A couple of posts ago I blogged about my perspective on the EU legislation relating to the feeding of kitchen scraps to your chickens.
As a result quite a few people contacted me wanting to know a bit more about how folks fed their feathered livestock prior to the ‘meddling EU’ getting involved.
The premise behind it all really was to create chicken feed from the kitchen left overs, in other words food we would not eat ourselves due to it being less palatable (which today at best would be composted, at worst thrown away into a landfill site). These ‘scraps’ would then be converted by the chicken into something far more appealing such as an egg or meat – it seems a simple, frugal and sensible way of recycling, no?
As I’ve mentioned before, within the EU the feeding of kitchen scraps to livestock is regulated and strict guidance is provided on what can and cannot be fed to animals, such as chickens, that sit within our food chain. Prior to this legislation however it was common place to feed chickens scraps and in fact was encouraged as an economical way to convert kitchen by-product into eggs and meat by the very same organisations that no prohibit it.
Back in the old days common sense would be applied and no meat other than fish, or any non meat product that had come into to direct contact with meat (other than fish) would be fed to the chickens. (Sensible, and a bit of shame we didn’t remember that point, it could have saved a lot of hassle with mad cow disease and the like)
Most raw vegetables would be minced first before being fed to the chickens and a few, such as potato peelings would be cooked or steamed first in order to make them more palatable. Even the water from this cooking exercise would be made available to the flock as it contained valuable vitamins and minerals.
It might be against the law today to feed kitchen scraps in this manner however it isn’t against the law to grow your own chicken feed which would certainly supplement any commercially obtained feed or feed ingredients. Legumes such as pea, broad, French and runner bean are particularly beneficial being high in protein and are also mostly liked by chickens. It is best to dry them and then mince or grind them before adding them to the chickens feed. Other vegetables such as maize, brassicas (sprouts, cabbages), kale and sunflowers all provide an excellent source of supplements.
During the winter feeding sprouted seeds provides another excellent source of protein for your chickens giving the flock a welcome boost.
It is however important to note that if you do elect to grow your own chicken feed then do make sure you weigh up the space taken to grow the plants against the value of the food you get in return from the chickens. This is perhaps why in the past we made the best economical use of the waste from allotments and vegetable plots in the old days…..