Are kitchen scraps and backyard foraging enough to keep hens healthy and laying well over the long-term? The short answer is NO!
In most backyards, space is limited which restricts hens ability to forage for bugs and insects. Depending on the season, insects will also vary greatly in number and type with not all created equally when it comes to sustaining a hen and her egg-laying.
Hens will also tend to quickly deplete any pasture they are allowed access to which can be slow to recover in the colder months. Even lush pasture will have quite different nutrient levels at different times of the year so can’t be relied on as a good food source over the longer term. Importantly, hens are simply unable to digest grass to the point that they can utilise all of the nutrients on offer.
It’s a similar situation with kitchen scraps which vary greatly in nutritional value to hens. One day they get pasta, the next rice and bread and custard on the weekends. This leftover “human” food is not often well-suited to the digestive and nutritional needs of hens that are required to produce a good quality egg every day.
Micro and Macro
One of the most vital deficiencies with hens fed only kitchen scraps and pasture is the lack of micronutrients which are essential to their health. Micronutrients are nutrients needed in tiny amounts within a hen‘s diet such as vitamins, amino acids and trace elements including iron, selenium, zinc, iodine and manganese. In the Talking Hens Gourment feed, our micronutrients are all organic and in just the right amounts in order to be fully utilised by the hen.
Macronutrients include fats, protein and carbohydrates. In a hen‘s diet, these are often found in grains such as maise, wheat and barley along with soybean and meat meal etc.
To eliminate deficiencies in your flock’s diet and promote their best health and egg laying, a balanced diet provided by a “complete” layer feed is essential. It must contain sufficient quantities and quality of all the needed micro and macronutrients needed by hens.