Feeding chickens food scraps

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Hi, I've been a lurker on this forum for some time and have gotten some wonderful advice and tips. (Everyone seems to know so much more than I do!) Now I have a question that I haven't seen the answer to in the archives so thought I'd pose it here. I acquired 3 chickens (our girls) a few weeks ago - 2 bantam black cocchins, and 1 standard size hen of unknown breed. They're doing beautifully and we're getting about 8 eggs a week from two of the girls (standard and one bantam). My question concerns the food scraps we're giving them. I'm trying all sorts of things to see what they like and don't like (they don't like banana peels, most everything else is ok). However, one of the things they absolutely go crazy over is bacon grease. Is that ok? Can I give them as much as they want or should I 'ration' it? Does this mean they're lacking something in their diet? We have layer pellets and clean water always available; toss them weeds as we clean up the gardens, and whatever food scraps we might have. They have a large pen for scratching around in.

Any advice on feeding bacon grease would be appreciated! Thanks. Elizabeth

-- Elizabeth Moulton (eamoulton@hotmail.com), April 15, 2002


Hi Elizabeth, I think it would be OK, they probably like the salt as well as the flavor. Since we don't have much bacon grease to share( I make soap)we do give the chickens some pieces of the commercial bird suet cakes that I put out for the wild song birds- they love it!! As to giving it to them 'free choice', maybe try giving them a little more each day until they don't eat it all. We free choice all of our animals, in 30 yrs we've never had any founder,bloat or have difficulty with giving birth. But we started slow and kept increasing the amount until they seemed to realize that it wasn't a 'treat' that needed to be consumed completely at one time. Again, this is how we do things, but I'm sure others will have other suggestions that might work better for you. Enjoy your 'girls' I think cochins are so pretty & good setters too. Blessings, Kathy

-- Kathy (beckoningwinds@yahoo.com), April 15, 2002.

Any food scrap that isn't actually rotten or moldy will be safe to feed your birds. I wouldn't give them a lot of bacon grease at any one time since it's highly salty nor do they need a lot of fat at one time.


-- Alan (athagan@atlantic.net), April 15, 2002.

Salty and fatty: kind of like potato chips for humans. Some should be fine.

-- Terri (hooperterri@prodigy.net), April 15, 2002.

I thought that salt was poison to chickens, but evidently you have proved that wrong. I don't know where the thought came from but I have read it somewhere.

-- Bonnie in indiana (queqid@att.net), April 15, 2002.

Salt is poison to birds just like it is poison to us. Eat too much of it and you're in trouble. Limited amounts we must have to survive, we can tolerate larger amounts, and too much puts us over the edge.


-- Alan (athagan@atlantic.net), April 15, 2002.

I've said here before that salt is bad for birds, but I should qualify that. Alan is right. I had reason to research it further just a few days ago. Up to a point chickens do better with a LITTLE salt in their diet, and for a little bit further they can tolerate more salt if they have plentiful fresh water. What IS particularly bad for them is if they have water that is too salty (say from a well). That way they drink more to get rid of the excess salt, which gets them more salt .... which gets them dead.

Oh,yes - different birds tolerate different amounts of salt. Food which has a salt content which is perfectly fine for chickens can kill turkeys, for instance.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), April 15, 2002.

wish i had more grease used to get some old fryer grease from a resturant would mix it with corn meal and feed the chickens and the dogs high calories would make them lay better in the winter,commercial feeds contain lots of these greases and other comercial byproducts

-- george darby (gardenalways@yahoo.com), April 21, 2002.

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