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Pastured colored broilers/DP birds without commercial feed?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Does anyone raise meat chickens without commercial feed? We'll be raising colored broilers and dual purpose cockerels on our pasture that has grains mixed in. We move their night shelters around and they are ranging from sunup to sundown. We're wondering if they'll get everything they need.

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Farmer Grammy, loving the good life and sharing it at:

The Homesteader School--practical how-to's for urban, suburban, and rural homesteaders

Homesteader Gifts Etsy Shop--gifts for chicken peeps, homesteaders, farmers, gardeners

Facebook: The Homesteader School

Twitter: @HomesteadSchool

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post #2 of 9

That is a huge question and one best answered by starting with a soil test and then samples of the forage checking protein levels. From there you could better determine where any shortfalls may be and what you need to supplement. We get soil and forage sampling done annually because of our dairy animals and it is not complicated or expensive. Even the best straight forage system is likely to slow the growth rate.

"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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post #3 of 9

We let the Rangers on pasture, but still give them feed.  I let the DP chooks run around willy-nilly in grass, eating bugs etc and still feed them and I'm not trying to fatten them up.

If I can't be a good example, I'll just have to be a horrible warning.
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If I can't be a good example, I'll just have to be a horrible warning.
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post #4 of 9

I run pasture and supplemental feed but the recipe i use is mine, so I know whats in it.

STANDARD:  Wheaten, Black, Blue Ameraucana, Splash, Partridge Silkies, Ga Noi, Lavender Orpington, SQ Black Minorca, Black Langshan, RC RIR
BANTAM: SQ Black Mottled d'Uccles, SQ Gold Neck, Butterscotch & Mottled Buff Booted, Black, Blue & Mille Fleur Cochin, Serama,
Winnebago Co Poultry Superintendent, WI Pullorum Tester

 

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STANDARD:  Wheaten, Black, Blue Ameraucana, Splash, Partridge Silkies, Ga Noi, Lavender Orpington, SQ Black Minorca, Black Langshan, RC RIR
BANTAM: SQ Black Mottled d'Uccles, SQ Gold Neck, Butterscotch & Mottled Buff Booted, Black, Blue & Mille Fleur Cochin, Serama,
Winnebago Co Poultry Superintendent, WI Pullorum Tester

 

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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstaven 

That is a huge question and one best answered by starting with a soil test and then samples of the forage checking protein levels. From there you could better determine where any shortfalls may be and what you need to supplement. We get soil and forage sampling done annually because of our dairy animals and it is not complicated or expensive. Even the best straight forage system is likely to slow the growth rate.


kstaven--we've had our soil tested (at U Mass) but not forage. I'll check into that. What time of year do you send out your forage sample?

Farmer Grammy, loving the good life and sharing it at:

The Homesteader School--practical how-to's for urban, suburban, and rural homesteaders

Homesteader Gifts Etsy Shop--gifts for chicken peeps, homesteaders, farmers, gardeners

Facebook: The Homesteader School

Twitter: @HomesteadSchool

Reply

Farmer Grammy, loving the good life and sharing it at:

The Homesteader School--practical how-to's for urban, suburban, and rural homesteaders

Homesteader Gifts Etsy Shop--gifts for chicken peeps, homesteaders, farmers, gardeners

Facebook: The Homesteader School

Twitter: @HomesteadSchool

Reply
post #6 of 9

We free range, but since we sell our broilers we mix our own organic feed.
I believe that you can raise poultry  on pasture exclusively, though you will not get the weight gains needed for a cost effective turn over.
A couple hundred chickens will need to be moved to different areas in order for the pasture to regain its growth.
Our pastures will not be ready till May, but we can get good gains and cut down our feed cost once the pastures begin to produce.
If long term and good quality forrage is available you should be good for pasture raised chickens.


Good Luck

post #7 of 9

Mrs. Mucket :

Quote:
Originally Posted by kstaven 

That is a huge question and one best answered by starting with a soil test and then samples of the forage checking protein levels. From there you could better determine where any shortfalls may be and what you need to supplement. We get soil and forage sampling done annually because of our dairy animals and it is not complicated or expensive. Even the best straight forage system is likely to slow the growth rate.


kstaven--we've had our soil tested (at U Mass) but not forage. I'll check into that. What time of year do you send out your forage sample?


We wait until it is about a foot tall or better to get a good baseline. I won't suggest a time of year because of different growing climates we all have.

"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Reply
"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Reply
post #8 of 9

It's what I do, but I don't rely on pasture as the main feed. Greens are good for vitamin A but the protein (as others have said) is very variable.

I move my chicks fairly early onto the sprout diet with wheat, corn, peas and sunflower (all sprouted), alfalfa meal (or lucerne chaff as we call it, soaked in molasses water),  sweet lupins, meat meal, yeast, a little seaweed meal, and probiotics (kefir whey). This is their basis, then they get to eat whatever's under their feet until the next tractor move.

Last group of chicks (only 12) were on this diet from day 2, but I also included a little cracked corn and dry millet early on until their gizzards were able to grind the harder bigger seeds.

I feel it's best to provide a ration with the appropriate protein level and if I find they're filling up on greens instead then assume they probably know best... You can judge how much ration to put out by what they ate yesterday. Whereas if the protein isn't there in either the ration or the grass, it might only become obvious when the birds fail to thrive.

Good luck with whatever system you choose, mine seems to work well for me.

http://www.permachicken.com Permaculture chicken blog: raising chickens with fewer industrial inputs.

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http://www.permachicken.com Permaculture chicken blog: raising chickens with fewer industrial inputs.

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post #9 of 9

We are lucky in that we only have to go to sprouts in the winter. Then we have our dairy animals on it also.

That is the problem with discussing feeds and practices. What applies to myself doesn't work in the next valley over and doesn't apply on properties around us that have been cropped to death with no thought to long term soil health.

Whey from our cheese production is high protein candy to the chickens.

"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Reply
"If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Reply
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