Wait, what is that babe-chick eating? Yes, and that is meat on the right! Nice to meet you, I'm the "crazy lady who feeds meat to her chickens" - I'm quoting.
It drives me nuts to see egg cartons in the grocery aisle with "Vegetarian Fed" plastered on the packaging. Who does this benefit? Let's say I were a strict vegetarian due to the fact this is the only reasoning I can find for such advertising. I would want an animal to eat the way nature intended. The end product in which I consume would be more beneficial to my body if they had. Chickens in their natural environment would have meat on their menu!
Chicks, like their parents, are omnivores. They need both vegetable and animal matter for growth and development. Feeding all (including humans) a species-appropriate diet is imperative. There is a HUGE difference in feeding and nourishing. I have attempted both (one of those many mistakes) and found that nourishing bestows health. You can feed to survive or nourish to thrive. Stop feeding your babe chicks that unidentifiable, colorless crumble today! Allow them to flourish on this species-appropriate chick nourishment!
And always: smile at your attempts, enjoy your accomplishments, and share your knowledge!
Make the herbal grain mixture: (per LB of mix)
.42 lb Wheat, Oats, Barley, and/or Millet
I use a combination of the above grains, depending upon cost. However, I always lead with Wheat, then Oats, etc. continuing in the order above.
.20 lb Split Peas and/or Lentils
I use a mixture of both.
.06 lb Seeds
I use a combination of sesame, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and/or buckwheat.
.02 lb Calcium Source
I use my finely crumbled egg shells. You can pulse them in your blender a few times.
.14 lb Polenta (or coarse ground cornmeal)
Extremely important ingredient as it helps in the prevention of pasty butt.
.12 lb Beneficial Herbs
I make my own mixture which will be featured in an upcoming blog.
.04 lb Mineral Mixture
Again, I make my own, combining yeast, kelp, salt, dandelion, garlic, and probiotics, which I will be discussing shortly in another blog.
In a food mill, food processor, or blender, pulse several times.
I do this in small batches in my Vita-Mix. When the chicks are very young, you will need to ground this into a crumble they consume. As they mature, you will only pulse two or three times. As they approach 6 - 8 weeks, you can omit this step altogether.
The above picture was ground to feed my chicks at four weeks old.
You will start out nourishing them with about 1 Tablespoon per chick twice per day. No, I don't leave endless food out for them. There is purpose and health in the bodies desire for sustenance. Furthermore, their digestive systems are different from the ever-grazing herbivore. This amount will increase as they grow, reaching up to 1/4 cup per chick twice per day.
Now the crazy part: the Meat.
Since I feed my dogs a raw diet, I have plenty of ground whole animal (another discussion) on hand. You can use ground beef as a substitute, but keep in mind ground beef is the muscle meat and fat. When I'm feeding carnivores and omnivores, I mimic the parts of the animal they would consume in the wild? The answer is all: organs, head, feet...
Add a small amount of ground meat to the bottom of your feed dish.
Pictured below feeds 24 little chicks at the age of 1-month-old. I hope you can see the meat to chick feed - it is not a ton of meat. I would estimate 1/4 ground meat to 3/4 ground chick feed. Let's say I am feeding one chick 1/4 cup (4 TB) of total food per day; the meat would account for only 1 Tablespoon.
Cover the meat with the dry ingredients, and watch your chicks go crazy!
A Frequently Asked Question:
I get asked quite often, after the initial gasp, "Do you feed them meat every day?" The answer would be no. However, there is always some nutritious surprise under their chick feed.
Fruit is my go-to because I have it on hand, and they love it. Some diced banana, diced apple, diced strawberries... You get the idea, pure, healthy, varied, species-appropriate nutrition.