im wanting to raise broiler chickens in the beat way possible. im feeding my layers fermented whole grains but I can't find much online about feeding whole grains to broilers... ideally soy free. any suggestions?
also rationing plans for growing them more slowly would be cool. 12 week broilers?
Are you intending to use fermented or sprouted whole grains?
Sounds like a good spot to experiment. I read somewhere not to feed whole grains to birds under a month of age, but they were likely referring to dry grains. We soak the wheat we give our ducks as that supposedly increases the Vit C content and I think it may make other things more bioavailable also. I've never tried this with broilers. It will be interesting to see what responses you get!
I've been trying to feed my chicks crumble but their mom (hen) keeps feeding them whole grains from the hen feeder. Plus they're eating all the stuff they can find outside anyway. So it seems like 2+ week old chicks might be able to handle whole grains. My hens sure seem to like the whole grains.
since the broilers are not going to be raised forever. i imagine they will do completely fine on sprouted grain and forage from the chickentractor. We started our current layers on whole soaked grain at around 3 weeks. once they feathered out. One thing soaking does is it provides the food and water at the same time so they will need to drink less water. not much but less. What we fed ours was called chicken scratch, it had wheat/barley/lentil. no soy.
Its real helpful if you move the chicken tractor everyday. I am sure you know this however.
thanks folks. I am three days in to experimenting with feeding them fermented whole grains. I'll let you know how it goes. im just amazed that there is not more info out there and confused as to why. a farmer friend said that he doesn't feed his broilers whole grain (when he does his layers) "because the breed is more fragile". he thinks the heritage breed layers can handle more than these comercially bred meet birds and he doesn't want to get whole grain ratios wrong and have them get less than enough protein and die.
it might just be that most people raising meet birds aren't permaculturalists and there is a lot of pressure to have them grow to size in 8 weeks.
I'm trying to raise mine to size in 12 weeks(because that's the earliest date the slaughter place could give me) by restricting feed at night.
I just hope I'm not compromising the birds' health by not giving them the right stuff and asking them the live longer than they are meant to.... but then, I have heard of meat birds living a few years when fed less.
Only real issue I see with whole grains, especially if avoiding soy, is getting the protein level high enough. Broilers, and I'm assuming you're raising cornish-cross here, are bred to grow really fast, and they're ALWAYS hungry. They will stuff their crops at every opportunity, especially if you're restricting feed to try to slow their growth. My suggestion is that if you need/want a longer grow out would be to get a different breed. Freedom Rangers grow to a really good size in 10-11 weeks, so going to 12 wouldn't be a big stretch for them.
Regardless of what you do, if you're growing them out longer watch them carefully as they get closer to the slaughter day. Any that just don't look like they're as active or healthy as the rest should be processed by you right away. I raised 113 Freedom Rangers. Only lost 3 to mortality. 2 weren't looking good half a week to a week before slaughter so I processed them as soon as I noticed it. As close as they were to target slaughter day I wasn't about to chance them dying on me and being unsalvageable.
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