Win a copy of Permaculture Design Companion this week in the Permaculture Design 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 experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

Chicken fodder/forage success stories?

 
pollinator
Posts: 316
Location: Virginia
97
books chicken cooking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have experimented with raising chickens both by them being used to handling and letting them remain flighty.

It is way easier to be able to catch the gentled birds, but we found that they ended up with a higher mortality rate.  Seems like their lack of fear with us made them less fearful in general which got some picked off.  They also tend to run under my feet when carrying food into the pen since they are anxious to get first dibs. One of these days, I am afraid I'm going to squish one.

Since I dont have to catch them often, I've ruled in favor of letting them stay a bit nervous.  Those have had longer lives and have been better foragers. The tame ones want to hang out near the house and workshop where we are instead of finding food. Also they have gotten in the way more than once while my husband was moving motors.  So chasing them it is.

Although it is fun having the social birds, I want them to live long and be able to take care of themselves.
 
Posts: 59
Location: Western Oregon
12
kids forest garden trees chicken earthworks food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the helpful replies, everyone.  I had some great success, and some fails with growing my own chicken feed this year.  When I have a chance, I will put some notes and photos together for a pretty comprehensive report.  
 
Posts: 6
Location: Maine, USA (coastal, Zone 5-6)
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In coastal Maine many people give lobster carcasses/carapaces (leftover shells) to their chickens to pick at.  Gives the yolks an almost red color...  Could probably work with crayfish/shrimp/crabs in other areas.
 
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rob Stenger wrote:In coastal Maine many people give lobster carcasses/carapaces (leftover shells) to their chickens to pick at.  Gives the yolks an almost red color...  Could probably work with crayfish/shrimp/crabs in other areas.



I'm not sure it will change the color of the yolks but I give them the shells of their own eggs and any shrimp shells from the shrimp we eat. I have not really noticed much difference, but if I believe Garden Betty:"The carotenoids that cause deeper yolk coloring are xanthophylls, which are more readily absorbed in the yolks. (Lutein is one such xanthophyll, and a lot of lutein means a lot more orange.) Xanthophylls are found in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards, as well as in zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
https://www.gardenbetty.com/how-to-get-those-delightful-dark-orange-yolks-from-your-backyard-chickens/
 
Posts: 409
Location: Portlandish, Oregon
23
forest garden fungi foraging
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorry about the delay in reply. My compost pile was about 6 yards in size, flipped daily. I don't know how it handles over winter as I had to move last month and the new pile isn't hot. sucks buying feed.
 
Posts: 65
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
2
solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Shawn Harper wrote:Sorry about the delay in reply. My compost pile was about 6 yards in size, flipped daily. I don't know how it handles over winter as I had to move last month and the new pile isn't hot. sucks buying feed.



Would that be 6 yards long?  How wide?  How deep?   I'm guessing it's not 6 yards square.  
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tina Hillel wrote:.

It is way easier to be able to catch the gentled birds, but we found that they ended up with a higher mortality rate.  
Although it is fun having the social birds, I want them to live long and be able to take care of themselves.




These are excellent arguments to keep them "on the wild side". One of my posts on this thread was on the *advantages* of having gentler birds and it needed a balancing counter. This is it. I did notice that my girls tend to stay very close as soon as I'm entering their yard to feed them, and they have risked life and limb to be the first at pecking goodies. When you mention higher mortality rate, I'm wondering what is causing that? Do you feel that they are too friendly and thus get into accidents or do they succumb to *diseases* that perhaps we are bringing them by handling them too often. Loose chickens, friendly or not can easily be run over by cars too: They are not really swift or astute.
You seem to be leaning toward accidents as the main source, feeling that to be closer, they put themselves at risk. Yet my husband, who thinks that these birds are a pooping nuisance until he can get at their eggs is not regarded by them as a friend. They flutter and keep their distance [but it is true that he has never given them food]. Visitors are treated with a fair skepticism as to their friendliness as well. In other words, do you feel that the friendliness to *you* transfers over to cats, dogs ...foxes?
I have heard of poultry diseases transferring to humans and I'm aware that handling of young chicks may be nefarious *to the chicks*, so I'm the only one touching them here. I'm normally happy go lucky about germs but there is something between chickens and humans and we can get sick from them and vice versa.
I have 25 girls and a rooster, so it is hard to establish statistics on such a small number. I had 2 roosters and I lost one this year: The poor thing must have swallowed something that was very picky or sharp and died withing an hour of ingestion. [That is something I was worried about allowing them to run unfettered. Well, it turns out that even in a big yard, they can still find something deadly.]
So what did yours die of?
 
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Failure story more like it. What I think I have learned:

Chix need energy and protein to lay eggs, and even with that they may not if its too dark. I'm not doing lights and heat, so this last week I just changed the protein and calorie inputs. They laid eggs with more protein and almost none without. I gave them dry mealworms as the source.

Short version, they need more protein than they are getting. This has been my concern based on my schema. Few bugs are around this time of year, and I do give them access to mulch piles with some fungal hyphae, but they clean it out pretty quick. I am not sure we will get reliable winter eggs without external feeds in paddocked chickens.

