Free feed, garden rejects

This is the time of year when the chickens just get to go crazy eating fresh produce. The ones that can't free range especially love it! They get to 'help' me garden by eating up all the produce that I deem not fit for human consumption. 

This can include a tomato that split, some cucumbers that something or other crawled all over and ate trails into, corn that the corn worms found, zucchini that hid under a leaf until it grew too big and seedy or even peppers that got knocked off the plant too soon. Everything gets chopped up and fed to the chickens.

cheap chicken feed

I cut off any moldy spots, but if I find some corn worms or cabbage worms...I just leave them. That's extra protein! I chop the whole bunch of veggies up and add in any weekly leftovers, stale bread etc. The chickens and Guineas love it and as I've said before: the more free feed I can give them, the more the feed bill goes down. 

I also grow a few plants just for them. Mostly 'volunteer' tomato plants that just sorta pop up on their own. I'm sure it's from tomatoes dropping the year before, but the seedlings grow wherever they want and I tend to just leave them if I can and then harvest the veggies for the chickens. This year I forgot that I started green pepper plants from seed and bought some seedlings at the nursery. I planted the extra seedlings and fed the extra peppers to the chickens. 

I think of it this way, If I save seeds this year then my expense for the plant is $0. To plant them in the ground may take a few minutes but it doesn't cost me any money. I fertilize with chicken poop tea which takes a few minutes each time, but it's free also. I water with duck pond water. Also free (and needs replaced regularly anyway) 

Each plant produces upwards of 3lbs of veggies, depending on the plant of course. I would guess tomatoes and cucumbers to be closer to 6lbs each. That's a lot of free feed! Plus I'm adding lots of vitamins and nutrients to their diets. Produce laying in the run attracts bugs which the chickens eat which means more protein in their diet also. A varied diet makes for happier chickens and brighter egg yolks. Plus it's an easy way to make a dent in the food bill. 

Happy gardening!


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  1. I'm with ya! My chickens (and pig) are extra happy these days when I head out into the barnyard with their afternoon snack enhanced with garden "extras". Our floods here in Colorado kinda wrecked my tomatoes - a loss for us, but it's fun to watch a happy chicken!

    1. My tomatoes didn't work out quite as well as I'd hoped this year either. The chickens do love them though, don't they?


  2. Thank you for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist! We're live again this week. Come on over and share what you've been working on!