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Chicken fodder/forage success stories?

Posts: 294
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Tj Jefferson wrote: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.

A long time ago, when people didn't own refrigerators, they did keep eggs without refrigeration. My sister in France told me that the tradition of pancakes at Candlemas  was a way to use all the eggs that had been saved in the fall. Candlemas is in early February, so that is quite a long time!
It is the US that is the odd one out with washing the eggs and refrigerating them. I don't remember getting eggs from the refrigerator section when I lived in France.
I have kept eggs about 3 months in cornstarch. They were still fine. I heard that slaked lime gives them a taste but I've never tried.
As far as the heat, yep, they sometimes walk around with their wings away from their bodies and their beak open. We have very sandy soil, so in the cool of the shade, they love to bathe. That seems to be what cools them best and fastest. Someone once told me they use a little fan blowing over a sac of ice. That would cool the coop pretty fast, i should think, but if you get quite a few hot days, that gets expensive.
Posts: 77
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Tj Jefferson wrote: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.

Ty, I'm envious of your energy and thoroughly through planning. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and problem solve along the way. The bsf just showed up in my worm bin. But they sure vanish when the temperature drops below 60° or so. And if I don't put in something dry for them to eat I can't get them clean enough to throw to the girls. I throw the occasional dead thing in there and I worry about transferring any bad bacteria to the hens. And it just seems gross to fling a scoopful of wet slop over the fence for them to pick through. Am I wrong to worry about that?
Today I put a cup of catfood in a colander and they worked their way through the holes and I just threw them and the few remaining kibbles to the chickens. I'm trying to find the easiest way to separate the larvae from the compost. Right now it's a nasty wet sloppy black sludgey mess in there and thousands of wiggling larvae munching away. You can hear it. Wonderful, but ugh.
Posts: 147
Location: Monticello Florida
homeschooling forest garden foraging chicken wofati food preservation wood heat homestead
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Bryan Beck wrote: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.  

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Reducing bagged food for poultry!

Please and thank you!
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