What I have tried as protein sources- winterpeas, both growing and dry seeds, live crimson clover, live red clover. I am not grinding/sprouting any legume seeds, I'm trying to find something I can leave standing for winter forage. They do seem to relish the red clover, but they haven't touched the other stuff, even in a paddock. I'm really disappointed about that. I don't have enough caragana to know whether they will eat it unsprouted. I think the problem is that plants left standing are vulnerable to getting stripped by other birds before the chix can get to them. I see crows out gleaning, and blue jays. Those are also after larger seeds. I don't have an easy solution. The best type of seed would be one that tends to fall and get covered by litter, since the chickens are scratchers. Bonus would be seeds that sprout and start to reduce the hemagglutinin levels but stay under the litter. Sunflower (which is in Gab Brown's mix) is a possible, along with safflower. Those are rich in fat along with protein and reduce the carbohydrate calories the birds need to make lecithin. Unfortunately, the sunflowers tend to mold here before they are needed and attract crows and jays.

Anyhow, that is the current state of learning what doesn't work, at least right now. Had a better writeup and then accidentally erased it because I'm sick and my brain is not right. It could mean I just need to force them to eat the paddock vegetation and suffer through low egg yield. Thoughts?

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:Failure story more like it. What I think I have learned:

Chix need energy and protein to lay eggs, and even with that they may not if its too dark. I'm not doing lights and heat, so this last week I just changed the protein and calorie inputs. They laid eggs with more protein and almost none without. I gave them dry mealworms as the source.

Short version, they need more protein than they are getting. This has been my concern based on my schema. Few bugs are around this time of year, and I do give them access to mulch piles with some fungal hyphae, but they clean it out pretty quick. I am not sure we will get reliable winter eggs without external feeds in paddocked chickens.

It could mean I just need to force them to eat the paddock vegetation and suffer through low egg yield. Thoughts?




You'll be happy to know that your previous version did post. While it is true that keeping the lights on in winter will help chickens to keep laying, I am not sure is the right/ ethical thing to do: During winter/ early spring, there will be a molt during which they will need extraordinary amounts of protein, and you hit the nail on the head with that one. Laying an egg a day *also* require extraordinary amounts of protein. Here, in Wisconsin winter, there is NO forage to be had, and with frozen ground, there is no scratching to be done, yet my girls keep laying valiantly 23-25 eggs a day [I have 25 hens and a rooster, the other rooster died].
Besides the sheer expansion of energy to go through very cold weather [more on that below] Some chickens have been bred to lay more eggs than nature intended, so if you bought day old chicks from such a breed, chances are the chickens will continue laying when other breeds have petered out, so that is one thing.
Meat chickens, which are bred to produce more meat will just like humans need to support that extra meat that is on their bones by eating more, so that is another thing: If food has to be dedicated to creating more muscle mass/ fat, it cannot *also* go to egg laying.
If it is not the breed, then it is the stress, so let's see what stresses we can alleviate.
Any organism that is stressed needs more food to keep up during times of stress.
Back to the cold:
That is a stress that can be reduced by providing a well insulated shelter. I keep them in one of those coops that you can buy ready made and that looks like a smaller barn, with a loft. I insulated the walls and now the loft too. Then, since that was still too cold, I closed off the loft.
For the breed: I bought baby chicks that are a variation on the Rhode Island Red but they can be color sexed. I was told they would keep up the egg laying longer than others, and so far, so good.
For the feed:With the chicken yard covered with snow and ice, I knew they would have slim pickings. I kept a number of pumpkins as I know it is a good de-wormer before winter sets in. I still have a big one to give them. Meal worms re extremely expensive here so they don't get too many, only as a treat, and not even every week! My best tool has been to get them some game bird feed and pour that in the feeders *inside* the coop. It has I think close to 30% protein. Originally, I gave them that because some appeared to start a molt. I see that they are molting some, but just a feather here and there, not a catastrophic molt.
Water: I have to have a water heater, sold at Fleet farm. electric and inside the coop, the water is never frozen. [They cannot eat snow]
CALCIUM:  To lay eggs, they need to have calcium, and lots of it: To satisfy their need to scratch, I clear up a space, like 4-5 square feet every 4-5 days and drop a few handfuls of broken shells as well as a little grit [both from my local Tractor Supply store]. [Yep, they still need grit to digest properly]. They must really feel that they need it because it disappears in about 5 minutes. I also give them kitchen scraps, but I toss  them outside. I'll just remind you that women athletes who train very hard often lose their ability to have a period in reaction to the stress. What I see happening in chickens reminds me of that. After all, an egg is similar in that respect to a period.[Yes, we don't need as much calcium because we don't lay eggs covered in calcium, but the stress is the same, and the effect on the organism is the same].
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cecile, the duplicate post was actually an error message post, and I don't see an obvious way to delete it but my mind is mushy.  There was a much better effort originally that ethered. Sorry for the spam!

I was trying to respond to the OP about fodder and forage, which I can't see being sensible left in the field where you are. We have pretty mild winters and I use the chix in rotational paddocks except for FEb which tends to be too cold. That month they are in the wood chips making the summer garden. You definitely are in a tough climate! I wonder what the northern europeans used to feed them wintertime? I know there are swedish chickens, so I assume they came from up there and had some way of feeding them.  

I am very interested in hairy vetch, but despite planting it twice there is very little out there. That sounds like a possible winner in your area, it is very hardy and a good protein source.

There is a guy in Vermont who keeps his flock on compost all year, but he gets truckloads of veggie scraps to mix with the wood chips. I can't really make anything analagous here. The amount of wood chips it would take to supply a flock with calories from the fungal strands is immense. I would say I need 30 yards or rotting chips for 10 birds to get half their calories in Feb, so that's 6 yards per bird at full diet! They do love it though.

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:
You definitely are in a tough climate! I wonder what the northern europeans used to feed them wintertime? I know there are swedish chickens, so I assume they came from up there and had some way of feeding them.  




