Originally Posted by sonofabish1
This week my 30 meat chickens will hit their 7th week and we are taking them to the butcher on Sunday. They average 6-7lbs each and I have been feeding them fermented feed (20% Purina Flock Raiser crumbles) since week 1. I monitored their weight weekly and adjusted the amount of feed accordingly. Right now I am feeding them one 5gal bucket a day - 1/2 in morning, 1/2 in evening. Below are some of my thoughts compared to last year when I fed them dry feed - all they wanted to eat for 12 hours.
-Seem to be generally more healthy and active. Last year at this time it seemed like a struggle for them to just stand up and get to the food. Now they walk around, jump and flap wings and seem better. [This could be due to my better management of food consumption]
-Drink less water.
-Use less feed, even the dust at the bottom of the bag gets turned into edible food [May also be due to better management]
-More time consuming. With only 30 I still struggled keeping up with having a bucket to feed from that day and 1-2 as backups. Mixing the crumbles to the right consistency was a chore.
-Messy, Mixing always led to spillage, slopping feed always seemed to get everywhere.
-Poop still runny and stinky, maybe because it's just crumbles and no grains but I didn't see a difference.
-Generally more work. My coop in 250ft from the house so I got tired of carrying full 5gal buckets back and forth. After 4 weeks of this twice a day (first 3 were in the garage brooder) I can tell my arms are more muscular (I guess that parts a PRO).
-My wife couldn't help as much, being 6 months pregnant and a small frame she couldn't carry the buckets around and had difficulty feeding when I wasn't around.
For the next go-around I'm not sure if I'm going to continue feeding this way or go back to the dry. Thanks everyone for the help getting me going and exploring the option of FF. I'll keep lurking in case I may be of help to others.
Here's some tips for if you wish to do it again...my first time ever using FF was on 54 meat birds and I didn't seem to have the same struggles you did, though my coop was also a fair distance from the house (100 yds). Think ergonomics. Though I couldn't relocate my water and it had to be carried each day to the site, the feed didn't.....I located my feed cans next to the coop so my chores were less effort and more streamlined. I managed to feed 54 meat birds out of one bucket, feeding once per evening and replenishing the bucket right afterwards....by the next evening the feed was fully fermented.
Carrying a full 5 gal. bucket of wet feed to the coop just doesn't make any sense....carrying the water, yes, if you have to, but there's still ways around that....5 gal. buckets with lids tied to a dolly, in a garden cart behind the mower, in the back of the truck, collect rainwater at the coop, etc. Work smarter, not harder, and I think your next experience will be different....the only thing changed from feeding dry is the addition of water. That's it. If you can get the water to the coop, the rest is pretty much the same if you store your dry feed where it's handy for mixing at the feeding site.
Mix it drier if you want less messy poops, as was suggested. As for any spilled or slopped feed....if you have real meaties, I don't think that would be an issue...they eat everything, so clean up is not an issue.
Putting in the water before the feed and noting the ratios when you hit it right will give you a better mixing experience....once you know how much your particular feed can absorb, you know exactly how much water to use to get the right consistency....just takes noticing and playing with it first and then find your formula. My current feed is layer mash and it takes exactly one bucket of water to one bucket of feed to get my chosen consistency, but if I use a more fine ground feed like chick starter, that all changes a little, so one just has to know their feed.
As for stink...well...that's just meaties for you. Using deep litter, huge ventilation and free ranging can help it and feeding FF also helps it, but if you don't keep up with the deep litter, don't have really good ventilation or have too high a stocking rate for your land or pens, there will always be a measure of stink with meaties...their feed goes through them too quickly to digest fully due to their high metabolism.