You’ve heard the phrase, “you are what you eat”, right? Well, the same applies to what you feed your critters! If you give them a low quality feed, then what you get out of them (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) won’t be as nutritious & delicious!
One of the biggest perks to having chickens (besides hours of entertainment!) are farm fresh eggs!
What you feed your chickens will determine how your eggs taste and the color of the yolk! Chickens who are allowed to free range and dine on bugs, worms, plants, & other outside yummys will have this beautiful rich orange-colored yolk (varying shades of orange depending on how much they are outside foraging).
The chickens at Grace Haven Farm have it made! But, in the winter with the shorter days & colder weather, our girls don’t get quite as much sunshine & outside time as they do when it’s warmer. I notice that the color of their yolks turns from a bright orange to a vibrant yellow-orange, because their food supply differs during this season. I add scratch grain to their layer food during the cold months to keep them healthy & plump, and help keep them warm at night.
Over the years, starting when our girls were 3 day old chicks, I have added a handful of different supplements to their feed, particularly in the winter to keep optimize their nutrition!
If chickens are allowed to free range outside & are supplemented with high quality layer feed, they generally get most of the nutrients they need. But, depending on our health status, we all need nutrient boost from time to time, right?! In the least, most of us take a daily multi vitamin. Chickens are no different!
The taste & quality of your chicken’s eggs & meat is not only important for you & your family. Farm fresh products that are more flavorful & higher in nutrients will have your customers running back for more!
These are the supplements that have been most successful with our flock, and what the hens go clucking crazy over! I do not feed all of these supplements together or everyday. I listed the frequency of how often I feed them below:
Sea Kelp– I know this sounds so crazy! But, for real, this stuff is the bomb! It’s superfood for your chickens! My chickens are crazy in love with this stuff! I feed it year round. They don’t need it everyday, but this is an overall immune booster & is jammed packed with vitamins. I sprinkle it in with their food 2-3 times a week. Baby chicks can also be started on this in their first few weeks of life! It’s great for building their little immune systems!
Nutritional benefits include:
- Provides vitamins, minerals, & amino acids
- Can prevent outbreaks of coccidiosis
- It’s an awesome addition to your compost from using the Deep Litter Method! Your garden will love it!
Omega Fields Ultra Egg-Don’t you just love the name! Ulllllltraaaa egg! I love this stuff! It’s made with ground flax seed mixture, and full of B vitamins, protein, & omega 3 fatty acids. This is an awesome support supplement if your girls are molting, or if you want to boost the omega 3 content in their eggs. I feed this during molting season (usually early fall for our girls), and if I feel like their egg production needs a little boost. The yolks turn this brilliant shade of orange and their eggs taste richer when this is added to their feed.
Nutritional benefits include (taken from Amazon.com)
- May help increase Omega-3 levels in eggs and preserve egg flavor aroma , and nutritional value
- May help improve laying rates and flock health
- May help support brilliant, high-quality plumage
- Natural occurring amino acids – valuable protein building blocks
- All Natural without artificial preservatives,
- Full nutritional value guaranteed for 18 months (reference from Amazon.com)
Fennel seed (organic)-This is great for boosting egg production! I pair this with the Omega Ultra Egg supplement over a several week period, and I notice an increase in their egg production. I have not noticed that feeding this directly effects the taste or yolk color, but it seems to help my girls, so that makes me happy!
- Acts as a stimulant for laying
- Treats a variety of digestive issues
- Contains Vitamin C, Potassium, Iron, & fiber
Garlic + brewers yeast– I was first introduced to this great combo when our girls were itty bitty. It’s a great immune booster with lots of B vitamins, protein, and niacin. I fed this to our week old chicks 1-2 times a week for a couple months. Our hens are now 1.5 years old, and I still add this periodically to their layer feed. It’s not a supplement that you necessarily want to use daily, so I use this less frequently with my adult hens. This is another supplement that will deepen the color of your yolks, and improve the taste!
- High in B vitamins (including niacin)
- Is thought to repel fleas & parasites (no concrete research proving this)
Probiotics– Everyone can benefit from a daily probiotic, even your chickies! If one of the girls starts to look a little puny, every chicken in our flock gets probiotics (and fresh garlic). Works every time. I also rotated this into the baby chicks feed from the very beginning (for the first 3-4 months), and I never have had a sick chick.
- This is a good digestive system boost (adds good bacteria to their gut that help fight disease and counter bad bacteria).
- If your chicken has had to be on antibiotics, this is highly recommended to help heal their gut & strengthen their immune system.
Fresh garlic (minced)– Garlic has amazing antimicrobial & antibacterial qualities, and is a powerful immune stimulate. This is my go to if one of my girls starts looking droopy, or if I suspect worms. I put a dollop on a plate, and they go to town! If I suspect a health issue, I feed this several days in a row.
Oregano essential oil**- Oregano has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years as a powerful natural antimicrobial. With research backed studies abounding on Oregano, many large chicken corporations have turned to oregano as a natural solution! This allows them to sell their chicken as an antibiotic free product, which is a huge step in the right direction for these larger companies!
Oregano is one of the most powerful & potent of the essential oils. It is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, & anti-inflammatory. It can cause skin sensitivity, so I would not apply it topically to your birds.
You can read more about the benefits of Oregano here.
**Side note, but super important. Buying essential oils from Walmart & Amazon is dangerous. There is no way to ensure that the oils you are purchasing are pure, free of impurities, and dangerous synthetics. I experienced this personally when I bought several brands of EO’s (including dōTERRA) from Amazon, The smell and viscosity of the oil was very different from the real dōTERRA oil. I experienced dizziness with the Amazon bought oil, which I do not experience with the same oil bought from dōTERRA.
This post is dedicated to our first flock of chickens, who first helped us fall madly in love with raising these crazy birds! ?
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