Help Your Chickens Keep Their Resolution to Divert Food Waste

Here's how to combine and prepare a meal for your chickens made from food waste that they'll keep out of the trash.

by Rachel Hurd Anger
PHOTO: Rachel Hurd Anger

If a chicken could make a New Year’s resolution, what might it be? Of course, I have no idea what a chicken might resolve to do, so I decided to invent a resolution that benefits both them and my kitchen.

My flock’s resolution: Repurposing food waste as part of a healthy diet.

Whether the goal is diverting food waste from the landfill, the drain or the compost bin, when food waste can be reused, it should be reused.

When I think about diet, food, feed, leftovers, eggs, juicy bugs and even my own goals to eat more healthfully (sans bugs), it’s always important for me to remember food as the energy source it is. It’s fascinating to consider the energy conversion of chicken feed into a chicken egg. When chickens eat healthful supplements in addition to feed, something as simple as eating grass clippings raises eggs’ nutritional value substantially. Because grass clippings aren’t available in the middle of winter, let’s feed the flock some food waste.

Feeding flocks our leftovers does four things:

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  1. Keeps food out of landfills
  2. Repurposes food past its prime
  3. Saves on feed costs
  4. Converts energy into fresh eggs

The best leftovers for chickens are nutrient-dense ones. Today, I’m cleaning out my fridge for my flock, and I’m going to share with you what I throw together. You can do the same, and you don’t need a recipe. Just use common sense. Know which foods are healthy, which are dangerous, and keep as much waste out of the trash as possible.

Chickens’ Soup

chickens divert food waste
Rachel Hurd Anger

1. Raid the Refrigerator

Clean out the fridge. I found peas and corn from a few nights ago, turkey drippings from a breast I roasted in the crockpot yesterday, spinach with a best-by date only Santa could love, apple scraps from this morning, and the remaining cereal and milk from my kids’ breakfast.

2. Cook

Cook it! The only reason for cooking this concoction is to wilt the spinach. My flock eats fresh greens in the summer, but if I want to get rid of this spinach, I don’t want them to have to work hard for it. Plus, warm food is a great chicken treat on a cold, January day.

3. Add to the Mix

Throw in other stuff. I added a handful of oats and another handful of aging lentils that I’d normally sprout for the flock.

4. Let It Cool

This is the most difficult step because you are excited to serve it. Say to yourself, “Hey! This actually smells pretty good.”

5. Add Supplements and Serve

When the soup has cooled, add any supplements you give your chickens, like probiotics. I added a splash of apple cider vinegar. Then, serve, and get out of their way.

Because your chickens can’t make a resolution, do it for them. Commit to diverting your food waste to supplement your chickens’ diet. Be sure to feed the flock only what they’ll eat in about 20 minutes, otherwise the rest will go to waste. Save the remaining chickens’ soup in the fridge for tomorrow, or freeze it for later. In the summertime, these types of meals make great frozen treats.

Happy New Year, from my flock to yours.

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