The ancestor of our chickens apparently came from China or India. They have found bones as old as 5000 years old suggesting they butchered chickens for eating. At first, they raised them for cock fighting. [Some folks just don't know what's good to eat, I guess]  ;-)
In Europe, speaking about France, which I know better, farms have always been smaller and agriculture is diversified, not specialized like here. Someone who has 25 cows is "a big farmer"! So it has always been easier to let the chickens roam and eat as they pleased. Grains, cabbages and leftovers are thrown in the big yard for the chickens' pecking pleasure. They eat their fill of bugs and seeds in the pasture in the summer.
For shelter, a specialized chicken coop is not automatic: If you already have a barn, you have a shelter that is warm in the winter, thanks to the cows. They learn to stay away from hooves and horns and can peck the manure. They get the same water as the cows or the dog or other farm animals. They may lay eggs in the hay loft but then the eggs can get lost.
A little Folklore for fun:
- The rooster association with France dates back from the Middle Ages and is due to the play on words in Latin between Gallus, meaning an inhabitant of Gaul [name of France at the time of the Roman occupation], and gallus, meaning rooster, or cockerel. Its use, by the enemies of France, dates back to this period, originally a pun to make fun of the French, but now adopted by the French, in typical gallic in your face fashion.[Yes, we have a big mouth, so what?!]

-The French rooster really looks like a jungle fowl, which is its origin. Google image for Gallic rooster shows exactly what I remember our roosters looking like.

- Good King Henri IV [1553-1610] was a king who was a socialist before his time and encouraged people to raise chicken so they should have "a hen in the stew pot every Sunday". It was quite a progress when the poor only ate vegetables and famine was rampant.
 
Posts: 525
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
143
transportation hugelkultur cat forest garden fish trees urban chicken cooking woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
'I'm interested to know what other permies have done successfully to grow feed for their chickens or other poultry.'

I always plant more vegetables than we use, particularly leafy greens: some for us, some for the chooks. The 'cut and come again' varieties are great for that.

My chooks love fresh coriander, mint and parsley, which is a bugger because in our warm/hot climate those plants tend to bolt to seed far too readily even in the cooler months.

Two great ideas I saw on one of our TV gardening shows:

A. punch holes in a large tin (about the size of a 4 litre olive oil tin), hang it by a wire in the chook yard a few feet off the ground above the reach of the chickens, and place scraps of meat in it. Flies lay eggs on the rotting meat, maggots develop and fall through the holes to feed the chooks a nutritious snack.

B. Construct a small garden bed in the chook yard, plant it out with a variety of greens, then cover it with the smaller grade of bird wire mesh. As the plants grow through the mesh the chickens can peck it at their leisure - low maintenance too.
 
Tina Hillel
pollinator
Posts: 316
Location: Virginia
97
books chicken cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Cecile, I just saw your question about my chicken mortality.  Sorry, for the delayed response.

Our chickens transferred their friendliness and lack of fear to everything! As they followed my husband and I, they would get used to other people that were around- visiting friends, neighbors, customers for my husband's repair shop.  They would leave our property and go visiting.  We found a couple at a neighbor's house a half mile from home.  They followed our car back down the gravel road home.

Also, they were used to being around our dogs and cats that followed us.  They would go up to another neighbors to steal their pets food (he thought it was funny to have visiting chickens fortunately) but other dogs and cats they encountered were not used to chickens and they were seen as tasty meals (really, they are). If they stayed closer to home, it would have been fine.

The losses we had, werent due to the chickens being handled as far as disease or anything like that. It was that their natural curiousity mixed with fearlessness got them in trouble.  We also found that they got way less reactive with hawk danger as well which led to some loss that way too.

So for us, we have had better success with keeping a bit of distance and keeping them more as working birds. Much less accidental losses. I do miss certain aspects, like going to the shop and seeing a chicken sitting on a motor trying the help my husband work on it😀. Like I mentioned earlier, they were also less willing to go forage on their own (point of OP's post-sorry).
 
Posts: 4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My chickens love the gaint zucchinis, once you chop and end off they will go until its hollowed out.  And the best training aid I have found are peanuts I can get one hen to fly up onto my hand by clicking my fingers and rewarding her with a piece of peanut aye
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tina Hillel wrote:Hi Cecile, I just saw your question about my chicken mortality.  Sorry, for the delayed response.
Our chickens transferred their friendliness and lack of fear to everything! As they followed my husband and I, they would get used to other people that were around- visiting friends, neighbors, customers for my husband's repair shop.  They would leave our property and go visiting.  We found a couple at a neighbor's house a half mile from home.  They followed our car back down the gravel road home.
Like I mentioned earlier, they were also less willing to go forage on their own (point of OP's post-sorry).



That is indeed too friendly. The danger of avian flu transmitted to humans or diseases passed on to them by us is real: A number of hatcheries will not accept people on the premises for fear they will bring diseases. IMHO, they may be a little paranoid but I keep that in the back of my mind.
I think that my aggressive rooster has been tamed: 3 days without any attack on me. Holding him to the ground under my foot for a full minute seems to have convinced him that I'm the Alpha here and he is keeping his distance now. As you mention, being less willing to forage on their own since you provide everything can become expensive too. Having very friendly chickens is OK if you want pets perhaps, but I know where mine will end up so treating them like pets is not what I want to do.
Our human desire to have friendly critters is not wrong but when you see what has been done by us to bees [who have been bred to be docile], dogs that have been bred to take all kinds of forms and shapes for our human satisfaction [but not for their own health and wellness] is problematic.
While I don't want my animals to scurry away in fear, being overly cuddly with them may not be good for either species. "Familiarity breeds contempt".
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

