refilling their feed at night to train them to come in at dusk.
As the chicks became about a month old, I coarsely ground the grain, and mixed in fine ground eggshells for calcium, reducing the milk replacer to ½ part. They were also out eating bugs and weeds at that point, so I did not feed as much protein.
Around a month and a half I started giving them the scraps of fruit and veggies the kids didn’t finish, or left over peels from the kitchen. They also come to the call of “here Chick-Chick” because food is usually coming! As they grow into layers I will continue with about the same ration. They will be free ranging most of the day, so the grain is mostly a treat to get them to come in at night and lay eggs in the coop.
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