The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Windfall apples for the chickens

Carol in Roman Empress modeChickens are strange creatures. I tossed in some windfall apples this morning and they fled behind their coop, peering at them suspiciously. After a long minute or so, Mrs Boss picked her way over to the nearest apple and regarded it closely with her head on one side. She took a quick bite and then another. By the time she was really tucking in, she was joined by the others.I can’t understand why Mrs Boss, a small bantam and bottom of the pecking order, is our most courageous chicken when ‘new food’ is introduced. The two just don’t go together. It wasn’t long this morning before Carol, a much bigger Maran hen, had chased Mrs Boss away from the apples. Perhaps Mrs Boss is like the Roman Emperor’s tasters. I always felt sorry for them. Did they ever get a proper meal or was it just the one bite?

Tomorrow’s eggs will have a faint flavour of apple. I once met a woman whose hens were very partial to smoked salmon. She had a part time job serving food at parties and weddings and would bring home the left-overs for her chickens. They enjoyed canapes and asparagus rolls but went crazy for smoked salmon sandwiches. The next day their eggs would have an undertone of salmon and were perfect for egg sandwiches. She never revealed the secret of that extra special zing to her family.

Tips and tricks:

  • Chickens get bored with the same diet day after day, just like us. Our hens are fed organic layers’ pellets and a handful of mixed corn tossed in each morning. The five of them rush out of the house for the mixed corn. I can collect any eggs and check that they’re all OK while they are absorbed in finding and eating the corn. If I am feeling indulgent, I spread the corn across the pen so that Mrs Boss has a chance to forage too.
  • Feed your chickens vegetable kitchen scraps only as an extra. Keep the helpings small and give them early in the day, as left over scraps will encourage vermin (rats operate minly at night).
  • Our chickens really enjoy lettuces that have gone to seed, and dandelions (the whole plant.) If you hang a cabbage in their run, at a height that they have to stretch to get at, this can often stop feather pulling and bullying.
  • Never feed your chickens meat of any kind. It is illegal. This sounds stern but it’s to avoid chickens being fed any chicken derivatives. It’s worth checking labels; chicken/poultry derivatives seem to be in a lot of foodstuff these days.


  Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,178,672 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


HG