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Putting weight/fat on chickens

 
Thomas Clodfelter
Posts: 20
Location: McDermott Ohio
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I have some chickens that when I pick them up ... I can feel their breastbone!?
I have about 80 chickens and I'm going through at least 25 pounds of feed per day.
I have the coop mix range bird feed, laying crumble, laying mash and cracked corn.
Winter is coming and I need to put some fat on them... ANY suggestions??

Thanks,

Tom Clodfelter
McDermott OH
 
Wes Hunter
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Location: Seymour, MO
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Hens, I assume?  If so, they don't need to be fat.  If they were fat, that would likely mean they were putting their feed into body growth rather than egg production, which you don't want.

Increasing the amount of corn will help them to put on a layer of body fat, but at the likely expense of egg production.  But feeling a hen's breast bone is not a concern, so long as they are in good condition otherwise.
 
Marco Banks
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Are you fermenting your feed?  If not, you need to start doing so. 

Your birds will digest the food much easier and with greater weight gain per calorie of food.  Once we started fermenting our chicken feed, we realized that the birds enjoyed it much better than the dry mix, and we were able to cut it back to 2/3rds as much. 

It's nothing sophisticated.  I use 5 buckets in rotation.

Bucket 1: nothing but water.  I fill it every day and then let it sit for 24 hours so the chlorine gasses off.

Bucket 2: mix your feed with the water from bucket 1.  Moisten it pretty well -- like a thick slurry. 

Bucket 3: this is day 2 of your wet feed.  You may see it start to bubble a bit.

Bucket 4: by day 3 your feed should be starting to ferment and bubble away.

Bucket 5: this is what you feed the girls -- a four day ferment. 


Like a sourdough starter, if you use a little bit of the fermented feed with your new water/grain mix, it'll ferment much quicker -- 3 days is all it takes.  Thus, you could get away with a 4 bucket system -- or even a 3 bucket system if you don't have to de-chlorinate your water.

There are all sorts of web-sites that talk about it.  Here is one:  http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspot.com/p/fermented-feed.html

I recently watched a Joel Salatan video where he was talking about how to ferment feed for his hundreds and hundreds of birds.  They can't quite figure a way to scale it up, but knowing him, he'll find a way.  Wet feed is obviously much heavier and sloppier to work with than dry feed, so that's a consideration.  But for weight gain and cost-savings, you can't beat it.

 
Thomas Clodfelter
Posts: 20
Location: McDermott Ohio
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Thank you! I will definitely research this more.
I am losing quite a bit of feed to waste.
I am using well water so I am assuming I will not need to let the first bucket stand for 24 hours!?
I'll have to calculate and adjust for the number of birds ... !
I appreciate your feedback!!

Tom
 
Bill Erickson
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That's right, Thomas. With well water you won't need to let it sit for 24 hours. Nothing to out gas. Remember to follow the rest of Marco's process to get your feed fully fermented and to hold back part of it as your "starter" for your next batches.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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