• 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
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Stacie Kim
  • Jay Angler

How can I further reduce chicken feed consumption

 
Posts: 73
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
4
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
I've got 7 hens and a rooster in about a quarter acre paddock.  It has an abundance of plant growth for them to feed upon.  During the winter months they go through about 5 gallons of feed a week.  I was hoping that the new paddock would all but eliminate the feed consumption during the growing season.  

Unfortunately, it has not.  They still consume about 3 gallons of feed a week.  

Any suggestions?
 
author & steward
Posts: 2069
Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
1153
goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steve, it sounds like you've made good progress on your goal. One thing I found to help was to move our compost piles into the chicken yard. They adore digging through the scraps and the bonuses were less feed and faster compost.

Another thing you can do is to sprout grain for them. That can cut the feed usage by up to 70%. Permies actually has PEP badge for that. You can find directions and videos here.
 
master steward
Posts: 5765
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1738
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with Leigh about sprouting their grain.  It is an easy way to grow food for them.

That link has some great videos of how to do it and even recipes on how to blend the feed to make the sprouts.

Be sure to take some pictures next winter so you can complete the badge bit!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1128
Location: Southern Oregon
304
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That seems like a lot of feed. I have 10 hens and a rooster and I go through about 2 gallons of food a week. They get food scraps and weeds and whatnot. Are you free feeding? My birds get a quart a day in the morning. The rest of the day I expect them to peck about in the weeds and scraps. Granted three of the birds are young, but I'm still getting 6-8 eggs a day.
 
pollinator
Posts: 366
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Make sure rats aren't eating their feed.  We burned through a lot of feed before we realized just how much the rats were eating.   100 lbs of feed a year per bird is a rough estimate to judge by.

Saw something once about using a light to attract bugs for feed.  I've never tried it, but always thought it interesting.  

Also saw something about using carcasses (roadkill, etc) to grow maggots to feed them.  Then saw something about listeria problems with the method so I never pursued it, but might be something to check out.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1987
Location: Denmark 57N
501
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would agree that sounds to high, are they wasting a lot of feed by throwing it on the ground? Can wild birds get to the feed and is there any evidence of mice/rats?
 
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
117
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A comment on sprouts reducing feed consumption that is one of the ones that is wrong unless you raise the sprouts to extreme size.  Think of it this way.  A seed contains X amount of stored energy.  It takes Y amount to produce the sprout that it actually burns up sprouting.  So in the short term the food value of the sprout actually goes down.  Eventually it will make enough other stuff to make up for that loss.  But in the short term a sprout actually increases the total amount of feed needed.  Now it has some other advantages as green feed has different nutrients available.

Do a search for feeding cattle sprouts in a drought out of Australia.  You will find a guy talking about all the gains made feeding sprouts.  Then check the articles that debunk this and show how the total feed needs go up rather than down.  But they also note that in most cases the livestock eating sprouts tends to be healthier.

Now you will find chickens will eat a certain amount of grain if the have it available.  Watch bird health and reduce it some.  Also the people talking about rodents and waste have serious points that should be considered.
 
Steve Shelton
Posts: 73
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
4
solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, I am free feeding.  
 
Steve Shelton
Posts: 73
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
4
solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There is very little waste and no signs of rats or mice.  
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 1128
Location: Southern Oregon
304
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Then I would suggest not to free feed. I like to make them work for their food. If their egg production were to drop without other explanation, or they looked thin or ill, then I would up their feed. Chickens are going to have preferences just like people, sometimes it takes a little encouragement to get them to eat the things we want them to.
 
gardener
Posts: 815
Location: the mountains of western nc
186
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
what breed/s of chicken? i suspect that can have an influence on how ‘into’ kibble they are, as opposed to forage.

i currently have 7 hens and 2 roosters, with full time access to food, and i think i’ve seen a local crow swoop in and steal occasionally, and they don’t go through anywhere near that volume of food.
 
