Win a copy of Homegrown Linen this week in the Plant Fibers forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
  • Devaka Cooray
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Carla Burke
  • jordan barton
  • Leigh Tate
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • thomas rubino

Mixing my own chicken feed - what needs to be in it?

 
Posts: 61
Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
30
hugelkultur kids forest garden books chicken writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have four hens on about 1/3 of an acre in winter and about half of that in summer (rest is vegetable garden which they will not be allowed to ravage between May and September). They now get an organic grain mix which also contains alfalfa pellets. They don't like the pellets - they leave them. Right now, they are averaging about 65 grams of feed per chicken per day (and that includes the alfalfa which ends up on the compost heap). The rest they forage - they have access to the compost pile, and the entire garden with plenty of greens - and I daresay they also find their share of bugs and seeds.

Considering their relatively small space I have to supplement with grains. I would like to have a mix that doesn't have the pellets though (and that is still affordable). I can get a bag of 25 kilos of mixed corn, wheat and barley, but I worry whether that will give them the nutrients they need. Would I need to add anything like peas, lupine or soy? Could I add dried mealworms? Or would they be fine with the corn/wheat/barley-mix combined with what they forage?

 
Posts: 100
Location: Far Northern California Coast, Far South Pacific Northwest
17
hugelkultur fungi chicken
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In a very similiar situation. During the winter I can wrap my garden and let the ladies out to forage but in the summer the garden is too large and they are limited to the tractor and what I provide. I've been experimenting with mixing grain for the past few months with some success but this calculator helps me feel much more confident. You are on the right track, my ladies love barley, red wheat and lentils (their custom mix is much more than that.) Dried mealworms are amazing but expensive. Trying to get my teen to raise them but he is at the "why me" stage. Also looking into black soldier fly larva. We give them kitchen scraps, including meat, rodent carcasses and random scoops from the compost bin for treats. I shoot for 17% protein for the working girls and provide 1/2c. fermented grain feed per bird each day. They also have dry scratch available all the time in the coop.

https://www.gardenbetty.com/garden-bettys-chicken-feed-calculator-for-determining-your-protein-content/
 
gardener
Posts: 2553
Location: southern Illinois.
669
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The above post addresses the general needs. I use a mix of equal amounts of oats, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds.  I then toss in some oyster shell.
 
John F Dean
gardener
Posts: 2553
Location: southern Illinois.
669
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use meal worms as a treat.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 1615
Location: Denmark 57N
445
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do remember that if you feed any meat product you cannot even give away the eggs. (Assuming NL follows the general EU rules on that) You'll need to add more protein if you want eggs on that diet. Mine also hated alfalfa I could get them to eat some by soaking the whole mix in water for 12 hours that way the pellets break up into mush and coat the grains so a small part of it does get eaten. I also tried black oats, they got left until last but they would eat them when pushed. I would try peas or rapeseed meal if you can get it. the peas will probably need soaking to make them palatable.

I was feeding a mix of boiled potato and pumpkin soaked barley, rye, black oats and alfalfa my old breeds did fine on it but the production layers did not, so I feel they were not getting enough protein there as they actively avoided the alfalfa and black oats.
 
Melonie Corder
Posts: 100
Location: Far Northern California Coast, Far South Pacific Northwest
17
hugelkultur fungi chicken
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Skandi Rogers wrote:Do remember that if you feed any meat product you cannot even give away the eggs. (Assuming NL follows the general EU rules on that) You'll need to add more protein if you want eggs on that diet.



Interesting, what is the reasoning behind that law? Is it due to large industry or?

My girls will grab any rodent, reptile or amphibian that wanders across their path. Just giant bugs to them!

 
Sanna Heijnis
Posts: 61
Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
30
hugelkultur kids forest garden books chicken writing
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Melonie, thank you so much for that link, I will definitely download the calculator!

Looks like the corn/wheat/barley mix is a good start then. I can easily get black sunflower seeds to add as well. Hemp seeds too. Oyster shell they already get, separately though (would it be better to mix it in with the rest?). I could grow limited amounts of quinoa or lupine, but not even close to enough for feeding them all year. We do have lots of lambs' quarters growing around. At the end of last season I piled all the stalks with the dried seeds separately from the compost pile, and the ladies just helped themselves to the seeds. I also grow sunflowers but the wild birds (tits and finches) get most of those. I'd like to find some peas but could so far only find peas for human consumption and that looks way too costly.

I once saw a thread on the self-breeding fly larvae bucket and that might be worth a try in fly season. I don't have the space to try and breed mealworms, or I would - it's supposedly quite simple. Any dead rodent we find now gets tossed to the chickens (if they don't find it first), and they go full dinosaur with them! But it could go in the larvae bucket, as could the occasional rat we catch.

In the EU you are not allowed to feed other animals to animals that produce anything for human consumption. I think it is from the Kreuzfeld Jacob (mad cow disease) outbreak in the nineties, which appears to have been caused by cows eating cows.
 
Melonie Corder
Posts: 100
Location: Far Northern California Coast, Far South Pacific Northwest
17
hugelkultur fungi chicken
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You're welcome, I had tried numerous searches and never stumbled upon it until here. I think a lot of legumes could take the place of peas, lentils being one. Maybe they are easier to come by?

