Feeding your animals a complete and balanced diet is essential if they are to stay healthy and lay a lot of eggs or provide fresh milk for you and your family! Paul West shares his expert tips.
Here is a simple guideline on how to ensure your poultry and other farm animals have a nutritious diet.
WHY DO IT?
Offering a wide variety of foods will prevent health problems and deficiencies in your farmyard friends.
Ducks and Chooks
Their main staple food should be a good quality poultry pellet, which would be the mainstay of their diet. Grain, such as wheat and corn can also be scattered within their pen. Clean water must always be readily available. Paul feeds his chooks about 100 grams of organic grain per day. Foods from your pantry also provide a nutritious diet on occasion: brown rice, rolled oats, cooked pasta, bread, and beans.
You’ll also want to give them a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Examples of raw fruits and vegetables that can be fed include: Bok choy,silverbeet, spinach, endive, chickweed, cabbage, vegetable peels and fruit (e.g. banana).
Soft or think shelled eggs are a good indication that your birds need more calcium in their diet. Combat that by adding dried eggshell ground to a powder to their feed.
Make sure scraps don't contain anything that is high in fat or salt, and avoid feeding anything that is rancid or spoiled.
Allow your chooks and ducks to free range on fresh pasture. In addition, it’s a good idea to always provide a constant supply of coarse shell grit, as well as access to earthworms and burrowing insects in leaf litter or compost.
Provide access to garden plants including pulled weeds (but avoid poisonous plants). A weed lawn instead of a monoculture lawn is recommended for free range hens.
Do not feed: Rhubarb, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits or lawn mower clippings (as these can become mouldy quickly and mouldy food can make chickens very sick).
The DPI has a handy sheet, which provides more information: Small-scale Poultry Feeding
Check your state/territory Department of Agriculture or equivalent for information about swill feeding laws in your state. In Queensland for example, swill feeding poultry is banned: Swill feeding.
Pigs have a similar digestion to humans. So although you can feed them a number of food scraps, it’s best to avoid feeding them hard to digest foods such as avocado skins and banana skins.
Pigs are really expensive to keep due to the sheer costs in feeding them. Paul feeds his pigs wheat, barley, lupines and corn- depending on what is available at the time. The adult sows at River Cottage get 2 kg’s a day, a fair comparison to the little piglets, which started off on 1 kg a day before being gradually increased.
These animals are likely to be the most economical of all your farm animals. They will happily forage on pasture and bushes and do not need any supplementary foods.
They will be happy feeding on mainly a grass diet. If they are producing milk then they will have more energy requirements, so it’s best to supplement their diet with some grain.