I have experimenting with our layer ration (and meat a little) and want to be soy free. We only have peas, wheat, corn and barley to work with but can`t seem to maintain a high percentage of lay. If you are using a successful soy free grain ration, what are the percentages?
We add some skim milk and a larvae bin but we are farmscale production so can`t keep up with too many side things.
Ryan Hobbs wrote:sounds like they need more protein and fat...sunflower seeds, nuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, peas, beans... all will help.
Yeah, being Certified Organic really limits our grain choices. Sunflower seeds would be nice if I could find them.
They're a plant it and forget it crop like potatoes. I grow Russian Mammoth, Mongolian Mammoth, and Titan varieties regularly. Plant it with some manure in the previous fall or before the last frost. You'll get a pound or so from each head if you give it enough water and Nitrogen. You can pee in the sunflower bed if you want. They get huge here in Ohio.
Is there some deep philosophical explanation for why phenol is the most important ingredient in both picric acid and in sulfonamide? Is it that with great ingredients comes great responsibility?
We use a custom non-GMO mix for a variety of table birds (chickens, guineas, ducks, Muscovies, turkeys, geese) that consists of:
26% field peas
5% sunflower seeds
This gets us somewhere in the ballpark of 15% protein. We add alfalfa meal and fish meal to boost the protein as needed while the birds are in the brooder.
The ration seems to be working pretty well for us because 1) slow-growing/heritage breed genetics means our birds have less strict requirements, and 2) free-ranging our birds on pasture means they can pick up additional protein (among other things) as needed.
We (mostly) ferment the feed, which is said to increase the protein and vitamin/mineral availability, effectively giving you a better ration, though I've yet to try any side-by-side comparisons. (That's on the table for next year.)
Keep in mind there are inclusion limits on a number of feed ration components. I have a nice PDF titled (I think) Pastured Poultry Nutrition from the Fertrell Company that goes into great detail, though it is mostly geared toward the Cornish-Rock Cross. I don't know to what extent, if any, fermentation affects those inclusion limits.
Harvey Ussery suggests that, if your feed mix is diverse enough, as long as you ensure adequate protein everything else will more or less fall into place. Sounds good to me.
You didn't ask, but I'll volunteer anyway. You might reconsider the sort of "maximum production because of a commercial scale" concept. Could be that accepting a lower yield per bird/flock would work out, if there was a commensurate lowering of input costs, and perhaps a lengthening of your hens' productive lives. Often enough, it seems, one can accept a lower gross sales number while keeping net sales more or less steady. Speaking from experience (and very favorable comments from customers), this will probably give you a higher quality egg to boot, which may very well make sales that much easier. Something to think about, anyway.
We are not at a commercial scale operation but I have some friends that are, they use a certified organic feed that is very similar to what Wes listed out but they also have free choice oyster shell separate.
On Buzzard's roost the chooks freely range with the hogs and eat such a small amount of the feed we have in their coop that we rarely fill the one feeder more that once every two weeks.
We do have oyster shell available for them all the time, and I'm sure they eat some of the hog feed along with the fruits and vegetables the hogs receive daily.
How many chickens are you dealing with? and are they able to forage on their own? Those might be factors to take into consideration.