Cheap ways to feed free-range chickens and Cut your cost
Free-range chickens are chickens raised on extensive systems. The chickens are allowed to roam and search for part or whole of their feed.
But for the purpose of efficiency and low-cost productivity, am going to explain to you simple ways to feed your free-range chickens for maximum output and profitability.-free-range chicken feeding guide
Free-range chickens are easy to keep, very hardy chickens which are highly resistant to disease, very healthy, and also have premium prices as compared to the caged or intensive ones, therefore I always suggest you always start free-range chickens using hybrid breeds of chickens.
The hybrid breed I always suggest for young farmers in Ghana is the Kuroiler and the Noiler breed of chickens. Feeding this chickens are easy and less costly.
Do I need to feed my free-range chickens?
Yes, you definitely need to feed your free-range chickens. Feeding them boost their growth and overall performance
when Feeding your free-range chickens you must ensure their nutrition is balanced and that will help you achieve greater results from your free-range chickens.
If you feed them well, they will lay more eggs and gain better weight. Feeding your chickens right may also prevent diseases caused by nutritional deficiency which also contribute seriously to the overall health of your chickens
What do free-range chickens need in their diet?
Free-range chickens need a balanced diet that is high in all the nutrients, an amino acid(crude protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals that they require to stay healthy and productive. The feed for your free-range chickens must contain:
Water is essential for all body functions. Free-range Chickens can live for several days without you feeding them but without water, they may die within a day especially during hot weather, water is life.
Water is essential as it helps in the removal of waste from the body and aids in metabolism in the chickens and helps in regulating the body temperature.
Free-range chickens need a minimum of 18% of protein their diet, Protein helps the chickens to grow,to replenish the body’s muscles, contribute to the growth and egg production.
The sources of protein are found in fish, earthworm, insect, bean, groundnut, dry Cassava leaf, duckweed, lacunae leaf
Carbohydrate as we know it is energy giving food. It enables body movement, maintains body temperature, and growth. Energy giving foods includes corn, broken rice, grain bran, Cassava meal, dry coconut flesh
Vitamin helps chickens maintain the body’s functions, produce antibodies, and strengthens their immunity to fight diseases. The sources of the vitamin can be found in green vegetable, fruits, yellow grain
Minerals help chickens develop strong bones and produce strong eggshells and also assists in a chemical reaction in the body.
Minerals chicken require in great quantities is calcium and phosphorus these minerals can be present in sea crabs, eggshell, snail shell, oyster shell.
Minerals require in small quantities include copper, zinc, iron iodine, and manganese.
Fibre to aid in digestion
Fats also provide energy as well as aids in maintaining body temperature.
Cheap Set-up of Feeders and Drinkers for free-range chickens
(DIY CHICKEN FEEDERS AND DRINKERS)
Basically, Feeders can be made in different ways. It should be made from available local materials at low cost and reduced spoiling of feed.
A good feeder must be made in such that there would be no spoilage of food. Avoid wastage of food.
Simple DIy chickens Feeders made with Local materials
Drinking water is essential for chickens and it should always be fresh and clean.
Fresh drinking water keeps chickens healthy and increases egg production.
The drinker should be made out of anything which is low cost and easy solutions such as plastic water bottles, bamboo PVC pipes, etc.
But make sure the drinker is good so as avoid to spoil water on the floor or allow young chicks to fall into it and drown,
The water trough or drinkers should be filled with fresh water daily
How to feed free-range chicks below 1 month of age.
Baby chicks in this period need to be provided with a commercial feed (containing between 22% of crude protein).
The chicks must be fed 3-4 times daily.
Commercial feed is expensive, so it should be provided to chicks during the first week only and, after, it should be mixed with local feeds in the ration 50:50 or 1:1.
How to provide feed to free-range chicken over 1 month of age?
From this stage, chicks should be fed in an average proportion 1:2 of commercial feed and local
Feed resources that are available in and around the village.
Free-range Chickens have to be provided with feed at least twice a day, in the morning and in the evening
Local feed rations can be produced from feed resources that are locally available for free or cheap to collect in and around the locality such as rice bran, broken rice, paddy rice, corn, Cassava, water lily, Leucaena leaf, the flesh of the coconut, duckweed, grass, and vegetables
Mix commercial feed with double of locally available feed resources .
How To Feed Vegetables To Free range chickens
Chickens have no teeth to cut and chew so all vegetables and grasses must be chopped into small pieces.
Fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, alfalfa, sprouts, cucumber, dandelions, watermelon, pawpaw, pumpkin are good for free-range chickens and must be planted around your farm.
Never feed your chickens with spoiled or moldy foods it will make chickens sick. Moldy foods contain toxins that are detrimental to chickens’ health.
Coconut flesh for free-range chickens
The flesh of coconuts is rich in protein content of 1.5 grams and energy 6.8 grams. It contains 4 grams of fiber,15 grams of fat per one serving.
Free range chickens feed on coconut flesh grows and fatten quickly but do not feed too much to layers as this will fatten them and will reduce the amount of egg produced.
Scrape the flesh out of the husk and give it to chickens. you can find it at the market after they squeezed the cream
Do not add more than 1/10 or 10% of your other feed to the coconut flesh.
Secondly coconut flesh should be a bit dried to get rid of the water content.
Grains To Feed your free-range chickens
|Yellow corn||flax seed|
Learn more: How to formulate these free-range chicken feed
How to Feed Free-range chickens (without grains)
A good compost heap produces a lot of insects, maggots and other sources of protein.
How to make a good compost heap
1.Clear up a good shady place with access to direct sunlight
2.Heap together of all plants materials, weeds, harvest residues, old litter, and other manure and cover it.
3. Spray water regularly over and turn the heap upside once every month.
4. After months leave it open and continue turning. maggot that young during the turning points are a great source of protein introduce your chicken to eat those white maggots and flies that pop up.
The last but not least, another cheap feeding option available for free-range chicken is growing mealworms or black soldier flies
How to cultivate black soldier fly
Step 1: Find a Container
Step 2:Add your substrate( that is the attractant of the black soldier fly) you can sue the carcass or intestines of any animal.or carefully prepared rice bran and banana mixed to prepare the substrate.
3. Place pieces of wood on top of your container. The black soldiers may lay their eggs on the wood place on top of the wood or directly lay inside if the carcass is used.
4. Place the eggs into a growing container and feed them. Within a month they will grow very good and feed them to your chickens alive.
You should wash them and sieve them to be healthier and feed them to your free-range chickens
Another source of feed for free range chicken is by growing Azolla. Read More on Azolla here and its importance to global warming here
For any questions leave a comment and if you don’t understand anything am always available to answer your questions.