TO ALL WHO WISH TO FEED ORGANIC formulas to game birds and our beloved Quail.... I want to help you be humane and educated in your decision on feeding.
Hello, I am slowsprings and I have researched this feeding option for the last 11 months. I finally found a miller in Colorado , Ranchway Feeds that creates a NON GMO organic turkey starter of 24% . I ran it by some of the "most skeptical/ most knowledgeable" and had some of our BYC heavy hitters and long time educators pick apart ingredient list of other and all organic feeds with me. I searched from coast to coast for organic formulas.
The problems I found resulted in the organic rations not having enough protein from a meat / insect type source. I have 30 laying hens and can NOT keep up with the need of the protein needs of this special bird. I am expanding to 100 hens. I had to make a move to save lives. Growing tons of mealworms and hard boiling tons of eggs each night was tiring an already disabled mom.
JJmr stated to me many times that the birds need Vitamin B12 which is mostly found in meat, blood, bone, meals. I listened to him and searched, presented formulas, had pies thrown at em...(you know jj and joe125 are wonderful for that.. adore you guys..) Quaillady and I spoke on other terms of wild seeds, thistle, finch mix, alfalfa fines.
I tried feeding a ration of turkey starter from Ranchway of 24% organic and non gmo.... I started having birds literally eating each others feathers and then MOVING INTO CANNIBALISM FOR NEED OF PROTEIN that plants and grains do not provide.
This is serious to me as a humane educator and former cruelty inspector.
Please, please, find your birds a supplement of meat meal from a local organic meat farm/ranch or you can use organic meat ground with hard boiled egg (shell and all). Grind them up together (meat meal in fresh form from the ranch is really pebbles of frozen fat and meat = hamburger if you will) in the food processor in large batches. I flash boil mine to avoid salmonella, then cool and feed it with the organic ration. I also make mixes and freeze them in big bags in our deep freezer and pull out day of feeding (mixing the grain ration, oyster shell, meat/egg meal).
I have spoken to Ranchway's Nutritionist a PhD, Dr. Kelsey Swyers, from Fort Collins' Veterinary University of Colorado. She knows "we are out here" I told her I would be presenting my research on organic feed and the discovery that Ranchway is the only one with a promise of NON GMO organic feed with a 24% protein and her, YES HER recommendation to feed the local grown meat meal 1part to 3 parts of their organic turkey grower while she works hard on a gamebird ration. She stated it is very hard for mills to get approval with other meat based food stuffs going through the mill. The "organic" inspections are a tough act to follow, so the nutritionists in these feed companies have it hard folks.
Jj was very patient with me and looked at some formulas that are organic non gmo designed for Chickens. NO, this does not work my friends. Your birds will suffer a deficiency in protein and you will come to the point that they begin feather eating and then canibalism through a form of "starvation" of protein/ B12.
Meal worms help, but I had a hard time keeping up with the need, and hard boiling eggs every night to come up with enough B12 to feather them back out and stop the pecking for blood.
We are talking about Coturnix here. Sweet, simple Coturnix not known for cannibalism.
Ranchway is looking to create a supplement and even a ration that answers this particular lack in the turkey starter ...and address gamebirds. She (PhD Swyers) was with me the whole way along with JJmr (big thank you to JJ and Model A, as well as QuailLady, Joe125, Mille and TwoCrows and of course the ever happy and encouraging Fat Daddy).
While Ranchway is creating this protein mix, I use ground fresh meat meal with hard boiled eggs. I ocassionally put in meal worms too! But I am hatching too many birds to have a giant meal worm farm.
Check your grocer, local meat processors for meat meal. If it has some fat in it ...all the better. You will help the animal.
*** We can not convert Quail into a non insectivore or a vegetarian. Much the same as you can not convert a Cat to a vetetarian. Cats are what biology and veterinary medicine call "obligate carnivores". If they do not have the type of protein that meat provides (that a cat kidney and liver DEPEND ON) they will die.
It would be a cruelty to animals charge. If I were still an investigator and found someone who had done this to an animal I would consider charging them.
This is why I felt aweful , ashamed.... when the Coturnix under my care started to suffer from Protein/ Vitamin B12 deficiency. Willful neglect of an animal's specific dietary needs. Please heed my advise and know it comes with the same organically grown care and wish for good health for your eggs and Quail. Luckily my experience was short lived! * It could have also had genetics playing a part. I had purchased from mass breeder online. Resulting in some birds in the Quail House with non selective breeding. Never again. Seek known quality breeders who know their lines and have selected good birds...(a side note to add for safety)
Ranchway's organic turkey starter at 24% protein is now served here at our farm at 3 parts in the feed dish and 1 part meat meal ground with hard boiled egg. Along with Kale, Spinach, Mealworms, Apple Slices and what ever organic greens, vegetables, legumes I am growing. I hung pea vines with pod and all from the roofs of the aviaries /pens. This provided environmental enrichment AND nutrition.
Thistle seed, sunflower hearts (no shell) amarenth (pig weed), alfalfa fines, ground pea, fish meal (watch for the taste of the egg here), are all different protein boosts...but my Quail are looking glossy and full again and no one is lying pecked to death when I come to the Quail house ever again. Please learn with me and know you are feeding
"AN OBLIGATE INSECTIVORE/CARNIVORE". It will need to be a truck load of mealworms to meet the need. Ranchway is working on it. In the meantime, if in your area there is a miller/meat packer that can provide you with a supplement for 1/3rd of the diet along with all of those vegetable/grain based proteins, seek them out and use their organic product till we can get these Feed companies on board.
Join me in asking the Feed Company of your local region to supply an organic option, whether they use ground pea, non gmo soy, non gmo corn...AND SO IMPORTANTLY a protein source serving the obligate insectivores we raise. We can do this, as there are a number of us here. They don't make it yet "because no one has asked" quoting Ranchway's Dr. Swyers. She is happy and determined...asking me questions in emails.
Murray Mc Murray Hatchery and Blue Seal state they have organic rations for gamebirds but that they are on BACKORDER on their websites. I want to know what the formula is. I want us to post feed ingredient lists here so we can check them to protect the Quail's need.
I want to show it to Quaillady, Jjmr, Joe125, Mille, TwoCrows and other experienced obligate insectivore raisers. I almost want to start calling our Quail that....OBLIGATE INSECTIVORES....so that it reminds you who want to feed organic, what your GOAL is.
Seeing feathers gone? Pecking for blood? Possible lice or mites....but check your feed... ladies and gentlemen. I have put it to the experienced and they have spoken. Help is on the way, but only in Colorado so far. Dr. Swyers says they can ship and she has some coals under her now , poor thing..(I apologized while we laughed on the phone, as I told her I was taking the info to the BYC and other forums).
Make it happen in your area. Call the customer line on your feed sack label if you buy organic and have to compromise by taking turkey starter...talk to the nutritionist (asking for a game bird option) and explore local organic ways to feed your birds. Local first is also sustainable. It is the way the entire country is moving. You help another farm and create an organic collaboratively grown product! GO!
Shoot for 24%, low / no salt and look for B12 ! Post it here so experienced eyes can see it.
Thank you Quaillady for finding me and bringing me on to help with you. Hugs to you shug.
If there is a possibility of making this a sticky, can we? Organic Game bird feeders need help and a voice BYC admin.
Edited by kahlertm - 12/3/11 at 11:35am
Strong supporter of educating people about the needs of animals, 4-H and animals in schools.