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23.09.2014 admin
I’ll show you how I weaned myself off of commercial chicken feed and replaced it with free compost and kitchen scraps. I knew commercial feed wasn’t going to work, so I tried completely free ranging (no fences) and had great success accept for all the chicken poop me and my family kept stepping in. Essentially, Geoff developed a mobile chicken operation in which the chickens are fed solely on kitchen scraps and compost!
If your not already, start a “chicken bucket” in your house and throw ALL your food scraps in this as feed. For a larger source of scraps, check out your local health food stores and ask a produce manager if you can have their “throw away” fruits and veggies. Have your compost material assembled near the entrance of your run so it’s easily accessible. If your using a temporary electric net for your fencing you can bring in the corner where you’ll be working to keep the chickens out of your way (see pictures below).
Not only do you get free, higher quality feed, you’ll get a cubic yard of compost each week.
I did notice that my production rates became less inconsistent, probably because of my inconsistencies in my learning curve.
There’s an amazing online calculator in which you can put in your available ingredients and get your ratio’s.
Step #1 – Get your compost material (green and brown) material assembled in separate piles. Step #2 – Fill the bin with your compost material being sure to mix and water along the way. Step #1 – Remove your pallets from week #3 pile and assemble them in your 4th and final corner. Step #2 – Start over by removing your pallets from corner #4 and assemble them in your 1st corner. I have begun working towards this type of system and I will use a few tips from this article to further refine my setup. I wonder if quality of the feed might actually depend on the mineral composition of the biota and the compost, in the same way that the quality of food depends on the mineral density of the food, which, in turn depends on the mineral balance of the soil, especially in relation to, but not confined to, micronutrients. Such a well written and informative article with visuals to help us to really get interested in going further in our efforts and not get discouraged. In your photos you look like you are using lots of pre-broken down brown material, is that right? Doing this once a week is timely, plus it give the new pile in the bin plenty of time to get hot.

I’m thinking about a system with considerably less chooks, and how much work is involved (vs paying for feed). The natural and organic brand, Simple Truth, found at Kroger & Affiliate stores, just released 9 new organic coupons, including some for brand new Simple Truth products.
Since your composting, you can include “organic”, non edible material like flowers, cardboard, paper etc… If the chickens don’t eat it, your compost will!
Most co-op’s and health food stores are probably already saving this stuff for folks to pick up. Better yet, put it just outside the fence just where your pile will be if you can throw it over. Between the biota and your kitchen scraps I’ll venture to guess this has got to be a higher quality feed than stale commercial grain. However, I still sufficient amount of eggs and meat from my flock of 30 for our family of 6.
Generally, you’ll need more carbon material (abbreviated to “C”, and also called Brown Material) than Nitrogen material (Abbreviated to “N”, and also called Green material).
You’ll guard off rain and prevent the pile from evaporation too fast and you’ll provide some barrier to keep the heat in.
What I mean by turn it, is to it pitch into a new pile right next to the old one.This will oxygenate your pile and get your outside material on the inside where most of the composting is going to happen.
I also feed them all the kitchen scraps we generate, except those they will not eat such as citrus rinds. At one point I was dumping the scraps in the afternoon and evening, and I started to notice rats! Besides eating their food, the disturbance they create at night stresses the chickens enough to adversely affect laying.
If it doesn’t get hot enough it won’t break down quick enough and it won’t kill the seeds that make it to the pile. If you get hotter than 160 you can actually kill the healthy biota in the pile and even cause a fire.
I switched to feeding the craps in the morning and the chickens pretty much have it all gone by evening. Now that rats are totally excluded from my system, the chooks are much more consistent and productive.
My chickens probably turn the piles too much in a weeks time, so ideally I might do a 5 day rotation. For savoury dishes, pour the polenta into boiling water, 1 part of polenta per 4 parts of water, stir (at least for the first 5 mins) and cook over low heat for around 20-30 minutes.  It can then be eaten in this way or poured it into a baking tray, allowed to set, sliced, grilled or baked.

In order to generate enough heat for your pile, you’ll need at least 1 cubic yard of material. One of our health food stores always has at least 3 – 10 trash buckets full of food scraps outback for a local composter.
You can try pet stores, small engine repair shops, hardware stores, motorcycle shops, furniture stores and lawn and garden shops. The chickens will eventually start showing less and less interest in the older less active piles. If they slow down, I’m not out any money, but I’m still getting a cubic yard of compost every week. Brown materials like wood chips, leaves, straw are higher in C:N ratio’s (in other words they are much higher in carbon than nitrogen than green materials. In this case you likely have too much green material and will need to balance it out with more brown material the next time you turn it. Did you choose a week because it’s a handy timeframe, or because that’s how long it took for the birds to go off the piled compost?
That was the fall of 2013 and it ended up being the last time I ever bought commercial feed for my flock. To bring my leaves ratio down and my manure ratio up, I realize I’m going to have to have more leaves, pound for pound, than manure.
If you added in my cost of equipment, housing, watering systems and labor I was better off buying my eggs, even at premium free range organic prices, at the farmers market.
If this is happening, your loosing nitrogen to the atmosphere as you don’t have enough carbon to capture it properly. I am currently covering it with poultry netting because hawks have killed some hens recently. If that’s your case, ad more carbonatious brown material next week when you turn your pile.
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