C Gale wrote:My chickens love the gaint zucchinis, once you chop and end off they will go until its hollowed out.  And the best training aid I have found are peanuts I can get one hen to fly up onto my hand by clicking my fingers and rewarding her with a piece of peanut aye



And zukes are probably good for them to boot. I'm not sure about zucchinis in particular but pumpkins provide and excellent vermifuge. so in the fall, before they may be cooped up for too long, it is a great idea to give them pumpkins and maybe by extension cukes and zukes to clean up their system of parasites.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am having more success than anticipated (yay!) with propagating goumi. This means in two years we are going to have a massive surplus of the berries. I would suspect that the hundred plants (I went a little crazy) will each produce a kilo or so of berries. It is a chore to harvest them, but if you prune them, you get great chop and drop nitrogen and easier picking. And tons of hardwood cuttings it turns out.

So this looks very promising initially. The issue is going to be drying and storage. These have quite a bit of protein and fat, and I don't know if drying will keep the fat from becoming rancid. We have a black pavement area, and they should dry in a day of sunny weather. Then my plan is to just sweep them up with a push broom and put them in old grass seed bags for hanging. I have an early version of goumi that fruits in April-May and one that is later in the summer, so I will have some time to get the volume needed dried and stored. I am looking for as many different fruiting times as possible. If anyone wants to trade my early goumi cuttings for a midsummer or late, I will pay postage for both sides. Should be able to fit a hundred cuttings in a fixed-rate postage box. This might work for autumn olive as well. I am purposely not using the autumn olive, because I don't want to spread it. If it is less invasive where you are or too cold for goumi, it might be a good choice, or some other eleagnus species. This should be enough protein if they need to molt. I am doing standing oat and wheat forage for calories, but

colour of their wattles

as noted by prior posters seems to indicate that they are anemic, and I blame unsprouted grains. I am feeding them purchased millet and wheat this winter to see what deficiencies show up.

Anyhow, this summer I am going to dry enough to test this out, and feed it over the winter. I have been looking for stuff I don't need to do anything to keep available for the birds (and I appreciate the idea of acorns, we have pin oaks that they will eat, smaller chickens probably can't). Other candidates are millet or amaranth. I think the millet stands a better chance of not falling out of the seed heads when shocked and hung. Amaranth is a test this year for a couple different roles.

Greens continue to be a problem, we generally have a month that absolutely nothing grows. Chicory seems to be a clear winner, but they aren't that into it. They don't relish winterpea greens (which is surprising!) Mine LOVE comfrey, but it dies back during this time, and generally a wet period follows which can drown starter comfrey in our soils. I've been sprouting wheat berries, but that is too labor intensive to harvest for chicken food. They really don't like winter squash, which is weird. I haven't cooked it, and won't be doing that. May be required for palatability. Same with sweet potato, they are ravenous if cooked, won't touch it raw or spoiled.

 
Posts: 19
Location: rural West Virginia
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hmm, I have a couple goumis and all I could think to do with the berries is make a syrup I never use. Maybe dry em for chicken food? I had a big surplus of butternuts and sweet potatoes this past year, and have fed most of the squash especially to the chickens. They have little enthusiasm if they're raw, but I just throw a squash in any time I run the oven, or chop one and heat it slowly all day on top of the woodstove, and they're happy to get em. They never let the seeds go to waste.
 
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have to chime in. I'm in central Florida, and don't have the restrictions everyone else has in the way of cold. Being from Wisconsin, I know all about that tho. Very hard to feed chickens well when it's freezing cold.
I've started growing fodder in trays outside since, well, I can, but that hasn't been without issues. I'm working them out one by one and should have a decent system soon. I buy red wheat berries from a store online, and I'm organic so I pay more. You might take a look at this video, because her system is indoors. https://youtu.be/RX4VoV7DeG8

Here's the thing I'm thinking for those of you looking for green and protein sources that are cheap to get your chooks through the winter:
Work out a warm area to use for growing feed - think of it like a greenhouse dedicated to chicken feed. It could be in a garage, basement, living room....(LOL) just warm enough and a water source.
1) Start a fodder system like in the video I mentioned. It can be done and once you get going it's fun. It'd be a nice pick-me-upper if you live "up north" where there's nothing green.
2) Start keeping bsfl. There's a ridiculous amount of info out there, and I've sifted through it all. You can go complicated or simple depending on your temperament, skill and budget. It doesn't have to stink, it's fun to learn about the life cycle and how to keep your "colony" growing, and my lord, the chickens go ape-*st* for them. BSFL is taking the world by storm, and I wanted to get in on the action by raising them myself. It's by far the best source of protein you can farm yourself for your chickens. There's a guy on youtube that successfully kept his bin outside, next to his house, using an insulation blanket and heating pad. I say bring it inside, and make a reasonably warm place to grow fodder and raise bsfl.
If anyone wants links to videos I've saved that were helpful to me after watching 800 of them, I'll post them here.
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
32
goat cat dog books chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts bee medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I still buy some feed, which I ferment prior to feeding. But I also raise a large amount of feed:

- lemon balm
- lambs quarters
- dandelions
- squash (cooked)
- potatoes (white and sweet) (cooked)
- tomatoes
- maypops
- mulberries
-strawberries
- Apple pumace
- raspberries
- blueberries
- highbush cranberries
- garden bugs
- clovers
- kitchen waste

