Feeding our flocks
I have custom mixed our own poultry feed for years. Here is an example of some feed I mix, and how to utilize it to feed your flocks and optimize their good health:
I have worked on homemade feeds since 2013, with the help of fellow farmers, reference books, and my professors at OSU, etc. We aim to be a no-soy farm, and feed a lot of whole grains/seeds, fermented or sprouted. I buy ingredients from the local feed store, Azure Standard (bulk co-op drop) and Concentrates, Inc. I buy in bulk and store, mix, soak and more… right here on the farm.
Customizing your own feed is fairly simple to do, and to craft it in whatever protein % you want – for example for turkeys, I made a 24% protein feed mix that worked very well (and helped make their feces less stinky!) To formulate your own balanced feed, you just need to do some basic calculations.
For example, if barley is 12% protein and you add 6# of it to a 20# mixture – the math is simply the weight of ingredient/total weight of feed, times the protein. i.e. 6/20=0.3 then 0.3*12 = 3.6% protein for that mix. So, if you have:
- 6# barley (12% protein)
- 5# oats (11%)
- 5# corn (9%)
- and 4# peas (24%)
The total would be ~ 13.5% protein in a 20# mix. I usually add to that to bring it up to ~ 19% protein through the custom mineral/meal mix that includes the items on the dry nutrient part of the example label (download above). I just make a chart with pencil and keep working on it until it comes out right – usually adding a column for $/# so I can compare ingredients and make the best choices.
Besides mixing our own feed, we provide sprouted barley and BOSS (sprouting after soaking in ACV prevents mold, and I free choice the soaking water back to them), pumpkin seeds, and regular treats of fruit, mealworms, shredded carrots, whole cabbage, wild and cropped herbs, and weeds, etc. I have a local guy who gets milled feed mixes for me and delivers a ton at a time, in 55 gal barrels. (This same guy can get spent brewer’s grains for us – great when we have a pig!)
I follow Molly’s herbal worming regimen for all our critters, with the addition of garlic, ACV and the pumpkin seeds… plus regular supplements as needed (for chickens that is oyster, grit, etc.) All critters also get kombucha on occasion in their soaked foodstuffs. Last fall I played around with making my own suet (for the chickens) and it worked great… saving it in the freezer to feed for a winter treat.
Calculating, mixing, storing and providing your chickens with homemade feed sounds complicated, but it isn’t, especially if you start small and build on it! I love doing it, and we choose to provide all of our animals with the utmost wellness through wholesome nutrition – after all they are our food, too.
In the end, with their better feed conversion ratio with quality soaked foodstuffs, there are real $ savings to be had! Besides, if we are storing bulk animal feed, shouldn’t it be something we could eat if need be?