Thank you on the explanation for the meat law, bummer they can't see the big picture. The maggot bucket is something I've considered too but our coop is less than ten feet from our garden and the smell would be strong.  For me it's a good idea to keep in mind if the need is every there but don't want one now.
 
Sanna Heijnis
Posts: 61
Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
30
hugelkultur kids forest garden books chicken writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I've read, it should hardly smell at all. We're in a suburban-like area, so if it smells it's a no go.

I'm going on a legume-hunt then! Want to be able to stay away from soy.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
Posts: 1615
Location: Denmark 57N
445
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Melonie Corder wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:Do remember that if you feed any meat product you cannot even give away the eggs. (Assuming NL follows the general EU rules on that) You'll need to add more protein if you want eggs on that diet.



Interesting, what is the reasoning behind that law? Is it due to large industry or?

My girls will grab any rodent, reptile or amphibian that wanders across their path. Just giant bugs to them!



As Sanna said it's a safety issue, it gets even worse, you cannot feed kitchen scraps or anything that has been in your kitchen, so when I feed potatoes if I boil them in the barn that is fine, if I boil them on the cooker in my kitchen that is not fine. But I'm pretty sure that my kitchen is cleaner than the barn! If they chickens are entirely for your own use you may feed them whatever you wish.
 
Sanna Heijnis
Posts: 61
Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
30
hugelkultur kids forest garden books chicken writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, so I'm researching ingredients and using this calculator. My aims are less waste (alfalfa pellets not being eaten) and cheaper feed (by mixing it myself). I'm looking for organic ingredients, btw.

What I'm finding out:

Mixes of corn/wheat or corn/wheat/barley or even corn/wheat/barley/peas are accessible, but from what I understand these mixes lack protein (the mix with the peas says 9,7% and I suppose the rest is even less then), so I would need to supplement those with other foods. I can get sunflower seeds to mix in. I could also find hemp seeds or mealworms but they are expensive. I might be looking in the wrong places, but I cannot find any legumes here (for animal feed). So putting a feed together myself that has enough protein is either very difficult or way more expensive. I could probably find more and cheaper ingredients overseas, but I want to avoid all those food miles. I also do not have time and space to cook, soak and/or sprout things for my chickens on a daily basis at the moment. The way it looks now is that I would be better off with the mix I'm giving, and make my peace with the leftover alfalfa pellets...

Am I abandoning ship too soon? It was worth the effort anyhow because now I understand way more about what my girls need, but it would have been nice to put some of it into practice!
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
Posts: 1615
Location: Denmark 57N
445
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sanna Heijnis wrote:Okay, so I'm researching ingredients and using this calculator. My aims are less waste (alfalfa pellets not being eaten) and cheaper feed (by mixing it myself). I'm looking for organic ingredients, btw.

What I'm finding out:

Mixes of corn/wheat or corn/wheat/barley or even corn/wheat/barley/peas are accessible, but from what I understand these mixes lack protein (the mix with the peas says 9,7% and I suppose the rest is even less then), so I would need to supplement those with other foods. I can get sunflower seeds to mix in. I could also find hemp seeds or mealworms but they are expensive. I might be looking in the wrong places, but I cannot find any legumes here (for animal feed). So putting a feed together myself that has enough protein is either very difficult or way more expensive. I could probably find more and cheaper ingredients overseas, but I want to avoid all those food miles. I also do not have time and space to cook, soak and/or sprout things for my chickens on a daily basis at the moment. The way it looks now is that I would be better off with the mix I'm giving, and make my peace with the leftover alfalfa pellets...

Am I abandoning ship too soon? It was worth the effort anyhow because now I understand way more about what my girls need, but it would have been nice to put some of it into practice!



Try soaking the whole lot for 12 or 24 hrs it makes the alfalfa turn to mush and stick to everything else so some gets eaten.  If you go with wheat/barley/rye mixes with no maize you get a higher% protein. maize is just empty carbs so avoid it if you are struggling. have a look in the local free adds or equivalent for black oats, it's sold to horse owners and has 18-24% protein so is good to bump the count up. I'm pretty sure you will find peas for sale as animal feed, they will be called fodder peas I can find the seeds for sale in Belgium so they most certainly exist but I cannot with google translate get any further Here are some french peas That link might give you some terms to search with. With them leaving the alfalfa they are not getting the nutrition they need.

Before I went with a fully home made feed I went with a feed concentrate you guy it in bags and then you add 3 parts of wheat/barley/ etc to it it's a good half way house if you cannot source enough products.
 
Sanna Heijnis
Posts: 61
Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
30
hugelkultur kids forest garden books chicken writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for the link! I am specifically looking for organic though, and that seems to be a lot harder to come by.

I'd really like to try the soaking thing. But my mother-in-law is the one usually feeding the chickens, because she lives across the street from the garden and we live about 3 km away. For various reasons, she does not have the mental or physical resources to cope with any added work (or any change in routine really) required from her. With schools closed because of lockdown (and having to homeschool as a consequence), and winter being cold, wet and windy at the moment (not at all attractive according to my son), it is hard for me to spend as much time with the chicks as I would like! I could still do a little bit of soaking though, to give to them when I do go. They also get kitchen scraps several times a week. I'm going to think about how we can make it work a little for now, and hopefully more later :-)
 
Joel Salatin has signs on his property that say "Trespassers will be Impressed!" Impressive tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic