Making chicken food

In the UK it is illegal to feed kitchen waste to your hens. It is ok, however, to make feed specifically for chickens. Our hens really like a mix of oats and whey… a sort of cold porridge… so last weekend I decided to make this for them.

Whey can easily be separated out from milk using a bacterial culture. Thickening the mix by the addition of rennet makes straining the curds off much easier. And if you allow the curds to drain overnight, you maximise the amount of whey that you can extract.


Even more solids appear if you heat the whey up to nearly boiling

It’s also possible to remove extra solids from the whey by heating it to just below boiling point, allowing it to cool again and then filtering through muslin once again. I started with 3 litres of whole milk and ended up with about 1.5 litres of whey. Of course I had lots of waste curds, but that was ok because I turned them into soft cheese. In addition, the solids that come out of the whey as a result of heating are otherwise known as ricotta.

You see, it’s not illegal for humans to eat the waste left from making chicken feed…. how convenient!

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  1. What is the reason behind not feeding them kitchen scraps?

    • In the past ‘industrial’ farms have fed all sorts of food waste to animals and the results have been things like mad cow disease and salmonella. It’s a well-intentioned law but doesn’t really take into account ultra small scale producers who know exactly what’s in their food waste and could easily be guided about its suitability to feed to livestock.

  2. Ann Pole

     /  December 27, 2015

    Is this law realistic? Who would know? Especially if the household is vegetarian…. (Rhetorical question). Your cheeses look good though. 🙂 X

  3. Hens were kept by just about everyone when I was growing up and they were all fed on a combination of vegetable matter from the kitchen preparations and commercial chicken feed. That was partly the point of having them I think – what didn’t go to the hens went to the compost and that was the healthy cycle of life in the 50’s. 🙂

  4. nettyg

     /  December 27, 2015

    My chookies get an oats breakfast everyday, sometimes with left over rice, I add other seeds and grains….triticale and flax, or sesame. To this they get a half teaspoon of animal grade seaweed extract and some garlic. And a saucer of plain yoghurt with acidophilus, this helps push worms etc through their gut as well as noursishing them…they all rush to the yoghurt first thing when I let them out, it’s funny what they like.

  5. Mine were fed an exclusively vegetarian diet – except for what they could scratch up for themselves, and once in a blue moon, some bacon rind for the entertainment value (think chooky tug of war!). I have always had some concern about feeding dairy to hens; it’s not something that would conceivably enter their diet in their natural state so I’m not sure how well they are set up to digest it. I did give them vegetable scraps, cooked and uncooked, seeds from pumpkins and melons, crushed baked eggshell and occasionally the odd handfull of worms from the worm farm.

  6. ourworldheritagebe

     /  December 27, 2015

    How different to Belgium. Here you get encouraged by the government to give kitchen leftovers and garden waste to your chickens, as a way to reduce the garbage your household produces. Some towns even give you a free chicken to do so 🙂

  7. Love the look of that cheese…YUM!

  8. Sadly it is the case and stated on the websites.

    I distinctly remember when visiting my parents smallholding having to help put straw smothered in disinfectant down and dipping shoes/boots before entering the farm.

    Rules for keeping animals here are very strict but I agree you don’t always know what others are abiding by or if they know the various laws.

    I have tended not give vegetable scraps as a rule purely because it’s an added incentive for the rats.

    However, in saying all the negativities surrounding these rules – I love keeping hens. 😉

  9. sarahfoto

     /  December 28, 2015

    Crazy law! We feed our chickens everything vegetarian or seafood left over from the kitchen. They especially love prawns and fish! About dairy- they seem to do fine with it. On the occasions that they’ve had bad stomachs and the poop smells I give them “filmjölk” which is like a yoghurt but more sour, and it works. I have fed them whey as well and believe it’s good for them.

  10. BeckyHelps

     /  December 29, 2015

    I think there’s no way a copper will arrest someone for feeding some left over cake to a pet hen, but that in this crazy world where coppers are bias and ignore the requests of some to stop an illegal fox hunt…. well it is possible I guess.


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