“Vegetarian Fed” is a phrase I see on chicken in the grocery store all the time and you know what? It makes me angry. Chickens by nature, aren’t vegetarians. When left to themselves (though at this point wild chickens aren’t really a thing) they will eat plants and insects, worms, etc.
I love keeping our little flock of laying hens but I want them to live as close to a natural life as they possibly can. So that means that my chickens are not vegetarians.
Because of predators and living close to a very busy road, we are unable to fully free range our flock. They have a large fenced in yard to scratch and peck in as well as coop to keep them warm and dry. We are able to move the coop and yard from time to time so they can have fresh ground. Scratching and pecking at the ground gives them access to beetles and worms both of which they love to munch on.
While grain is their main food source, I supplement it with sunflower seeds and crushed shells (for calcium) as well as just about every vegetable and fruit scrap that comes out of my kitchen. My chickens are my compost pile and they love to eat cooking scraps. I even freeze some in the summer so they have something nice and cold to peck at on hot days.
We also rake our grass clippings from when we mow the lawn and lay them down in their yard. Tilly loves to feed them weeds from the garden and they’ve gotten so comfortable around her that they’ll eat them right from her hand. They have also come in handy when we find grubs and beetles in the garden. I pick any hornworms, potato beetles and other pests and put them in a cup. Once I’m done in the garden for the night I dump the cup into the chicken yard and they go nuts!
As always, please do your research and make sure you know what you are buying, especially when it comes to meat and eggs.