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Can I get some opinions on the most natural feed?

 
Jared Blankenship
Posts: 23
Location: Glasgow, KY zone 6b
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I'd love to feed my layers and red rangers organic feed. But I've called every feed store within about 50 miles, and had no luck. And I can't afford to mail order it for $30+ per bag. The closest thing that I've found is a local Amish mill that custom mixes theirs with non-gmo ingredients. None of them seem to be crazy about it except the corn. Layer is 14% protein and contains corn, soybeans, oats, oyster shell, layer mineral, molasses. Grower is 18% protein and contains corn, soybeans, oats, broiler mineral, and molasses. I'm also concerned that it could be lacking complete nutritional needs.
A feed store in town has Naturewise. http://m.nutrenaworld.com/products/poultry/naturewise-poultry/
Tractor Supply carries Purina. link here
My goal is to find the healthiest, most natural diet for them. I know that free range with only supplemental feed would be the best scenario, but I can't pull that off right because of predators. Next year I'll try to set up large paddocks to rotate them in. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

edited by moderator to shorten link
 
John Elliott
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The most natural feed is not to feed them at all -- let them scratch and forage for 100% of their calories.

You can pull that off if your chicken paddock is a piece of tropical jungle with lots of leaf litter like the habitat that the wild jungle fowl evolved in. The further away from that you are, the more you have to supplement. Also, if you want a high level of egg production, you have to make sure that they are getting all the right nutrients. But giving chickens special formulations of corn and soy is only a recent development. A hundred years ago, before the advertising campaigns of the feed manufacturers, chickens were the farm's garbage patrol. Anything and everything that was unfit for consumption by other animals, the chickens got last crack at it. And why not? Chickens can find nutrition is the unlikeliest of places, like a 3-day old cow plop that is teeming with maggots.

When I first got chickens, I too thought that I needed to buy them food. And I ought to buy them "good" food. I now realize that I had been listening to too much advertising. I now feed my chickens on what gets thrown out at the grocery store, what gets thrown out of the refrigerator, what gets weeded out of the garden, what gets caught in slug traps, and what gets sucked up in the lawn mower bag. I haven't noticed a drop in egg production from the days when I used to buy food, if anything they lay better.

There is an enormous amount of waste in the way food makes its way from field to the consumer's dining table; by tapping into that waste stream, you need never buy feed for your chickens again.

 
Jared Blankenship
Posts: 23
Location: Glasgow, KY zone 6b
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Thank you for the response. I just hadn't been in the correct mindset to think about trying to find scraps from restraunts. I've watched geoff lawton's video about the chicken tractor on steroids, but it's been a while. We have nearly no waste at home because my wife refuses to cook anything until the leftovers are about gone. So I'll try to see what I can come up with.
 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Are you keeping your chickens in cages or free range ?

David
 
Mike Cornwell
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@John
I certainly have seen this in my travels. A blueberry farm near here that we visited, had this awesome setup of pairing a pig pen with a slanted floor to a chicken coop. Every day or so the guy would spray the pig pen down and everything would slide into the chicken coop for the one or two chickens that he had there to peck through everything.

If you're going to keep animals in pens, this isn't a bad way to do it.

The pigs lived 100% for free off of local fast food left overs. Probably not the BEST feed for them, but i'm not sure the pigs were complaining about getting donuts every day....
 
Jared Blankenship
Posts: 23
Location: Glasgow, KY zone 6b
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David, right now we have only five layers in a small coop with 10'X14' run. We let them out as much as possible when we're at home. We've lost several to dogs in the last year, and we live right next to a creek that harbors lots of racoons and coyotes. We've found that as the day goes on they venture further and further away from safety, so we keep them caged anytime we're gone.

We have around 20 dual purpose breeds around 10 weeks old that, and 27 red rangers and pioneers that are in Salatin-style and hoop house tractors that we move everyday on fescue, red and white clover, timothy, orchard grass, etc.

I'd like to fence paddocks, build/buy an egg mobile and move them every week like Paul recommends. I'm trying to decide about other livestock before I fence though. See, I have 13 acres and would like to have a goat, sheep, or beef operation and graze the chickens behind the other livestock as a complementary package. I just have to decide what animals would be most advantagious for us and get it fenced.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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My chickens get all household scraps and they also clean up after the rabbits. They free range as well but I still need to supplement their diet. What I need to do is get down to the seafood restaurants in town and see if I can hook up one or two to give me their waste. My chickens would love to live on Calabash style fried seafood!
 
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