Creating a Cheap, Easy Protein Source for Your Chickens

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    It is no secret that bugs make delicious snacks for a chicken. Since chickens are omnivores, bugs actually make up an important part of their diet and provide them with necessary protein. If you watch your chickens' natural behavior, you will see plenty of bug consumption taking place, as long as bugs are readily available.

    Photo: Garden Betty

    Something you can do for your chickens that you may not have thought of before is creating an environment hospitable to bugs. This may not sound like a great idea to some, as many of us spend our days trying to keep bugs out of our lives. No one wants creepy crawlies in or around their homes, so why encourage them to come around? Surely chickens can find enough bug nutrients on their own, right? This may be so, but there is no harm in adding an extra opportunity for a natural food source to be and remain present.

    Photo: Someone Else's Kitchen

    If you've ever been in nature and moved a log from its resting place, you probably noticed a lot of bugs. To your chickens, this would be irresistible, and the good news is that you can recreate such an environment on your own property. If you have old, downed tree limbs or lumber in a scrap pile, chances are it is at this moment crawling with bugs your chickens will enjoy. All you have to do is lead the chickens to the pile and move the debris out of the way to expose the bugs, then let 'em at it.

    Photo: Hodge Podge

    On the other hand, if you do not have a readily available scrap pile where bugs are present, it is easy to create one. All it takes is a damp, dark area that gives them shelter to attract bugs. This can be something as simple as a plank of wood laid in damp soil and allowed to remain there for several days. Peek under it periodically until you are sure insects are present, then flip the board in the presence of your chickens and allow them to snack away. When they are done, replace the board or relocate it to another similar area and allow the bugs to accumulate once more. In our yard, we even use large clay pots for this purpose. They are smaller than wooden planks (although easier on the eyes if appearance is a concern) bugs love to move into the dirt beneath them and the chickens gladly pick those areas clean on a regular basis.

    Photo: Circles of Rain

    While commercial bug traps are also available, you might as well use what you have laying around if you have access to something that will work for your needs. Even if insects are not too high on the list of things you want to invite to hang around, there is no reason to worry as your chickens will keep them in check. In the end, you will be providing a tasty, healthy snack for your birds and they in exchange will be keeping the yard free of pests in service to you!

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