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Anybody providing 100% of their animals feed from their own land?

 
Jay Peters
Posts: 74
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi All,

I don't have chickens, and have posted this same question regarding pigs too, but I'm curious who has been able to completely or nearly cut outside feed sources for their animals in favour of homegrown/foraged and how they're doing it.

I'm particularly interested in terms of those who need to overwinter animals indoors for long-ish periods. I would like to eventually invest in some small livestock, with the hope I could eventually feed them off my land solely...but its all hypothetical for me at this point. I'm in NB, Canada, so its of particular interest to know how folks are doing it when forage/grazing is not available part of the year. The most common sources of winter feed seem to be things that are mostly grown in vast monocultures. Grains and Hay come to mind for various different creatures...i've also seen cabbage grown as feed out here. Is anyone growing enough of these staples to overwinter their animals? If so are you doing it via some sort of polyculture? If yes what kind of harvesting methods are used? Maybe you're still purchasing or bartering for feed, but you're getting it from a permie neighbor specializing in such things..if so, what are their growing practices?

I'm currently reading gaia's garden and came across the section where Toby breaks down the amount of feed chickens require and how its not particularly feasible to feed them from your own products. I'm interested in livestock down the road but really would prefer if the feed could be provided by the landscape. Maybe chickens are just the wrong animals if you have these desires?

I'm sure you all see what I'm getting at.

Thanks!
j
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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This time of year I have zero feed bill for two mini donkeys, 6 sheep and 15 or so chickens. I got 5 acres, that move the sheep and donkeys around on. I got more grass than they can handle at the moment. I have one crab apple tree that is dropping apples right now. That alone has been keeping them from eatting much grass. If I was going to do pigs I would plant lots of nut trees. . Last year I put up some sunchokes for winter fodder and plan expanding my sunchoke patch in the future. In the winter months I feed 15 square bales monthly and go threw a couple bags of cracked corn for the chickens. I do buy dog food, but a lot of days I feed my dogs fresh eggs instead of kibble.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Our hens could raise their babies on just stuff they found in the woods/lawn all summer but in the winter we had to feed them - sunflower seeds went over really well & they didn't even need to be shelled. We had wineberries, mulberries, black cherries, and other fruit they ate but they also ate a lot of bugs and stuff they found in the leaf mould under the trees.
 
Jesse Newcome
Posts: 30
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I was for about two months then the fox started hunting at all hours of the afternoon and ruined it all. Take a look at the difference... the yolk on the right was from a couple weeks back when they were 100% free range and I wasn't giving them any feed at all. The one on the left is what they look like after returning to layer pellets.
IMG_1661.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1661.JPG]
 
Emily Robertson
Posts: 1
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I have not raised chickens without purchased feed, but I know it must be possible. People have been keeping chickens for ~27,000 years, and feed stores don't go back nearly that far. The secret to 100% forage fed chickens is to not have too many, and not expect them to grow or lay like grain-fed birds.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1253
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I'm running a paddock shift system with 2 pigs and 120ish chickens. The pigs do just fine on their own and find more than enough to be gaining weight at a good pace. My Layer birds do just fine without feed but I do toss some non-medicated chick starter around specific areas to encourage them to rough up certain weedy spots. This also help with motivating the younger meat birds (10weeks old) to scratch around a lot more too. I provide about 10 gallons of collards and other greens daily as well all the garden and kitchen waste. I could go without the store bought feed but it really helps when you're trying to turn high grass and scrub into green pasture again. pigs and chickens will dig deep for a little bit of "candy".

I'm growing mangles, pumpkins, field peas and sunflowers to get me as far into winter as I can without buying pellets but it will eventually happen. Every year, I buy less feed and grow more of my own. It's only a matter of time before I'm 100%.
 
Bob Anders
Posts: 45
Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA
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We grow more hay than we need for our cows and sell a little every year. I try to have 5 months left over in the spring in case of a bad year. When your hay stockpile gets to big we lease a chunk of our land to a sheep farmer to keep it mowed down.
I do but a pallet of chicken grit, 400 gallons of molasses, a pallet of salt and 2 pallets of minerals most years.

I have more of a farming back round so I look at it more that just feed. I look at the droppings from the animals and what they will be returning back to my soils.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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