As for tameness, my buff Orpingtons are super tame and friendly. They see me coming with treats and run to me. One flies up on my shoulder. I pick them up and pet them. It gives me a chance to check their weight and condition. This breed is very easy to tame. I like them tame, as they are easy to check. Plus, I don’t want my grand babies having nasty encounters with the roosters.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Leslie Russell wrote:I have to chime in. I'm in central Florida, and don't have the restrictions everyone else has in the way of cold. Being from Wisconsin, I know all about that tho. Very hard to feed chickens well when it's freezing cold.
I've started growing fodder in trays outside since, well, I can, but that hasn't been without issues. I'm working them out one by one and should have a decent system soon. I buy red wheat berries from a store online, and I'm organic so I pay more. You might take a look at this video, because her system is indoors. https://youtu.be/RX4VoV7DeG8

Here's the thing I'm thinking for those of you looking for green and protein sources that are cheap to get your chooks through the winter:
Work out a warm area to use for growing feed - think of it like a greenhouse dedicated to chicken feed. It could be in a garage, basement, living room....(LOL) just warm enough and a water source.
1) Start a fodder system like in the video I mentioned. It can be done and once you get going it's fun. It'd be a nice pick-me-upper if you live "up north" where there's nothing green.
2) Start keeping bsfl. There's a ridiculous amount of info out there, and I've sifted through it all. You can go complicated or simple depending on your temperament, skill and budget. It doesn't have to stink, it's fun to learn about the life cycle and how to keep your "colony" growing, and my lord, the chickens go ape-*st* for them. BSFL is taking the world by storm, and I wanted to get in on the action by raising them myself. It's by far the best source of protein you can farm yourself for your chickens. There's a guy on youtube that successfully kept his bin outside, next to his house, using an insulation blanket and heating pad. I say bring it inside, and make a reasonably warm place to grow fodder and raise bsfl.
If anyone wants links to videos I've saved that were helpful to me after watching 800 of them, I'll post them here.



Leslie, I am under the impression BSF are only productive in the 50F range and die below freezing. Is that not accurate? I've considered vermiposting but I like the idea of a chicken cafe of BSF. Just haven't done it because of the temperature issue. My mobile coop is not heated. It may get an insulated indoor water tank this fall and then I could consider a BSF colony inside, but it didn't seem to help the winter forage low period.

I do plan on getting them a barrel colony with roadkill but mostly I think it will reduce the move frequency in the summer.
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yupper, they needed to be warm which is why I suggested creating a room where you could raise them and grow trays of fodder at the same time and use it as your chicken feed room. You won't be able to raise them unless it's summertime otherwise. Did you watch the video? She has a room designated for growing fodder and if you figured out how to do the same thing and keep it warm you could raise your bsfl in there as well.
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

F Agricola wrote:'I'm interested to know what other permies have done successfully to grow feed for their chickens or other poultry.'

I always plant more vegetables than we use, particularly leafy greens: some for us, some for the chooks. The 'cut and come again' varieties are great for that.

My chooks love fresh coriander, mint and parsley, which is a bugger because in our warm/hot climate those plants tend to bolt to seed far too readily even in the cooler months.

Two great ideas I saw on one of our TV gardening shows:

A. punch holes in a large tin (about the size of a 4 litre olive oil tin), hang it by a wire in the chook yard a few feet off the ground above the reach of the chickens, and place scraps of meat in it. Flies lay eggs on the rotting meat, maggots develop and fall through the holes to feed the chooks a nutritious snack.

B. Construct a small garden bed in the chook yard, plant it out with a variety of greens, then cover it with the smaller grade of bird wire mesh. As the plants grow through the mesh the chickens can peck it at their leisure - low maintenance too.


That's hilarious! Me: on the side of the road shooing the vultures away from a dead opossum, peeling it off the ground and throwing it in the back of my car
My neighbors: all Mexican families "Todos ven rápido a nuestro loco vecino!" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤪🤪🤪
(everybody come quick look at our crazy neighbor)
 
Posts: 58
Location: Ohio 5b6a
28
food preservation homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We cannot let our chickens roam because of all the neighborhoods dogs run wild.  So we gave them a nice pen that they can run around in comfortably.

We grow a small patch of sorghum for seed and turned the rest into silage. Sorghum seed has an estrogen in it and we use it to boast their production in December and January if we are short eggs.  Just a handful will double our egg count in 2 days.  If they eat to many sorghum seeds the yolks will get pale.  

We also feed alfalfa that we grow in ¼ acre fields and is hand stored in feed sacks.  If alfalfa is handled by hand it keeps its leaves much better.  We have won the county fair alfalfa contest for a few years. This will make orange yolks.

We have an old line of yellow dent corn that is yellow to red in color.  The chickens will produce deep orange yolks from it.  

We raise giant amaranth for the seed heads and  they eat the leaves too.  

We let the sunflowers self-seed and get about 100 heads every year to feed.  

We raise squash and gourds for the market and what we don’t use we feed.  We also raise cabbage and broccoli that we feed all of the scraps.  Our extra cabbage we store upside down covered in leaves.  

We raise about a 1/10 acer of spelt or oats.  We make the stooks and the top sheave tends to sprout here in Ohio humidity.  We pile the top sheaves next to the chicken pen and feed a couple a day usually in July.  The chickens will clean it all up and leave the rest for beading.

We have 2 small plots that we grow green chop for them.  It is planted with dandelions, alfalfa, perennial rye, plantains, red clover and white clover.  We use a small push lawn mower we got in scrap.  It has a perfect little handle on the bags to carry it to the chickens or cows.  

