Raising Natural Chickens | Soy-free Feed & More

About 7 years ago I decided to get some 
chickens for my garden. 

 These birds and their quirky personalities
quickly became my pets.




 I do hold a great appreciation for those who can raise their own meat birds, however I am unable to do this myself. I now have several pet senior birds which I have experimented with many natural products. 

I was purchasing premium organic chicken feed and offering this along with greens, insects, warm oatmeal in winter and other scraps. The organic feed was soy, wheat & corn based. One of my favorite hens had a terrible rash on her keel which almost looked like a burn. 

We initially thought that the spruce roosts may have been the cause and tried changing them to no avail. She spent the first 3 years of her life with this awful rash when one day I noticed she was also becoming ill. She just lied in the corner on the floor and would not eat any feed. She did eat oatmeal and offering of bugs and scraps so I kept her alive with this.

The feed store decided to stop offering the organic feed as they came out with their own house brand. We switched to the new organic feed (also corn, wheat & soy based) but this feed was pelleted and our chickens were accustomed to cracked grains so showed no interest in it. I was in a panic. We are on an island and this was the only feed available to us and our chicken would not eat it. 

We rushed out and bought up organic puffed cereals along with wild bird seed and oyster shell, mixed this with some oats and clean sand and hoped for the best. I checked to make sure the wild bird seed did not contain any GMO ingredients.

I was a little concerned for their health but to my surprise not only did they love it, it was cheaper and my hen with the rash became cured in just weeks.

The feed store called and said that there was some of the original feed in stock so we bought the last two bags and fed it to them again, low and behold the hen tried to pick around the feed in search of any of the wild birdseed and ended up developing the rash again.

For the last few years I have been feeding only wild bird seed, insects, garden greens, oatmeal & table scraps and all of them seem healthier than ever despite their age.

I believe to this day that she was allergic to soy. Not many farmers have the opportunity to see this type of thing happening with the number of animals they are keeping. But I am sure that she can not be the only bird who reacts to soy in feed.

Below is some info on keeping chickens, even though the post is lengthy, don't let it deter you from keeping your own backyard flock. Most remedies will never be needed but it is good info to have on hand.

Feeding without soy

Chickens love to eat. A good organic feed is a must. Clean fresh feed, oyster shell, grit and water should be available all the time. A few spoonfuls of ACV (apple cider vinegar with “mother”) in water periodically will promote a good immune system as will crushed fresh garlic offered free-choice. Chickens love scraps, greens, bread, seeds, fruit peels…they will do a great job of composting your leftovers. Of course some foods are toxic to birds so check this LIST.

Garlic

Feeding Garlic at 3% and up to 7% of your hens diet will prevent fleas and mites, adding garlic to their water will prevent worm infestations. Garlic boosts the immunity against many diseases and

aids in longevity. Garlic will add a delicious (in my opinion –everyone LOVES my eggs) flavor to the eggs and also cuts down on the ammonia content in the feces making it much easier to clean the coop.

Capsicum

Adding a small amount of Capsicum to your chicken scratch will provide a non-antibiotic way of reducing food-borne pathogens.

Lactobacillus acidophilus / Bifidus

Active good bacteria can be used to cure ailments of the digestive tract. It reduces intestinal parasites and other pathogens, Helps poultry fight illness and disease, helps with weight gain, especially in winter months when protein levels tend to be lower, Using Pro- biotics in chick starter will prevent the growth of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chicks.

The purpose of soy in feed is for protein. Soy is not a biologically appropriate protein for chickens and has to be altered in order for it to even be safe for chickens to eat. Here is a great article I found including soy-free recipes for chicken feed.


Some other high protein sources for feed are:

Hemp

Hemp meal in chicken feed offers more nutrients such as the amino acids, which are present in the whole seeds. Hemp seeds have long been used as bird feed. The nutritional content of the hemp seed is impressive, offering 30% complete and highly digestible protein and containing over 36% essential fatty acids, which is 16% more than flaxseed. It is the best source of Omega 3, Linolenic acid and Omega 6, Linoleic acid, as

well as GLA, Gamma Linoleic acid (approximately 3%). Hemp seed contains protein, lipids, choline, inositol, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phospholipids, phytosterols, and all eight essential amino acids.

Mealworms

Insects are a very good source of protein. There are many videos on You tube showing how to raise and attract insects for chickens. Here is one on raising mealworms: 


Seafood

Any type of dried fish or shell fish meal offers great natural protein for chickens. Fish meal is approximately 65% crude protein, the crude protein content can vary from 57 to 77%, depending on the species of fish used. Fishmeal is a highly digestible, high quality protein. 

A protein that does not contain the proper amount of required (essential) amino acids would be an imbalanced protein and would have a lower nutritional value to the bird. Read More here

Coconut

Coconut meal is also being used in tropical regions. Cocofeed

Comments

  1. Always great to find ways to avoid that sneaky soy! How did civilization exist without it, I wonder.My first chickies don't arrive for another two months, but I know I want to avoid a soy based feed.Thanks.

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  2. You stated: For the last few years I have been feeding only wild bird seed, insects, garden greens, oatmeal & table scraps and all of them seem healthier than ever despite their age.

    Do you have a recipe or just give them what is available? Are there different types of wild bird seed out there with different ingredients in them?

    I have tried switching my chickens to oat, barley and wheat plus they are free range and get veggie scraps but they have stopped laying eggs.

    Jamie

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  3. They need lots of protein, if you don't want to raise meal worms, you will need higher protein foods. The wild bird seed I use is organically grown and contains primarily black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, White Prosso Millet, Wheat, Red Milo (sorghum. I also gave them fish meal for added protein and oyster shell to ensure plenty of calcium.

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