|Eleanor & the rest of the girls love to forage for bugs.|
Providing chickens with plenty of space to munch on grass and forage for insects is a great way to supplement their diet. It's better for the chickens, and, according to some studies, better for the eggs they produce (there is still plenty of debate regarding the issue, of course). According to Mother Earth News, hens raised on pasture produce eggs with:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
Free-range hens still need a base diet of chicken feed to be as healthy as possible. We currently use an organic crumble purchased from GardenSphere in Tacoma, and our girls love the stuff. We haven't had to use any other supplements. (Crushed oyster shells can come in handy to provide extra calcium...it's mostly an issue if you find that your hens' eggs have thin shells).
A reader recently alerted us to Scratch and Peck Feed, based out of Bellingham, WA. They produce high quality chicken feed (as well as goat, sheep, and pig feed) with locally-sourced grains, and they now have a pick-up point in Tacoma! We're looking forward to trying out their chicken crumble.