I have 125 meat birds that are three weeks old and doing absolutely fantastic on fermented feed from day one.
As they get bigger I am having trubs finding a way to feed the glop to them.
Of course the gravity feeders of all varieties are not working as it either gets stuck or spills all over (yes I had to just TRY! Trust me. It doesn't work) The chicks barely escaped the quick sand of goo.
Second question for anyone that has used this method. I have read that the protein content is 12% more available with laco fermenting the feed. So can I use a feed with a lower protein content? Have you tried it? I don't want to slow down their growth due to my 'good idea'.
I want to make my own feed and that's a critical component on what I can use. What do you use in your homemade mix?
I also hear that their growth is suppose to be faster while staying healthier. Is that your experience? I am wondering If they are so much healthier perhaps can hold off with the butchering until perhaps even 10 weeks old.... what's the cut off of growth/leveling off to maintenance weight in your experience? To get a bigger carcass...
I'm making -another- addition to their enclosure for the garden as they keep needing more space. I have an opportunity to try a new set up and thought you smart folks in Permieland will give your thoughts and advice.
No thought is too small to add to this discussion! Freely leave your words....
No experience with meat birds at all so my thoughts may not apply.
I start all chicks on fermented non-medicated chick starter and I have had great results. I have never lost a chick. Like you, I can't figure out a way to feed a large number after they are a certain age.
I don't know that I believe the protein thing, and wouldn't take a chance with my birds. The cost difference simply wouldn't justify trying it for me.
I have also had really great results by taking the really powdered chick starter that you always seem to get in 50 lb bags and mixing it with plain yogurt. The birds love it and it is a good way to use the stuff that otherwise gets wasted because they can't really eat it. That said, I have never raised a large number at once like you are doing.
Looking forward to replies from people that have figured out a way to use a feeder of some sort that holds more than those little trays with the holes that I start my chicks with.
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
Probably won't work for really young chicks but what I was using when I was feeding fermented was a piece of gutter with just a couple blocks of wood on either end to keep it standing upright. I would just get a scoop of feed and spread it down the length of the gutter. Super simple and easy to make as big as you need. Once they were done eating, all I had to do was spray with a hose for a couple seconds to keep the stuff from caking on.
The times I did have young chicks in the mix, they were still able to get feed but they had to basically hop into the gutter. Fine for a handful of chicks that are outside, but if you have 125 in a brooder, I imagine that might make a mess with them getting it on their feet and tracking it all over...
Since we are feeding 125 chickens I decided to use the longer piece of gutter available to me. We ended up cutting the profile of the gutter and screwing it in place. I allowed a little gaps here and there for these reasons. 1. Since we are feeding fermented, sometimes it is too soupy and that helps drain out the excess liquid. 2 Also if any rain gets in it it can freely drain out.
I screwed some leftover treated 4x4 on either end about 18 inches from the end to support it off the ground, help account for uneven ground, and get it up higher than rump height to minimize pooping into it.
But hungry birds of little brain are wont to hop right into the soup and the middle caved it's now supported by random things of the right height every 18 inches or so. I'll be fixing that next time I get the screw gun in my hand.
But I wanted to post what I ended up with.
It works fantastically!! I really like that so many can fit at a time. Easily made with scrap material laying around.
I'll be making another one as the birds get bigger so there is less shuffling about trying to make room for all.
The gutter is working great for me too. During the below freezing days of winter, I have a double gutter set up, with the lower one having a heat tape ducttaped in the base of the lower one, so the feed and heat lengths nest together, covering the heat tape with the upper feed gutter length. No problems so far with the birds trying to eat the cords.
I have recently started to feed my chickens fermented feed. I was wondering if anyone knew how soaking the food changes the amount of feed the chickens get daily. As I understand it a chicken needs 1.5 pounds of feed per week. Do I continue to give 1.5 pounds of soaked feed per week or will I have to weigh out more due to the added weight of the water. Just wondering how this works as I want to not waste the feed but give the chickens what they need and not less. Thanks for the help!
Congrats on feeding your birds this way. I'll never go back. If regular layers :
The chickens will quickly show you how much they'll need. If they eat it all they need more, leaving some they need less.
Meat birds I rationed it out. ..
One way you could do it is to measure the food out before soaking in a daily container and see how much they eat.
By all accounts both what I've read and experienced, you'll be feeding them up to 60% less feed than if you were feeding it to them dry. Mine fluctuated with the variables of how much exercise/free range /time of year /age. ..you see. ..
At the minimum it has been a 25% reduction.
BTW, it's been fabulous during the latest freezes. I make it extra watery and the frozen hose bib is a problem I don't have to tend to as they get enough liquid.
It's about becoming like granny.
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