There are no greens growing outside for the chickens to enjoy during our winter weather so I am growing a mixture of wheat, oats and barley in framed flats for them. It takes no time at all for them to devour the greens right down to the nubs. I remove the flat promptly, put it back in the shop and it regrows within a few days for them to enjoy again. With several flats on the go the chooks can have greens every day. I have been soaking the wheat, oats and barley seeds prior to planting the ‘greens’ flats to get them going quicker. According to my reference book these sprouted seeds are a good source of protein also. The problem, though, is ensuring that the hens eat enough oyster shell to solve the problem of soft eggshells which seems to accompany feeding extra natural grains. The commercial feed that I feed them is balanced such that extra grains throws things out of whack. I’ll get that figured out yet. I decided to let them sprout an extra couple of days and today I mixed some oyster shell right in with a feeding of sprouted grains…maybe that will make the difference.
I read up on how to encourage our chickens to lay eggs through the winter season… worms! The first plan of action was to set up a worm bin to produce enough red wrigglers to feed our small flock of ten birds. I found the info for this particular setup online.
The bin is based first with coconut coir blended with regular soil and cardboard then filled with horse manure that is picked as cleanly as possible from the neighbour’s pasture . It will not overheat in it’s indoor spot if there is little or no grass included. There is a narrow vent at the bottom of the bin for the worm poop to sift out through. I just run a short stick from beneath to rattle it out once a week.
The red wrigglers were purchased in the spring…2 pounds. It took a while to establish a healthy colony as I figured out the ideal moisture content…not too wet vs not too dry. As soon as the weather got too cold to find worms in the outdoor compost I began a daily harvest of 20 to 30 worms to feed to the chickens. They love their treat and egg-laying is still going strong. Our neighbours that have hens report that their egg-laying is depleted to almost zero.