I really care about what I feed my family so it makes sense to me to carry this through to how & what I feed the animals on our property. Where you buy your feed supplies from will often dictate the type of advice you receive as well. When I first started hatching our own chickens I was told by the feed store that chicks could eat layer feed with out any problems and that turned out to be incorrect. I was so horrified to discover that I was putting my poor chicks at risk of developing kidney problems due to the high calcium content of layer pellets and they could also develop weak legs. Feeling somewhat confused about this lack of correct information to a novice I started doing my own research into keeping chickens and raising them too.
What I discovered is that keeping poultry doesn't seem to be a completely precise science. I have read several books and while some things are the same there are just as many differences. Feeding your flock a complete bought feed such as is offered for chicks (hatch to 8 weeks) increasing this for pullets then putting them on layer pellets from 18 weeks on it all seems to be quite cut and dried but if like me you want to feed our flock a more personalized balanced feed using more natural methods/ingredients then this isn't so cut and dried at all.
You can talk to several people who keep chickens and you will most likely get several different answers to your questions, but while some decisions are personal preference, in other cases making a bad choice could mean life or death for your chickens, or at the very least illness, discomfort or less than optimal health.
I spoil my girls and can bee seen out in the chook yard in the early morning dishing them up a plate of hot oats which they love. Laugh if you will but if I have a something hot to eat or drink on a freezing cold morning I feel warmer so why shouldn't it be the same for our chickens?
I do much the same in the heat of summer too except in reverse, during summer I freeze watermelon chunks in blocks of water along with mint & various herbs which the girls get quite frantic over too, both keeping them active and helping to cool them too. Just to change it up I will also cook them scrambled eggs (usually this is when I have too many eggs and can't get through them all), my DD thinks I am awful for giving them scrambled eggs but as I told her we are all part of a food change even the 'girls'.
As well as the above I often change their diet about by adding supplements such as: a Probiotic powder, brewer's yeast and garlic powder, DE, sea kelp, dried culinary herbal blend (I dry my herbs in summer then use them through out winter too) as well as - Treats: I give healthy treats in moderation by adding sunflower seeds, cracked corn, meal worms and such. The girls also love nasturtion flowers and berries and always make a bee line for the bed where the nasturtions grow., the bugs don't stand a chance there either as they are quickly gobbled up if spied.
I guess what I am trying to say is do your homework when you prepare the food your are going to feed your animals
I use various herbs to make cleaners for the coop that are natural as well as beneficial if anyone is interested in these, just ask as while I try to come in here regularly life often gets in my way.