We raise duckweed in kiddy pools that were get given to us.  We keep 2 minnows in each pool for mosquito control.  We dry the duckweed on a black tv dish that was given to us.  We use the dried duckweed to eliminate molds in prepped feeds in the summer.  When we have extra we feed it straight to them wet.

We have found diversity is they best thing to keep them happy and producing good tasty eggs.  We get about 2 doz. eggs per day from 50 chickens on a yearly average. Our customers rave about them and our neighbors can't get rid of theirs.  We had a wealthy couple come to a friends house here in Ohio and they had our eggs for breakfast. When they went home to New Mexico they had some of our eggs next day aired to them.  Now I don't think that it is necessarily a good thing on thinking how much energy was spent on shipping, but it does say something about quality.  Quality food has become a rare commodity.
IMG_20141009_180547166.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20141009_180547166.jpg]
 
pioneer
Posts: 46
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
9
fungi pig solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
WOW! Christopher! Such good info and details - just the kind of multi-faceted system I want to have. Glad to read about amaranth - been looking for real experience with that.
What is that picture you posted?
 
Christopher Shepherd
Posts: 58
Location: Ohio 5b6a
28
food preservation homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The picture is of sorghum silage we make in buckets.  We sometime use an old hand chopper and sometimes use the gas chipper and pack it in buckets.  I had got some seed a couple years ago for the amaranth from a flower grower on the east coast.  It gets real big heads.  Ill try to get a picture and post it.
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes please, Christopher! A photo of the amaranth!
I'd like to grow here too. Thank you for sharing your growing and feeding cycle with us.
 
Christopher Shepherd
Posts: 58
Location: Ohio 5b6a
28
food preservation homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a picture in the shed of the amaranth. We hang in in bundles upside down for drying.  It is a deep purple when growing.  I wish I had pictures of it growing.  I did see Lowes has it in little seed packs.  I have some extra seed if we can find a way to get it to you.  The picture shows the biggest one is about 2ft long.
IMG_20190310_183550476.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190310_183550476.jpg]
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wanted to update my posts on this forum to report that after going great guns and being delighted how easy and well the fodder project went, summer came, it got hot and humid and that was the end of that.
No matter how little seed I put in the trays, how often I rinsed, they went sour. The little roots, if it even got that far, got nasty, slimey and brown and smelled like rotten beer LOL
I tried various tricks to adjust for the issue to no avail. I briefly (like 2 seconds) considered bringing the project indoors where it's drier.
Any other ideas I'd love to hear them!
 
Posts: 33
Location: Europe - CZ, Pannonian / continental zone
6
purity chicken homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have some 10 chicks for eggs and I´m also trying to cut down the percentage of bought grain in their fodder. I keep them in a run (approx. 30 sq meters) with deep mulch bedding (they like to scratch it very much), but I also let them forage in adjacent part of my vineyard (some 200 sq meters) and scratch worms on a compost plot from September to April. All kitchen scraps also go to them, both fresh and cooked, crushed bones included. Another part of their fodder is a dried bread, which I bring from my work. I also meet a local fish-seller on my way home, who gives me a bucket (cca 2-3 gallons) full of fresh fish offal every week. I give him some eggs as a reward. I throw them a basket full of greens (alfalfa, dandelions, clovers, common sainfoin, grass clippings..) every day from spring to autumn.. I also buy dried fish meal, made from local freshwater "weed fish" as a protein additivum. During the winter, when there is only a little greens outside, I pick a scrap leaves (cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi) from a bin in our local supermaket. Nevertheless I buy corn, wheat and  barley. Organic, if possible (not always accessible). For example, I got one bag full of barley ( 50 kg ) from my colleague who have won it in a ball raffle this winter, just for a bottle of wine (which I got from a local person as a reward for some help..). I let the grain soak and ferment for several day before giving it to chickens - this also reduce the ammount of grain in their food..
fish-offal.jpg
[Thumbnail for fish-offal.jpg]
compost-chicks.jpg
[Thumbnail for compost-chicks.jpg]
slepice-ve-vinohradu-zima.jpg
[Thumbnail for slepice-ve-vinohradu-zima.jpg]
slepice01.jpg
[Thumbnail for slepice01.jpg]
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I tried feeding the chickens fish parts, but they wouldn't eat them and it drew in vultures, like into th chicken pen. I tried making a solar cooker to cook them and it worked, but they still wouldn't eat it. I think they would if it was all cut up, but I ended up just putting it int the compost and letting them dig the compost up. I've tried with deer carcasses too. I had chickens that were pretty carnivorous, this bunch is not!

My big winner for chicken fodder is goumi berries. I sun dried a bunch on the driveway and they worked out great. I should be able to generate a hundred kilos per year in a week or so per summer. I can pick about ten pounds or five kilos an hour and have them laid out on the driveway, so a couple days spent for most of the chickens feed requirements over our brief winter, stored in hung burlap bags (actually old grass seed bags with excellent ventilation). They dry in a couple days in the sun. It is on a very slight slope, so even though we had rain one of the days they still dried out fine. It did look ridiculous and I need to make sure they dont get driven over. I am still looking for calories for them over the winter but the protein was a major issue last winter.

My winter calorie search continues. I am doing sorghum sunflower and millet this year. and plan to leave some standing and see if that will last.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1010
Location: Longbranch, WA
140
goat tiny house rabbit wofati chicken solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

My winter calorie search continues. I am doing sorghum sunflower and millet this year. and plan to leave some standing and see if that will last.


