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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

buying non-medicated grower... difficult!

The local feed shop guy was astounded. 'You want what?'
'Non medicated grower.'
'Because my birds don't need cocci meds any more. I wean them at six weeks.'

He told me I'll lose birds, 100% guaranteed, they'll die. When I explained that I don't hatch many chicks, I introduce them to the parasite slowly and in measured quantities, I always keep an eye on chick behaviour (going off feed is the first sign of coccidiosis), and I raise them on a solid floor before moving them at 3 weeks to fresh ground, he softened slightly. But he still couldn't think of a supplier I could use.

One hour's drive away I finally found a feed store that sold 'meat bird finisher', which has a good enough protein content (20%) for six week old chicks but isn't medicated. They only had one bag, and told me if I want more I have to order it in. Fair enough, but that's a lot of petrol just to pick up some bird feed. Even sillier, it's come all the way from SA.

What I think I need to do is grow more of my own chicken feed, if possible. Of course I'll still have to buy in fish meal and meat meal, or some similar high protein concentrate — there just aren't enough insects here for all my birds, and the day-predators like eagles and goshawks are too damn keen — but I should be able to supply a good deal of their requirements.

With that in mind I've planted 8 tagasaste (tree lucerne) bushes, and will soon be sowing a range of other chicken-feed crops like peas and sunflowers. The grower tractor will become the fertilising spreader, and the quarter-acre in the middle of our block will be dedicated to food producing. It's not much, but it'll help.