Originally Posted by GabrielBane
X3 Regarding farmland.... We've barely settled our 4 fours, but are so ready to get out of Florida that we've already started looking around.
Honestly, I just feed all of my birds Startena 30%Game-Bird starter. Where I'm at it's the only food that has animal protein period. In a few weeks, I'll switch them over to a breeder ration, but so far I haven't had to do much supplementing (I am feeding eggs now just for calcium as well as some black soldier fl larvae I got free from grubblies the birds LOVE them).
I can't find anything in a bag that has animal protein in it. Feather Fixer is the best base feed I can find for them (empirically, seeing how they do on it and how they like eating it) - I used to feed everyone a combo of 16% layer feed and 24% starter. That worked ok, but Feather Fixer is better. All of that is vegetarian/soy based, though. Egg quality is better on Feather Fixer, and better still with them getting the animal protein. I very well may pursue the black soldier fly thing at this point.
Originally Posted by DesertChic
Originally Posted by ejcrist
I do the same as you - feed higher protein Starter-Grower or Feather Fixer, and believe it or not I got asked the same question the other day at the feed store. I found my layers do substantially better with the higher protein and oyster shell free-choice. I go through more oyster shell of course but it's cheap when you buy it in bulk. Anyway my hatchery layers are putting out at about 70%-80% of what they were during their peak earlier in the year. Also from what you told me a while back about feeding yours ground meat, I've been giving mine ground pork once a week and they recovered from molting lickety split. There's still one or two that are dragging it out but it completely cured the majority inside 2-3 weeks - I couldn't believe my eyes. So I continue to give them the "on-sale" ground pork that's near expiration and life is good for them. They don't need much, just about 1 lb for 10-15 birds. I couldn't believe the difference it made. I never intend to go back to 16% layer ever again. And, just like you said, they don't go through near as much of the higher protein feed as they did the layer feed when they were on it. My feed bill is definitely less than when they were on layer exclusively.
Have you ever fed your birds any 22% meatbird feed? I did when I had some leftover from the last batch of Cornish Crosses and they did very well on it. They ate less of that than they do the Feather Fixer but the Nutrena Meatbird feed is quite a bit pricier. For now I'm just sticking with Feather Fixer, the ground pork once a week, mealworms on occasion, and a Purina Free Range Block. That's been working well for me.
I actually start all of my chicks on gamebird feed of at least 24% protein for the first two weeks and then begin reducing the protein levels as their growth rates level off. My meat bird (soy-free, corn-free, canola-free) is only 20% protein, but yes, they love it and they do really well on it. I'm actually thinking of keeping the Silver Gray Dorkings on this until they reach POL and then switching them to the 18% protein. By then there should be more free-range protein available anyway.
During the spring and sometimes summer months I'll feed more 16% feed, but only if there's plenty of greens growing and bugs or lizards around for the chickens to eat.
We're having issues with Javelina right now and I've seriously considered shooting the buggers and leaving their carcasses for the chickens to pick clean...you know...destroying all of the evidence. Can't get much fresher protein than that.
I am seriously tempted by the ground meat thing. Meanwhile, I do what DesertChic does, and start everyone on 24% at first. (I might start on 20% now, though, if I'm going to be doing the egg thing). There are lots of lizards around, but I'm not sure the girls are getting them, they all hang out on the house.
Ugh, SO sorry you have javelina issues. What a mess they make! Sounds like a good source of protein for the chickens! (Is is prohibited to shoot them there? I'm not sure it is here, but I haven;t looked it up - they are really destructive pests here in Texas.)
I like hearing about everyone's different ways of getting animal protein to their chickens on this thread. I think I'm pretty convinced they need it. Love hearing the options. (They DO adore the livers and hearts when I cull, but I don't cull enough for that to be much more than a treat...)
- Ant Farm