No the wild birds will have it eaten in short order.  I made that mistake and lost all of it while I was gon a few days.  They will thrash it but you have to harvest and store it securely.  The always bury some of the wheat during the winter and I am harvesting it each day now to feed them. I have been feeding bird seed mix again this spring and it is coming up for late summer.
 
Jan Hrbek
Posts: 33
Location: Europe - CZ, Pannonian / continental zone
6
purity chicken homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:I tried feeding the chickens fish parts, but they wouldn't eat them and it drew in vultures, like into th chicken pen. I tried making a solar cooker to cook them and it worked, but they still wouldn't eat it. I think they would if it was all cut up, but I ended up just putting it int the compost and letting them dig the compost up. I've tried with deer carcasses too. I had chickens that were pretty carnivorous, this bunch is not!


I have to cook it and mix it with soaked old bread and grain.. They do not want to eat it uncooked, neither cooked and whole.. My neighbour´s chickens are crazy about raw fish offal!
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:I tried feeding the chickens fish parts, but they wouldn't eat them and it drew in vultures, like into th chicken pen. I tried making a solar cooker to cook them and it worked, but they still wouldn't eat it. I think they would if it was all cut up, but I ended up just putting it int the compost and letting them dig the compost up. I've tried with deer carcasses too. I had chickens that were pretty carnivorous, this bunch is not!

My big winner for chicken fodder is goumi berries. I sun dried a bunch on the driveway and they worked out great. I should be able to generate a hundred kilos per year in a week or so per summer. I can pick about ten pounds or five kilos an hour and have them laid out on the driveway, so a couple days spent for most of the chickens feed requirements over our brief winter, stored in hung burlap bags (actually old grass seed bags with excellent ventilation). They dry in a couple days in the sun. It is on a very slight slope, so even though we had rain one of the days they still dried out fine. It did look ridiculous and I need to make sure they dont get driven over. I am still looking for calories for them over the winter but the protein was a major issue last winter.

My winter calorie search continues. I am doing sorghum sunflower and millet this year. and plan to leave some standing and see if that will last.


Tj I'm curious. How many chickens do you have? How long is your winter?
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Raeally winter is only 3 months. Bug season when they pretty much can forage for their needs is 6 months. Another 3 months I am working on supplemental feeds in terms of plantings. Two to three weeks of that can be goumi right from the plants in the spring. They produce very heavily. Honestly as the plantings mature, the bugs will be available nine months a year. I have a large amount of honeylocust, redbud, and other trees that should be dropping fodder most of the early winter. I doubt the chickens will eat it directly other than the seeds, but the bugs stay very active around the plantings. I see crickets and other detritavores all winter unless it is bitter cold. I also have them on my wood chip gardens for part of the winter, and I am sure they get some worms in there, maybe 30% of their needs.

We have 10 chix in a mobile paddock with a 400' fence. They also get kitchen scraps which can be quite a lot of their diet, especially if we have squash or melons or forget about something in the fridge. We ate the last watermelon in November, and I am going to actually bring in some to try to store them for a month. They love them more than anything even if they are on the way out. Really only about 3 months of frosts generally. I am seriously growing squash in massive amounts just because nothing is wasted, they clean it out as long as they are cooked. I also am experimenting with wood chip windrows with buried deer and fish remains. Those are teeming with worms. As a way or remineralizing the soil, I give them a few yards of chips in each paddock through the winter and they spread it and eat all the worms and mycelium they can find.

I mostly am trying to grow the soil, and the chickens are far more adept at finding food sources than i am at planning and planting them.  
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tj, it sounds like you've really thought this through. I have 17 hens in a large fenced area on grass that's becoming dirt as they scratch for bugs. I'm getting ready to move the fencing to green ground. I do buy feed; they have dry feed in the coop and get wet fermented feed outside. I go through a 40# bag in about 4 weeks.
Of course they get select kitchen scraps, but here's my big protein source: bsfl. If you haven't considered this, I think it might be a great addition and less effort than cultivating enough good ground for worms, etc to appear.
I've got a compost bin someone gave me that's about 2x2x3' square. It sits in a shaded treeline at the edge of my property, where I dump the coop litter when I clean it out. Because I use DE in the coop I can't put it in the bin because the DE will kill the larvae.
Everything the chickens don't get goes in the bin. Bsfl eat meat too, they'll clean Thanksgiving turkey carcass in a day. I scoop them up and feed them to the chickens. People build elaborate bsfl bins, making a simple operation very complicated. They need to be fed, like anything else, and one of the tricks is to never let them get hungry. Make sure they've always got something to eat and they will multiplying like nobody's business. One of the important factors is to make sure there's something dry in there for them to eat so that you can just scoop them out without having to do any rinsing because they get really buried into anything wet and then it's gross and then you don't want to feed it to the girls without cleaning off yada yada yada. If I don't have anything dry to put in there, cheap catfood is awesome. I found that out when somebody gave me a leftover bag just throw in there and they went wild. I'm not crazy about feeding my chickens dyed commercial yucky cat food but the larvae eat it so fast that there are only a few kibbles left that get scooped up and thrown into the run.
Once you figure out the few caveats in your particular system to make it easy on yourself this is probably the best free and most nutritious feed available. Variety is key of course, but if you can get this going it's the best form of free protein you can find.
A note on the cat food; at first I thought buying a bag of cat food was the stupidest thing in the world because I was buying it to put directly in my compost bin. But then I realized I was feeding the living creatures that I feed to my chickens for incredibly high quality protein and then it made total sense. I really like that it's dry so I can scoop up the larvae because like I said when they get ahold of watermelon rind and old carrots, old tomatoes (you get the idea) they are incredibly wet and really gross. Giving them something dry to eat was something brilliant I just fell across by accident. And like I said a bag of cat food is stupidly cheap.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:

Chix need energy and protein to lay eggs, and even with that they may not if its too dark. I'm not doing lights and heat, so this last week I just changed the protein and calorie inputs. They laid eggs with more protein and almost none without. I gave them dry mealworms as the source.

