Friday, December 23, 2011

How to Make the Most of Veggie Scraps for Your Hens

kitchen scraps for chickens
You can easily turn your veggies scraps into something your chickens will actually eat!
When I first got chickens I assumed they would devour anything. I figured we'd buy a bit of supplemental feed for them, but that the bulk of their died would come from kitchen scraps. I was a little worried I would have nothing left to put in the worm bin... but it turned out chickens are a bit more picky than that. I guess we'll need to get pigs if I really want an animal that can eat any scraps.

I had heard of people chopping up greens for their hens, and that just seemed tedious to me. Greens are a huge part of a healthy chicken's diet. In fact, I believe they should be mostly eating greens & insects, with grains mostly for "scratch" in the winter. I'm sure there are almost as many opinions on the proper diet for a chicken as there are for the proper human diet, but I have heard that what makes a healthy egg yolk bright orange is lots of beta carotene, which the chickens get from having a diet high in fresh foods. Also, eggs from chickens eating more greens are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. Let's face it, we all could use more greens in our diets.

My chickens ended up on a high-feed, high input diet for a while as it took me a few months to figure this trick out. Now, I quickly turn my fruit & veggie scraps into bite size nibbles that the chickens can easily eat.

kitchen scraps for chickens
Bag o' fruit & veggie scraps
First, every time I use fruits & vegetables, I save anything the chickens could eat if it were smaller in a gallon size ziplock bag. Things I don't save include: banana and orange peels, onion skins, hot pepper bits, basil, mint, or other aromatic herb scraps. They seem to shy away from strong smells, though every flock is different. For a long time my chickens wouldn't eat raspberries, until we introduced some new pullets and they tried them, and got all the other hens interested. Now they scramble when I toss them an overripe raspberry. It just takes one brave chicken...

kitchen scraps for chickens
This batch includes carrot greens, cantaloupe rinds, kale and chard stems, and part of a butternut squash

Once you have your bag of scraps, pulverize it in batches in a food processor until it is in pretty uniformly small pieces:

kitchen scraps for chickens
Et voila!
They will eat this as is, but I'll often mix it with some old popcorn or some store bought feed. I usually crunch up a few eggshells in there as well so they get the grit and calcium they need.

With a quick scrub and a rinse, the food processor is clean and you have veggies for a few days for your hens, at no extra cost.

Also, check out my articles here on sprouting grains for your chickens, and keeping natural chickens

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How to Make the Most of Veggie Scraps for Your Hens
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40 comments

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January 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Great idea! What a time saver. We end out chopping everythign by hand becasue we don't have a food processor.

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May 18, 2012 at 6:32 AM

I think this makes alot of sense -- if a scrap is too big or tough, my chickens are put off by it. Thanks for the great tip and sharing with Rural Thursdays!

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May 18, 2012 at 8:06 AM

That's so funny - my girls will eat literally anything. I throw whatever out there and it's gone by the end of the day. You're right about every flock being different. Glad you found a way for your hens to get what they need.

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May 18, 2012 at 8:15 AM

Ha, I WISH my chickens were like that! What breeds do you have?

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July 31, 2012 at 8:08 AM

We just started keeping chickens this summer, and I've had a hard time figuring out what they will eat--they are picky too. I've been buying them corn on the cob! I am going to try this, though I don't have a food processor--I'll try the blender.

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July 31, 2012 at 9:38 AM

My husband is desperate for us to get chickens, but I'm worried that they will be one more pet for me to clean up after! Haha! It's wonderful that you are able to use food scraps for a great purpose.

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July 31, 2012 at 10:14 AM

I had no idea it would be so complicated! Great use of your kitchen scraps.

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July 31, 2012 at 10:16 AM

I don't have chickens yet, but I've learned a lot from your three chicken posts. Hope to get some hens in the spring.

I just subscribed. I've come to your site often through blog hops. Great articles!

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July 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Once you get the coop & run sorted out, whether building or installing them, there really isn't too much work. We feed ours twice a day, but some people install automatic feeders so, automatic waterers, and even electronic door openers so they really don't have to do anything except occasionally refill the feeder. Every once in a while, there is the big job of scooping out the run and putting it all in a compost pile... but it doesn't have to be done very often- and your husband can do it ;)

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September 26, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Mine won't eat green beans. Maybe if I chop them like you do. thanks.

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October 4, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Great ideas - mine definitely don't eat everything I toss in there! Thanks for linking up this week at the Backyard Farming Connection Hop - hope to see you next week :)

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October 8, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Hi Mellow, I'm Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com) visiting from the Natural Living Mamma blog hop.

Never thought of putting the scraps in the processor. Very clever!

Anyway, it’s nice to "meet" you. I hope you can pop over to my blog and say hi sometime if you get the chance.

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October 14, 2012 at 7:53 PM

This is great! My parents just got laying hens I am sending this to them! Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday! http://wp.me/p2pBvv-AQ

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November 2, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Yes, I have noticed that our chickens don't eat some of the bigger scraps I give them. I thought for sure they'd love some oranges (I threw them in whole), and thought later if I would have cut them in half that they would have eaten them. Maybe even then they wouldn't. I just gave them our carved halloween pumpkins. I wonder if they will eat them!

