Why do we need another chicken blog or forum?

Many chicken forums are moderated to sell commercial feed, chemicals and ideology.
I prefer to find my own balance between nature, welfare and cost in raising happy chickens.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

home made chook feed

Just thought I'd share the home made chicken feed recipe... It would work incredibly well with uncontaminated (non mouldy) grains. The beauty of making your own chook feed, if you have fresh or well stored ingredients, is that the chooks prefer it, there's no cheap filler (like milo, those little red seeds birds hate; or biscuit and processed waste as in pellets), and you can vary the quantities to suit protein needs of different age birds.

70% of the ration is soaked or sprouted wheat. Just soak a quarter bucket of wheat (and corn in the amount below) in a full water bucket for 24 hours, then drain and leave hanging in a bag until used (within 4 days so the sprouts aren't too long).
10% of the ration is lucerne chaff soaked in molasses water.
10% is corn (soaked and sprouted), except in summer when it's reduced in favour of wheat (because corn can overheat the birds).
5% is a mix of lupins and sunflower.
5% is a mix of meat meal and soya bean meal.

On top of the above, shell grit and greens are supplied ad lib; both shell grit and greens are high in calcium for layers. Some grit is also mixed through the feed if the chooks seem to need a bit more calcium for eggshells.

I also add a dessertspoonful (per 10 birds) of mixed yeast, seaweed meal and livamol, if I feel like it... Though you have to be careful with seaweed meal, and never do it ad lib, as it can be way too high in iodine. The yeast is good for B vitamins.

Lastly I give the birds a handful of bandsaw dust (from a butcher) every couple of days as a source of animal protein. But it can be a bit high in phosphorus, which over time (if overfed) will produce soft shelled eggs by upsetting the calcium-phosphorus ratio, so this needs to be limited.

It all sounds very fiddly and scientific, but when it all boils down to it, I keep 3 separate mixed bins (one with the wheat/corn, one with lupins/lucerne/sunflower, and 1 with protein meals) and add a pinch of the other stuff as I go. Mixing the feed takes a few minutes; getting the grains soaked is about the same amount of time once per 4 days. Keeping rats off the soaked grain has been a problem because they learned to climb down the hanging wire from the rafters, but I put a stop to that using a sort of metal guard around the wire (which they couldn't grip or get past), or I simply tucked the sprouts into bed at night in a spare bin.

Birds can be reared on this diet by varying the protein using Pearson's square (google that). But roughly consider that lupins are around 20-22% protein, while wheat can be 10-16% depending on where grown and what type. Even without Pearson's square you can simply average the feeds by twos (say 19%) and then dilute that to achieve the layer and breeder ideal of around 17%.

Oops... Again it sounds a bit fiddly. But once you have the estimates in your head, and work on the recipe as a rough guide, you really can't go wrong unless the wheat happens to be spoiled... Which is another story.

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