Friday, September 10, 2010

Feed your family, feed your flock....

Over the cooler months, I have taken to feeding our hens (and rooster!), a warm, nutritious mash that is easy to make. They have been rewarding us with 5-6 eggs a day lately, and while probably just good timing, I like to think that it has at least something to do with the warm dinner in their bellies late in the afternoon, before they hop up on their perches to sleep for the night...

Chooks love a warm, nutritious mash during the cooler months.

Ingredients:
1-2 cups of layer pellets (may vary depending on how many chooks - and scraps, you have)
leftover cooked scraps from last nights dinner
stale bread
mangy leftover sandwiches from the bottom of children's school bags (NOT green or furry!)
leftover whey if you have been making homemade ricotta  or cream cheese
1/2 cup milk powder, if you are short on scraps or whey

We keep our daily food scraps in a 4 litre ice-cream container, which also makes a great feed bowl for the chooks' mash. Just add 1-2 cups of layer pellets to the scraps, pour boiling water over to cover and stir well, breaking up any lumps of cooked veggies or stale bread with a spoon. If using whey, heat it up then pour it over OR alternatively, mix the scraps, pellets and whey all together and heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes, until warm and mushy. Stir well to ensure all of the tasty cooked scrappy goodness is well distributed. Those chooks are crafty, they'll pick through the mix looking for the good bits, but if it's all mixed through, they will tend to gulp it down in big mouthfuls (beakfuls?).

If using boiling water to make the mash, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, to allow the mash to cool a little and to give the pellets a chance to soak up the liquid.

No need to plate up, chooks aren't fussy about presentation. The ice cream container is a perfectly acceptable vessel to place in the chook pen, containing the mashy delicacy. They'll love you for it and possibly even reward you with extra (or more regular at the very least) eggs! Maybe even enough for a 16 egg fritatta....

3 comments:

  1. That's great - we feed our six girls a hot mash too, only every morning rather than evening. This morning we all slept in, and you should have heard the commotion as they were yelling for breakfast!

    Our recipe is very similar - one cup layer mash pellets, 1+ cups boiling water and this morning I also threw in leftover pasta soup from a couple of days ago. I've never been confident about giving them milk products, as I read online that they can be sensitive to lactose, and our chickens did get the runs when we were cooking their mash in hot milk? Have you had any problems with that at all? I know they do love it when we occasionally give them yoghurt or ricotta, but I'm still a bit nervous about it.

    We use an old roasting pan, and I'd love you to tell me the trick to stop them STANDING in it as they eat! :)

    PS. I agree completely - I do think the hot mash has a lot to do with why our girls are laying so well. And they do seem to love it so much!

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  2. The milk powder is a treat - not used every day, and only a small amount in proportion to the pellets. The girls show no signs of ill effect when they consume it. I know what you mean about the yoghurt/ricotta - don't they gobble it up! It's quite a sight to see them with white 'ooze' running all down their beaks! If you are nervous about it then stick to what you feel comfortable with.

    With the roasting pan - maybe try elevating it up on a couple of bricks, so that it is pecking height but they can't step into it? Our girls are often in such a clambour to get to the bowl that it inevitably gets knocked over, I'm still figuring that one out...

    I have also heard of people using soy grits in the mash - just need to track some down! :)

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  3. You know, you do make me feel better, Chris. As I'm roasting bonito tuna in the oven for them (I bought a whole fish and my men all refuse to eat it), or putting my back out lowering their custom dust bath into the coop, I feel greatly reassured to know that I'm not the only one who is completely chicken bonkers.. :D

    Re the roasting pan - the really good thing about it is that they can't knock it over - it's a heavy old enamel one. They'd have no trouble stepping into it if it was raised - our girls fly! :)

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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