Chickens and pigs can forage on pasture for a great deal of their food, but do require supplemental feed to meet their nutritional requirements. A rule of thumb is that they can get about 10-30% of their nutrition from forage. You might ask, how do they survive in the wild? Part of the answer to that is that they are not confined and can move to "richer ground" seasonally and as they need to. But in a normal homestead situation, poultry and pigs will need supplemental feed.
You can reduce the amount of store-bought feed by growing some feed sources and creative scrounging from local farms. Growing grains seems obvious, but consider growing crops such as turnips, mangel beets, winter squash, pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potatoes, too. Dairy products are a good supplement for both pigs and poultry, and dairies or small producers might let you have some of their un-salable product. Other sources include spent grains from a local brewery, or vegetable waste from local canneries. A member in SC asks neighbors if he can rake acorns in their woods and comes home with his truck bed full. Another farmer has a deal with a couple farms who raise sweet potatoes to turn his pigs into their fields after the harvest. They glean the remaining roots and eat the plants. The same can be done in orchards after the harvest, this works great for both pigs and poultry. And what about raising earthworms to feed your pigs and poultry, or sources for meat scraps? Poultry and pigs are omnivores, and will appreciate these high protein feeds.
|Mangel Beets. Photo from Seed Savers Exchange.|
Many heritage breeds are active foragers, especially if they have been selected to do well on pasture. Among the chicken breeds, some are more active than others. The Mediterranean breeds are typically good foragers with high egg production but are lightweight birds (though I've eaten many a Leghorn cockerel). Among the dual purpose birds, most are good foragers, such as Dorking, Java, Buckeye, Dominique, Holland, Chantecler, & Crevecoeur. Waterfowl are good grazers too, and some ducks rival chickens in egg production.
What creative sources have you found to feed your pigs and poultry? have you found any good books or websites that compare different feeds?