Feeding Your Farm and Garden Flock
Book 1 Introduction
Wherever I see a flock of family fowls being fed “ad lib” from an open hopper or treadle activated feeder – allowing the hens to feed, at will, at all times, on impulse - I can only see that early call of death and disease which is waiting to claim lazy, overweight hens that have been allowed to feed freely, across the day, all of their lives, whenever they desire.
That kind of “open slather” feeding is a recipe for disaster, in every setting, with every kind of livestock.
Such “at call” regular daily feeding of fowls having unfettered access to treadle feeders and ad-lib hoppers is a totally non-sustainable form of flock management, and is a primary cause of hen obesity related vice, death and illness overtaking farm and garden family flocks.
Not only does ad lib hopper feeding run a high risk of over-fed, indolent hens developing obesity related conditions such as prolapse, egg-yolk peritonitis, sour crop, hock displacement, wing drop and joint dislocation, it also leads directly to such obesity and boredom related flock vices as vent and feather pecking.
These flock vices – once started with your hens – are almost impossible to break, and can lead directly to an outbreak of cannibalism.
Hopper feeding is also a really inefficient form of flock feed practice because it wastes so much of the open forage flock's litter turning, mulch making, and compost creating potential.
Hens that are fed, on demand, at the hopper, or on the treadle, put very little work into turning and conditioning the litter.
When overfed, lazy hens fail to turn and spread and work the litter as they might – where a constant edge of slight hunger pushes them to seek those daily scratch grain grains which have been broadcast into the litter – they fail to attain that high-intensity work rate in the flock shed and litter yard which converts the poultry litter into garden compost at a rapid, highly efficient rate.
Even worse - as hopper feeding sees the litter-turning work rate of fat, lazy, aging hens diminish to a minimum - you run the risk of an inert, sour litter mass being left in the shed to go mouldy and to become dangerously unhealthy beneath an accumulating top layer of sour, sticky, unhealthy hen-droppings left to build up on the top of the non-worked litter.
What we need – for our garden flocks – are daily once-fed slightly hungry hens that will work the litter, all day, every day, chasing their tucker while turning, tossing, scratching, spreading and inverting the litter medium constantly, keeping it open, fluffy, well-aerated, sweet and continually composting as the beneficial bacteria – which break down the carbon and the manure being buried within the litter - are kept fed with the oxygen, nitrogen and trace elements wanted for their work.
If you would like to know how to feed your hens and how to build the right kind of litter mix wanted for this highly efficient system of compost creation and sustainable poultry flock management, we have last 20 copies left of the spiral bound edition of the book on feeding your flocks naturally, organically, and sustainably.