Gluten Free Chicken Feed II

 

My Elvira, my first layer. Maybe extra love helped her produce.

Yes, you can easily raise your chickens on your own homemade gluten-free chicken feed, have healthy hens, and get very good eggs. I am so happy to write that. Especially that easily part.

Those of you who joined me at the start of this adventure back in February may remember my fears the chickens would all die under my inexperienced hand and choice to make homemade gluten-free feed. But here we are, I’m still healthy, and the girls are not only still alive, but thriving in a beautiful manner! They have at last begun laying fine-formed eggs with good hard shells. We believe we may have even gotten an egg from our little Princess Puny.

Thank you to all who wrote to encourage me, to all the people online who shared their knowledge– you can see the links in the previous posts on our chicken adventure.

They are still wet from rinsing. Our first day to get 4!

Now, there might be some question as to whether or not gluten goes through the feed to the egg, but, astonishingly, (my people might say, “Well, shut my mouth!”) it has been shown that soy is present in sizable amount in the yolk of eggs from hens fed heavily on soy. I saw the research paper online, but have lost the link — Google it for yourself, I don’t have time right now. Suffice to say, there are now producers of organic soy-free eggs, and I did save that url– Soy-free eggs here. As I find I’m sensitive to soy, I’m grateful I decided not to bother with adding soy to my recipes.

Here are my current recipes:

Basic Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Grain and Seed Mix
16 cups cracked corn
16 cups milo
6 cups rolled oats
13 cups hulled sunflower seeds

The above recipe makes approximately 30 pounds. I put a few cups in their feeders about twice a day, and they throw it all around (I think they holler whoopee!) in order to peck it off the ground.

Morning Mash
8 cups of the Basic Mix
1 heaping cup white rice, cooked (makes about 2-3 cups)
1 cup green split peas, thrown on top of the rice to soften while it steams.
1/2 cup brewer’s yeast
1/2 cup powdered milk
3 Tablespoons unsulphured molasses stirred into a cup of warm water, then added to the mix.
I make this in a Kitchenaid mixer about every 5 days. The stainless mixing bowl holds the amount comfortably. I make it up, put it in a large plastic zippy bag and store it in the refrigerator. I then feed approximately 3 cups each day to 8 chickens.

Notes:
I theorize the Morning Mash provides extra protein and nutrients. I cook the rice because, well, the chickens seem to like it, and I’ve read some stuff that indicates maybe cooking makes the nutrients more available in digesting. I use white rice bought in a 50 pound bag from Sam’s. I’ve been using hormone-free, fat-free, powdered milk but want to find whole- fat powdered milk. Molasses is listed in a number of commercial starter feeds. I discovered it excellent to bind the milk powder and the yeast to the grains, and it contains good amounts of iron and calcium and other nutrients. I long for feed peas for my basic mix like another woman might long for diamonds. Peas are far superior to soybeans, but not easily available in my area. I make due with the green split peas, bought from Walmart, and put it only in their Morning Mash. Peas with the other grains make a whole protein. The girls like the green, I think.

If you can get organic in all of these ingredients, do so! I cannot, and we see that we’re all still here.

In addition to this feed, the hens receive vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps. For a time, I had raw fish for them. Me and Sweetie-Pie love watermelon, and so do our girls. Often I have raw goat milk, or goat yogurt– they love it! The girls also free range each evening for a couple of hours. Once they form the firm habit of laying eggs in the hen house, I’ll be letting them free range often throughout the day. They adore the compost pile–worms and bugs, yumm!

Big Sister, our Ameraucana, who lays the blue-green eggs.

Today we have retrieved three eggs from the hen house. The excitement remains. It is like getting little jewels. The incredible, edible egg…out of a chicken’s butt. Amazing.

 

National Celiac Awareness Month– and the Gluten-Free Chicken Adventure Continues

May is National Celiac Awareness Month. I don my celiac advocacy hat. Darlings, do you have migraines? Tingling hands and feet? Gained or lost a lot of weight. Chronic fatigue? You have my prayers, and urge to get yourself over to check out the info on celiac disease at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website. You can read my own compelling story about discovery of my celiac disease here.

Do gluten-free chickens look the same as other chickens when they cross a road? Or in this case, sit on a perch?

I had a letter from a reader, Miss Deb, who is gathering information for starting up her own gluten-free backyard chicken adventure. Below is my response. (I never want to waste good writing or advice.)

Hello, Deb. Thanks so much for writing. It is always heart-warming, dare I say instant-friend-producing, to meet another celiac/gluten-intolerant person and backyard chicken enthusiast. I know you know, as no other person can know. Everyone in my household is either celiac or gluten-intolerant, too, so I maintain a gluten-free haven.

You have asked for my thoughts on the matter of keeping gluten-free chickens, and here they are: As far as I know, neither eggs nor chicken meat contain gluten. What might be happening to you and your family is a not at all uncommon allergy to eggs. Eggs are one of the top 8 allergens. I am not only gluten intolerant, but also soy intolerant, mildly dairy intolerant, and I am find I can be sensitive to chicken meat, too, a fact which may be caused by all the eggs I do eat.

My dear hens are 13 weeks old today. I don’t know how the darlings compare in size and maturity to same-age hens fed commercial wheat-containing feeds, but they and I are perfectly happy. I get my hands in the grains and seeds when mixing, and never have a worry that I’m going to be ‘glutenized’ by dust or anything under my fingernails or on my clothing. Certainly my hens show no harm whatsoever. My little Princess Puny, who seemed to have a deformity and I did not think would live, has grown and is feisty as all the others. I do not find making their feed a chore; it is quite simple, and I suspect the whole grains and seeds may be instrumental in keeping the hens parasite-free.

Thanks so much for writing. I will keep posting my gluten-free chicken raising adventure on the blog. Do let me know how your own adventure in gluten-free backyard chicken keeping goes. As far as I know, we’ll be the only ones.
Warmly,
CurtissAnn

Princess Puny, moving fast at eating breakfast.