Question: Feeding chickens through tough times..disasters.. : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am trying to make some preperations in the event our nation would get into a serious situation with economic depression/war/terrorism, etc. About caring for chickens.... If we could not obtain the normal feed to give our chickens a well balanced diet what one grain would be the best thing to use to help our flocks survive and maintain health? (In addition to free range). I normally try to stock up on laying mash for the winter and mix in about 1/3 cracked corn. My chickens run at large in the winter whenever there is not total snowcover or extreme cold. I have wondered what I would do if we had a situation like the great depression. I wish I had some wheat planted. Any suggestions?

-- Renee at Briar Creek (, November 25, 2001


I would say corn would be the highest on my list,, then dry cat food

-- stan (, November 25, 2001.

There's an old thread on this somewhere. I remember reading about feeding them roadkill in the depression era.

-- Anne (, November 25, 2001.

Corn is probably the best if you had to cut back to one. Wheat is good, but harder to come by and more expensive.

-- Nan (, November 25, 2001.

Let the chickens out to free range. They will scratch for bugs, seed, young grasses and anything else that looks good to eat(fence in your garden)! be sure to lock them back up at night if you have predators lurking.

-- westbrook (, November 25, 2001.

for calcium if you couldn't get oyster shells:

you don't want to feed chicken ground up chicken shells, or they might eat their eggs....but chicken shells are an excellent source of calcium. for people, you can peel the inside skins out of the shells, let them dry, and then grind them up, and then soak this in apple cider vinegar for 2-6 weeks, shaking daily. when they are done, you strain the vinegar off the shell, and you take some of this vinegar every day. my guess would be you could give this apple cider vinegar tincture of the egg shell to the chickens every day for added calcium, without fear of them eating the eggs. I would add it to the mash.

-- marcee (, November 25, 2001.

We always dry our eggshells, crush them, then feed them back to the chickens. The key words are 'dry' and 'crush'. If you don't make sure they are dry, they will smash, but not crush. I believe if chickens are fed large pieces of moist eggshell, they may indeed tend more toward eating eggs. I accumulate eggshells in a container on the counter, about 2 quart size. When it is very full, I just put the shells on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven on very low heat, or after baking something I turn the oven off, and pop in the eggshells to take advantage of the residual heat. When dry, just drop them into any spare bag and step on them a few times. Then finish by crushing them through the bag, with your fingers. In the summer I just put the wet shells on a cookie sheet out in the sun for a day.

-- Dianne Wood (, November 25, 2001.

I have been reducing my chicken feed bill by giving my small flock of cluckers as much mustard green as they will eat, and they eat plenty! They will, in fact, leave fresh pellets or corn to eat the greens. Here in North Florida, mustard grows like a weed. I let it go to seed and have more than I can use or the chickens can eat. Chickens will definately eat roadkill. I used to live next to a heavily travelled rural road and it was common to see chickens clustered around a dead racoon or possum acting for all the world like a flock of vultures! How old the roadkill is doesn't bother them, either. Kind of put me off of poultry products for awhile.

-- john james (, November 26, 2001.

Would road kill or cat food affect the flavor of the eggs?

-- Renee at Briar Creek (, November 26, 2001.

Renee, yes. Roadkill would affect the flavour of the eggs. The more protein they get, the better the eggs will be. Of course, there is a chance they will pick up salmonella, and it will get into the eggs. Nothing you can do about that, though - just happens with chickens. Just be careful to cook well - eggs or chicken.

I've read instructions that say to hang a liver up in a net bag, so the hens can eat the maggots that drop off it after it becomes fly- blown. Not my thing - I can't see wasting good liver that way. Road- kill might be a different matter.

Things they eat can affect the flavour of the eggs, but it will be vegetation that does it, and less so than with milking animals. I can't tell you what - you've got different vegetation than me - but if it happens then look at what's around (and maybe taste it), and you can probably identify what's doing the damage.

-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (, November 27, 2001.

Aside from corn (oats or other small grains rank second, however don't feed very much wheat or rye as these will form a dough ball inside the birds if given a lot, & avoid feeding raw rice (small amounts are OK) as this will absorbe water inside the birds and cause the birds to be dehidrated of puff up so much they die) or cat food (meat scraps, & road kill can carry disease), the best source of protien is bugs. You can start some worm beds (worm caseings for the garden & worms for your birds or fishing). You can also build a bug tank (like a large fish tank with a screen on top), ad some chopped straw or wood shavings for the bugs to craw in, a cardboard egg carton stood on end for breeding beds, some crickets (meal worms are also good)from a local bait shop (unless you want to go hunting for them), and some food scraps (bread, etc... ask bait shop what they feed) and you should be set. Just offer your birds some fresh (live) bugs or worms every once in a while to supplement anything else you feed them. This will entice them to hunt for more bugs while on range then before. Bait shops can tell you how to care for the various types of bugs they sell, or put you in touch with their sources (bug farms) so they could tell you how to care for the bug of your choice.

Good luck


-- animalfarms (, November 27, 2001.

I've learned a lot! Thank you to everyone for your input. Renee

-- Renee (, November 28, 2001.

chickens will eat anything but they are surpased by ducks in this situation turnips/potatoes not good enough for human food can be cooked wheat or corn can be sprouted to increase food value anything edible will do acornswere used in ww2 in england reported to turn the whites pink . i stoped eating liver several years ago and just toss the livers to the chickens i have also fed the ofals from butchering fryers or rabbits to th chickens even there ducks work better especialy all depends on your time and its value during the depresion dad told about an old man who would go out every day with his pocket knife and cut a bucket of wheat heads from the covercrop for the hens ,but corn is so cheep wheat too from the elevators if you buy in any bulk,that you cannot spend much time on alternative feeds an example is the increasing use of corn burning stoves its so cheep you can burn it for heat!

-- george darby (, November 29, 2001.

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