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Orchid Meadows research project reveals what hens really eat

Meet head-hen Katy. She’s been with us now for two years and during that time we’ve had a valuable insight into the feeding patterns of poultry, based on intensive observation of Katy and her sisters Jackie and Sara.

A special feed-mix has been developed for hens called layers’ pellets. It’s got all the nutrients packed together with things to make it taste irresistible to their target. Think of it as a super oat granola with extra honey, nuts, cherries and pieces of chocolate. It’s also specially formulated to help hens lay eggs. They must love it!

Not really. We know better. Here’s a list of things we’ve actually watched them eating, in order of increasing preference:

No. 10. Layers' pellets

No. 9: Bits of gravel

No. 8: Grass seeds straight off the plant

No. 7: Insects

No. 6: Earthworms

No. 5: Special corn-mix for poultry

No. 4: Strawberries and blackberries

No. 3: Gooey bits of mice that the cats won’t eat

No. 2: Frogs’ legs

And at No. 1, it’s… Horse manure containing grass seeds that have somehow survived the journey through the horse. Delicious!

We will be submitting these findings to the Journal of Higher Poultry Research next week.

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