Steve Shelton
Posts: 73
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
4
solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They are ISA Browns
 
gardener
Posts: 935
Location: N. California
324
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I ferment grains.  I used to grow fodder, but read fermenting grains is even better for them, and sooooo much easier.  You put grains I use  wheat and barley.   Put water in, a container (otherwise they help themselves) making sure that even when it swells it is still covered with water. Let it set, stir or shake every day.  The time it takes depends on the weather. In the summer mine is ready in 2 days. I use 3 containers. Refill when I feed the hens, and put it in the back, shake the other two.  It's easy and doesn't take long.
In the winter it takes longer, 4 days for me, so I use 5 containers. Doing this has saved me a lot on my feed bill. I'm sorry I can't be specific because I didn't keep track.  I do know if I don't give them there fermented grains they go through layer food like there's no tomorrow.  I have 19 hens, and they get 2ish cups of grains a day. I use 1 cup wheat, 1 cup barley, and add other stuff, like oatmeal, or chia seeds, or flax seed, scratch, stuff like that to keep them healthy, maybe make the eggs more nutritious?  And to give them verity.  They love it, and it makes a huge difference on my feed cost. Some people only feed there chickens this. I figure chickens are foreigners, so a wide variety, of food seems like it would be better for them.  If you're interested there is lots on YouTube about it.  I had a hard time at first finding the grains. Don't order it on the internet, it's way to expensive. I get mine at our local farm co-op.  
Do you use crumbles?  My chickens like them best, but the pellet seem to last longer. I think there is less waist.  It is easier to find when they have flung it out of the feeder.  
I also feed them our veggie scraps, and extra garden veggies.
I also put my compost in my chicken yard. It didn't work out for me.  I know lots of people make it work, but I found I don't get any usable compost.  The chickens eat it or distribute it through the yard. I think we just don't have enough to make it work.
Good luck to you.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1716
Location: Victoria BC
268
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Stacy Witscher wrote:Then I would suggest not to free feed. I like to make them work for their food. If their egg production were to drop without other explanation, or they looked thin or ill, then I would up their feed. Chickens are going to have preferences just like people, sometimes it takes a little encouragement to get them to eat the things we want them to.



Definitely this. They currently have little incentive to eat anything that isn't notably tastier than the feed you are providing...

I had about a dozen growing dual purpose chickens last year for maybe 4 months, I think they got 60kg of pellets in total. They were in a quarter acre paddock that was shared with the pigs in smaller sections, heavily planted with daikon radish, some buckwheat, some corn... they moved to the tomato/squash garden after the first freeze.

I was worried I might be underfeeding, but they stayed healthy and when the roos went to freezer camp they had plenty of meat and a little fat on them, so it seems to have worked.

This year I got much less forage planting done, so they are starting off unfenced with effectively unlimited space, and will move into the larger paddock with lusher growth in early summer, and the quarter acre paddock after garden harvest... time will tell.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 935
Location: N. California
324
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forgot to mention the best way I have found to cut feed costs.  You get enough chickens so your getting more eggs then you need, and sell the extra.  
My sister in law insists on paying me 20.00$ for 3 dozen eggs a week.  She even gives me her old egg containers. It's very little extra effort on my part, I gather eggs everyday day anyway. I can't convince her other wise, so she insists the eggs be refrigerated. It takes me about 3 and a half days to get 3 dozen, then I text her and she picks them up.  Now I know I'm extremely lucky, but I think you can sell organic free range chicken eggs for 4 to 7 dollars a dozen depending on where you live.  With a little research you can find out how much you can get. Figure how much feed will be, how many eggs you need, then how many extra eggs to pay for it.  My organic layer crumbles and organic scratch cost me about 42.00 a month for 19 hens ( though I just learned scratch warms a chicken internally, so the cost will be half because I will stop feeding scratch for the summer.).  Every 4 to 5 months I buy a 50 lb bag of wheat and barley. The wheat is 15.00 and the barley is 20.  So if I round it together it's 50 a month to feed them organic and fermented food.  I'm getting 80. So I get a 30.00 profit each month and still have more than enough eggs for my family.  I keep the profit because I know in the winter I will have less eggs.  Some of the breeds I have are supposed to lay year round, but just in case I will have the money for feed, even if I can't sell eggs this winter.  It's not for everyone, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Besides free ranging, and not buying feed at all, it's probably the only way to keep chickens with no cost.
gift
 
Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6" L-shaped Bench by Ernie and Erica
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic