I found an awesome recipe online for homemade chicken food that I've been tinkering with. Here is the site for the original recipe:
I've made a few changes myself, due to the size of my flock (close to 40 chickens) and their current diet, but I love her basic recipe.
I always try to avoid processed foods wherever possible, so when I found that recipe I ordered all of the harder to find ingredients in bulk (300 pounds altogether) and pre-mixed them. Now I can go to my local grain guy (shout-out to Doyle!), get 100 pounds of wheat/oats/barley as needed, and add a few scoops of the mix from the barrel when I put it in the feeder. I exclude the corn, but only because my hens get day-old bread almost every morning and stay fat and happy on it.
As well as free-choice whole grains, oyster shell, and kelp, our hens get some of the pig scraps each morning. Fruits, vegetables, table scraps, etc. Gives them the kind of well-rounded diet that they'd have in the wild.
We have several chickens free-ranging right now. One was bullied badly, so she gets to live out her life just cruising around the farm. 3 more have chicks.
That is actually a new experience for us! None of our hens ever went broody before, so we always got chicks from the store. But somehow we ended up with several broody hens this time, so we let 3 of them keep a nest to see what happened. Shockingly enough, chicks happened!! And when our precious chicklets started getting bullied by other hens, we decided to see what would happen if we just let them out with their momma. It's not like we were collecting eggs from the hen at that point.
We haven't lost a single chick yet... Sure, they dig holes, get into the pig scraps, and poop wherever they want, but so far it's an acceptable sacrifice. Because, well.... Chickies!!!!
Currently the rest of our chickens have a smaller pen than I'd like (only about 25x30 for 24 hens and a rooster), but we have a MUCH larger area set aside for them, we just need to get it fenced. And cross-fenced. And a new coop made...
It's a lot of work, being the Home of Happy Animals!
Our ducks are about the closest things that we have to "pets" on the farm. With our limited space, every single animal has a purpose, preferably multiple. But we got Muscovy ducks for my little brothers many years ago (see the pictures below, quickly, before they Indian-burn me until I take them down) and we just loved having them around... So since they eat slugs and mosquito larvae, and free-range successfully without us having to feed them, I got some again!
We let them do their own thing entirely, so we end up with ducklings over the summer as well, which is so much fun. We sold several of them, kept one hen, and will be putting the last 3 drakes in the freezer (Muscovy are renowned meat birds) so we don't over-populate the farm.
Each morning they get some bread with the pigs and chickens, so they stay tame and friendly, while costing us practically nothing.
Like the free-range chickens, they get into boxes of pig scraps and poop in irritating places, but they're about the cutest, funniest things you'll ever see... Watching them stealing food right out of the pigs' mouths, and pecking them on the nose if they resist, has me in stitches on a regular basis.