In years gone by, chooks survived purely on the kitchen scraps. While kitchen scraps are a welcome way to add variation and texture to your chickens' diet, casting a critical eye over their intake can ensure that your chooks lay the maximum amount and maximum quality of eggs.
Naturally, a chicken diet will include protein from small insects and worms. If you have a compost heap, this can be a great source of protein for your chooks, and they will usually naturally search for bugs if allowed to roam freely. Protein in a mix or pet foods can come from animal sources such as fish meal as well as non animal sources such as brewers yeast as well as common seeds and grains including oats, sunflower seeds and lentils.
Happy and busy chooks burn lots of energy on their regular movement around the yard. Whole grains and kitchen scrap such as bread crusts are a great way to keep their carbohydrate level high so they have enough spare energy to turn into beautiful eggs.
Chickens need some hard, nonsoluble food known as grit, which sits in their gut and helps them to grind down the hard seeds and insect bodies into easily digestible food. This can come from natural foraging in the dirt for truly free range chooks, but many backyard birds need some supplemental grit in their diet to stay healthy.
Greens provide a healthy mix of important vitamins, as well as extra moisture. Free range chooks will naturally snack on grasses, and leaves and kitchen scraps such as peelings and cores can be a great supplement for backyard chooks. Many amateur chook keepers find that their eggs become more tasty and have larger yolks as the chooks get a diet with more variation in fresh scraps.
A calcium supplement
If your chicken's diet is not naturally high in calcium, you can help to ensure that their eggs have strong shells by supplementing with calcium. High calcium supplements can come from egg shells, chalk dust or commercial available supplements which are often made from crushed shell. When chickens lack calcium, eggs may be less frequent, soft shelled or misshapen.
A varied and interesting diet with a good balance of nutrients can help your chooks to stay happy and healthy. Happy and healthy chooks will lay more eggs, and many people find these eggs taste better too!