Short version, they need more protein than they are getting. This has been my concern based on my schema. Few bugs are around this time of year, and I do give them access to mulch piles with some fungal hyphae, but they clean it out pretty quick. I am not sure we will get reliable winter eggs without external feeds in paddocked chickens.



I'm with you about winter eggs: Already, laying eggs in the winter when a brood cannot be hatched is an un-natural thing. chickens have been bred especially for laying more and bigger eggs. Adding light is also un-natural. Since we get pretty cold dark winters in Wisconsin, you are correct that we need to make is possible for them to keep laying in a way that is good for the chicken. Look at the size of an egg an the size of the chicken laying it. Transfer that to humans. The chickens need to ingest a lot of calories to be able to put out an egg a day, every day.
For food calories, cracked corn is hard to beat, especially when mixed with lard. I warm up the lard until liquid and add cracked corn to saturation. They really like that!
To keep them warm, they have an unheated building that is insulated. I added a small ceramic heater that you hang flat against the wall, like a painting. It is warm to the touch, but not hot.
For protein, I've tried a few things, like road kills. Kitchen scraps, of course, but between Ron & I, we don't put out enough kitchen scraps to keep them fed. But that is not very reliable. High protein grains are fine, but even "high protein" grains don't contain a very high percentage of protein.
I discovered, at Tractor Supply a bag of very high protein [36%!]. It is used to feed catfish in ponds and the price is comparable to a sack of chicken feed. I serve that alongside other grains, and they seem to really enjoy it. The food is about pea size. It beats sprouting grains, which I did for a while. Wheat berries sprouted very easily, but oats got slimy and smelly on me.
Another thing I discovered is that on this protein, they have a very easy molt. A feather here, a feather there, but never a naked chicken. As  you know, feathers are made of a material comparable to nails and horns, and that production requires a lot of protein.
I got these chickens as baby chicks on April 5th of last year and as soon as they started laying eggs, they have never quit, winter or not. I regularly get 24-25 large brown eggs every day [out of 25 hens] and one rooster.
As far as ease of feeding the chickens, I turned their chicken run into an orchard. 5 apple trees, 4 cherry trees, 2 plum trees, volunteer juneberries, nut trees. I have the trees in cages so they can't get at the leaves when the trees are small. They keep the trees "spick and span": Never a rotten fruit allowed to go uneaten. Bugs cannot get to them. When the trees fruit, I will pick the best and then shake the tree for them. I was dreaming of putting comfrey in their run too, but considering that all the comfrey I can carry gets devoured in 2 minutes, I will just keep bringing it to them.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leslie, we did quite a lot of reading, on here especially, to work in the poultry. The idea is that they are not a stand-alone, they are a part of the progression of the soil from degraded to full of life. It has been really really good for the field. We are significantly increasing our acreage in silvopasture, and this will necessitate other birds. We may do guineas or turkeys, but there is a niche here that benefits from ground birds.

As a part of that, the idea from the start, was to have them be more or less making their own ecosystem, like browsers in a maintenance of their own habitat. They have been exceptional at making topsoil out of wood chips, inoculating the soil, and making different depths of soil as they dig and bathe. They will be a good complement to sheep in the next buildout. What we wanted to do was to make something more sustainable. We could have just fed them in the coop and collected eggs as is common here. We could have had a mobile paddock to spread the poop and keep the bugs down. But the idea has been to make modular paddock spaces that will have their total requirements contained within. There will be paddocks for the summer that teem with bugs and are places of high manuring, fall paddock spaces under the trees dropping fruit and seeds, and spring paddocks with berries. They get moved once a week except for the middle of winter they stay in a few mulch piles and back to eden gardens. The fox predator pressure here is intense, and we can't free range them. We could, for a couple weeks. They would get cleaned out. Winter has been the problem.

Soldier fly larvae are only active in 50F+ weather as we have discussed on prior threads. We already are pretty well set in those temperatures. I am not going to raise them in the house! We do as I mentioned compost the animal parts in wood chips which probably turns into nice yield of bugs, and will occur deep into the winter. In large windrows there are bugs pretty much all year. The chickens then work to shred the chips to get their meal. It hastens the composting of the chips. Beyond that it seems to keep other birds fed over the winter. We have bluebirds all year. This makes me happy!

So not everyone's system will look the same. In Florida BSF seems like something that could provide year-round food. We used to live there! Unfortunately it most beneficial here when we have a surplus anyway. We are working toward out deficiencies. IF we were doing some meat birds raised over the summer it might be really great, but we really haven't gotten into that yet.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
199
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cecile, nice idea on the catfish food. I will absolutely look into that. Eventually we want to not have to buy anything, let them molt on their schedule and go without eggs for a little bit, but this sounds like a cheap way to go. We are going to bank some eggs in slaked lime as a test, and if that works we should be good to go for a few months of poor laying.

Our main issue is actually the heat. They lay poorly when the temperatures are in the 90s, probably because the water warms up too. I am going to shade their water tank and see if that helps. Also, we will probably go with lighter colored chickens in the future when these guys burn out.
 
You ridiculous clown, did you think you could get away with it? This is my favorite tiny ad!
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!