We use Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) for our chickens instead of corn.
Especially in colder weather, I supplement our birds extra protein, where most people supplement more grain, usually corn.
I have a few reasons for doing it differently.
First off, BOSS is roughly 17% protein, 44% fat, 24% NDF (fiber)¹
Corn, however, is broken down 8.8% protein, 9.7% NDF
Nutritionally speaking, BOSS has more to offer my birds.
Molting also typically happens in the colder months, fall and winter seasons, and new feather production saps their protein stores. Since the birds need their feathers to stay warm, they stop putting effort into egg laying, which also requires large quantities of protein, and they prioritize use of it instead for making feathers. Increasing their dietary protein I have found shortens the molting process and keeps the egg laying from declining as much. It’s simple really, when the birds have what they need nutritionally, they thrive. Much in the same way humans do.
In addition, I have an anaphylactic allergy to corn. So as the person most often responsible for caring for the poultry, I prefer not having to interact with things that could kill me or break me out in a crazy rash.
Cost varies. For a 25 lb bag of cracked corn, I’ve seen it available for $29.40. I’ve also seen 50 lb bags of cracked corn for less than $8 at tractor supply.
At our local co-op, a 50 lb bag of BOSS costs us around $17 and lasts a little over a month in winter, longer in the summer.
I feel that quality is more important in knowing what’s going into my food and that my birds are healthy and thriving. That means for us that our chickens are a little more expensive for us to keep during winter, but overall, I feel it pays off in the nutrition of their eggs, which taste incredible, and their overall health.
Sidenote- I’ve noticed that my birds don’t smell as bad as those fed corn. I haven’t done any research on this to prove it as fact, it’s simply my experience that when they have ample greens and no corn, there’s not a lot of odor.
Happy Chicken keeping!