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November 2, 2012 at 8:28 PM

I've never given them the inside part of oranges... but they don't care for the peel. I bet they'll eat the pumpkins. We've got some to toss to the chickens as well!

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November 26, 2012 at 9:29 AM

My flock (mixed group of Easter Eggers, Marans, and Golden Sex Link) will eat most anything I toss, I do very minor cutting up. They were hilarious to watch going after the pumpkins we had left over at work (we had a bunch of the small ones for table centerpieces for our November luncheon) - I cut them in half and put them in the coop. They went nuts going after the seeds first, but my the next morning there was nothing left but the thin outer rind. They did the same with some old watermelons I gave them last summer... so fun and cute to watch, talk about cheap entertainment, lol!

Patty

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November 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM

That's funny. We always give pumpkins to our rabbits, and they eat the thin rind first, then go for the flesh when the rind is gone ;)
I don't know why some chickens are more fickle eaters!

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December 7, 2012 at 3:25 AM

Mellow your hens are blessed to have such a thoughtful carer. How lovingly put together, I loved this post! Thank you for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration over at Natural mothers Network! Rebecca x

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December 7, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Hi Mellow...
I saw you on the barn hop and really enjoyed your post about vegetable scraps for the hens. I do not have any hens, but am hoping to them next year. I also enjoyed your other two posts on hens....thank you for keeping up informed.

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December 7, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Thanks Claudine! That's nice to hear.

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December 14, 2012 at 9:18 AM

We are planning to get chickens in the spring, so I'm reading everything that I can find. Thanks for the tip! :)

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December 19, 2012 at 2:23 PM

I thought the top pic was some kind of yummy salsa! I guess hens would like it more than humans! Thanks for linking up!

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December 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Ha ha, yes this is pretty similar to many salsas I've made ;)

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December 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Thanks for linking up your post to our Strut Your Stuff Saturday! Have a Happy New Year! -The Six Sisters

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February 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Thanks for sharing on Eco Kids! I'm your newest follower. I pinned this on the Eco Kids Board: http://pinterest.com/pin/48554502204754592/

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February 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Ooooh! We toss our chicken-friendly scraps to our flock BUT there are always some things they just won't eat... Thanks for sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! Hope to see you back tomorrow!

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February 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM

This is a great idea, makes a lot of sense! Thanks for sharing at Fluster's Creative Muster. Looking forward to seeing what you link up next week.

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February 26, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Great idea! Love it :) Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!!! Can't wait to see what you share this coming Thursday :) Here's the super easy link to the next hop!
http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/the-homeacre-hop-8.html

If you haven't checked out Wildcrafing Wednesday yet, please do! :) It's a hop I co-host for herbal remedies, natural living, real food recipes, and self sufficient living. Here's the link for tomorrow's hop:
http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/wildcrafting-wednesday-10.html

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March 16, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I had no idea that greens were so important in a chicken's diet. Thanks for sharing these tips over on Tuesday Greens!

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March 17, 2013 at 2:45 PM

This is great! I can only imagine how much those chicken's love this! Awesome way to keep them healthy:) Thanks for linking up to Motivation Monday!

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March 22, 2013 at 4:28 AM

Found you from the Frugal By Choice linky- I have some chicks right now and love this idea for when they're older. I had chickens before and got frustrated with all the scraps they left of my scraps! Can't wait to try it this way!!

www.werefarfromnormal.com

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April 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Thank you for sharing this on Tuned-in Tuesday Blog Hop! Looking forward to seeing what you have to share tomorrow! http://www.healthyrootshappysoul.com/2013/03/tuned-in-tuesday-blog-hop-3.html

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April 7, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Your post is awesome and thank you so much for sharing it at the table with Full Plate Thursday.
Hope to see you again soon!
Miz Helen

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April 29, 2013 at 3:08 PM

I've been doing this with my chickens and wasn't sure if it was a good idea- then I read your post and feel better knowing someone else has had success with it. I started off giving them chopped scraps and sprouts since day 1 and my chickens favorite foods are cilantro stems and cauliflower greens (But really they will eat pretty much anything). Thank you for your wonderful blog.

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May 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM

Thanks so much for sharing at A Peek Into Paradise TGIF Link Party.

I hope you will come party with us next week and see if you were featured! http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/

Have a great week!

Hugs! Cathy

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October 4, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Great information! So glad you joined us on Foodie Friday Link Party. As a co-host, I want you to know that I pin, like, Google+ and twitter your link. Thanks for participating. I would love you to drop by my site at http://www.kneadedcreations. I look forward to reading your comments. Deb @ Kneaded Creations

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October 25, 2013 at 7:10 AM

What great information! I will be sharing this with my mother in law because she has hens and always looking for easier ways to feed them. Thanks for stopping by Family Fridays!!!!

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