Though I have had my little chickee babies for only a little more then four months, I have become almost an expert at mixing up their feed...that is with the help of our forum members here.
At first I used the store starter feed with medication. Then I re-discovered my wheat storage in the garage. My mind started putting two and two together and I started grinding the wheat down to a small cracked stage and as the chicks got older (about 4 weeks) I added the cracked wheat to a "scratch/layer" feed I got from Pet Club in a big bag for $9.99. I began adding some corn meal which they really like.
Encouraged by the corn meal I started grinding down Orville Reddenbacher's popcorn kernels to a small cracked form which they gladly accepted. Then I started worrying about the animal protein that they weren't getting...went to Wal-Mart and purchased some goldfish food in pellet and/or stick form. It grinds down easily and it became a regular addition to my 'original' chick food...the chicks eat it greedily and grow rapidly. That fish food contains as the first ingredient fish meal, and another ingredient was krill, so they are getting a good amount of animal protein and other essential vitamin/mineral substances necessary for healthy organ growth.
I soon found that rolled oats were their most favorite food and started adding some to my concocted mixture without grinding it down. They started picking out the oats before eating the rest of the mixture even though I stirred it up good.
I have a couple of ferrets and they get the best of their kind of food that is on the market. One day I looked at the ingredients....the one I use is grain-free and 48% protein with the first three ingredients coming from animal sources. So I started grinding these pellets down to proper size for the chicks and they eat it well along with the other ingredients. I began looking at dog and cat foods. I'm not sure sitting here, but I think an IAMS product is one that I found to be grain-free and had a good amount of animal protein and fat. It gets ground down and is added to the chick food mixture.
I also crush down the egg shells from the eggs we use along with dried sea shells we have collected over the years. I will soon need to begin purchasing oyster shells (or use Calcium Citrate tablets). It's my opinion that they are getting an extremely healthy diet at not the great cost it would be for me to purchase packaged quality chicken food.
The only trouble with this is that they gobble it up very fast and I am making a new batch about every 2 to 3 days...which for me isn't a big deal since I am retired and I have the time. I was a pharmacist through my working years, and am very acquainted with recipes.
So, if any of you are of a mind to try this all it takes is a bit of time and a Bullet Blender like I use, or even a coffee bean grinder would work.
I forgot to mention one other ingredient, but it MUST be cooked and partially dried before feeding to birds. That is RICE. They like rice but given from the bag without cooking will cause death because the rice grain absorbs water from their body and dehydrates them. Of course, with it cooked (about 12-15 minutes) it has absorbed the water and is still solid enough for the chicks to pick out the grains easily. Because of the moisture content I do not mix it into their regular feed I make, but I either scatter it on top of the feed, or place it in a separate dish. They like this rice almost as much as they do oatmeal.
I use the rolled oats for a treat. Now they come to me whenever I step outside because quite frequently I will have some oats in my hand. They fly/run toward me pretty fast and sometimes I have to duck.
This is a long treatise, but I hope it is helpful to those of you who have grown to appreciate these birds. I know some of you have come to 'love' yours.
Edited by A V Davidson - 1/25/16 at 3:57pm