Chickensaresweet's Page

By ChickensAreSweet · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Feb 9, 2014 · ·
  1. ChickensAreSweet

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and love my chickens. My feed is a mix of different seeds and grains. I also mix in organic layer pellets on occasion, but have been known to go months without them. They are really just treats.

    Here is my recipe (all is animal-grade except split peas, peanuts, and flax seed):

    1/3 organic chick starter and 2/3 of the following:

    wheat (white or red)
    Black Oil Sunflower Seed
    organic cracked or whole corn
    rolled oats
    rolled barley
    split peas

    oyster shell mixed into the feed each day ( has instructions on how much to give)
    grit #3 cherrystone brand
    Redmond Mineral conditioner

    I aim for 15% protein or so.
    They love more grains in the winter.

    I have learned that if you give them too many split peas, flax seed, or pumpkin seeds (I used to give pumpkin seeds when I had large fowl in greater quantities), that they will just leave them.

    My recipe inspiration comes from

    I make sure they have grass to forage on. When I have rotated them to the pen without grass, I use yard scissors to cut them fresh grass almost every day. Keep grass clippings short (2-3 inches) to prevent impacted crop. Giving them greens is essential I have found for their happiness, and also keeps the feed bill down.A VERY important part of their diet is fresh greens.

    Please note that there are vitamin deficiencies that can crop up if you don't give them green grass to eat on a regular basis since my recipe doesn't call for artificial vitamins. Another good thing to give them is milk or cooked meat on occasion. I have a poultry nutrition book from decades ago with some good information. It is nice to buy a reference if you like to mix feed.

    If I don't mix the oyster shell into the feed, the eggshells become too thin. I also provide a hopper with oyster shell and grit of the two different sizes so they can supplement if needed.

    Thank you to all those who have shared their knowledge on BYC regarding diet, and also thanks to Chris09 for teaching about protein content.

    "Too many people forget or don't know that by feeding a all grain or high grin diet they increase a higher risk of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency since most grains are deficient in vitamin B2." - Chris09

    For those of you who wish to mix your own feed, I recommend sourcing everything you can at the feed store. Animal-grade is much cheaper than human-grade.

    Also, please note that for baby chicks under 8 weeks I feed organic starter crumbles. They are too small to eat the larger seeds/grains.

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  1. NanaRose
    Thanks for the update. My chicks turned 5 weeks old last Thursday. Somehow on the weekend I just knew it was time to put the oystershell into their feed and in a dish w/grit in their pen. They don't eat much, but they do peck on it. I think I may have finally, now that they're about out of that phase :), discovered a 'crumbles' homemade recipe that suits. They're still alive, and I am, too!
  2. NanaRose
    Yes, I would consider kelp pretty expensive. My DH said today, "Well, our first eggs are going to end up costing us $200 a piece. :) I found that I may be able to get some type of peas at the feed store. All he has now is soybeans, and after all I know of soybeans, I don't plan to get started on them. I'm using split peas from the grocery right now. Grinding them, just a bit in my mix. I did find out that I can get rice bran at the feed store, and affordable! Excellent source of protein. Oddly enough, the feed store sells it for deer and horse feed. Got DE. Now to learn to use it. Thanks again.
  3. ChickensAreSweet
    I don't mind questions at all! Thank you for inquiring! I am happy you are doing well with your homemade rations. I buy my kelp meal from the feed store. It was very expensive- like $73 for a 50 lb bag awhile ago. I am using it so slowly though, as I only put a little scoop in with a large bin of feed.
    Yes I have some chicks that are about 2 1/2 weeks old now and I am still sprinkling the grit over the food too. This is good as they are ingesting a few millet grains here and there. It would be good to give them enough mash to last them until you give them the next batch...already what you are doing most likely:) I am so happy to hear that everything is going well for you and your chicks!!!
  4. NanaRose
    I guess I've become, ummm, started out, a whole grain and seed feeder, too. :) We're doing okay on my homemade ration, that is evolving. The chicks are now taking milk pretty well, as long as the mash I make up is not too wet. Serve it to them 3 times a day. Using Bob's Red Mill hormone free milk powder. :)
    I hope you do not mind questions. Where do you get your kelp meal? And do I give the now 2-week old chicks grit? I've had varying advice from no to yes. I'm now giving them just a bit of grit, what the feed store woman calls 'salt & pepper', fine grit. I've watched them, and the chicks go for it. I sort of 'salt' their food and also tossed it on the floor of the cage and watched them.
  5. ChickensAreSweet
    Cornbread! Yum!
  6. NanaRose
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience! I have learned that my chicks are not big on milk, but this evening they ate cornbread, made with milk and eggs. :) They do Not like mash-- not big on wet feed at all. I think it is because at the feed store they got starter crumbles and then came home here to my homemade meal mixture and just dug in and loved it from the get-go. This is all an experiment for me, thus quite stressful, more so than the chicks seem to undergo. :)
  7. ChickensAreSweet
    You can find the small flakes of oyster shell at the feed store. I would not feed powdered shells, as they need it free choice rather than a forced amount unless they are laying (and then it needs to be precisely measured as in what is in layer pellets). So, in other words, they should have a little bin of it to the side and they will self-regulate. The ones who aren't laying yet will eat a little of it but not overindulge. If you don't have a feed store nearby you can probably get it on internet. You can make a wet mash for chicks with the powdered milk, but only make what they can eat for that day as it will get moldy if left for two days. I have never fed cod liver oil so cannot advise you on that. :)
  8. NanaRose
    I need to find ground or powdered oyster shell for my chicks. I did get a grinder, easy to do peas and corn and rice, but I don't want to try the oyster shell, since it is a grain grinder. Don't want to ruin it on the harder stuff. My chicks do not seem to like milk, at least not made from powder-- hormone free, Bob's Red Mill. And tried cod liver oil today by breaking open a tablet. They don't seem to appreciate it at all. :(
  9. NanaRose
    Thank you for your generosity in sharing your mixture. I'm still studying, hope to find substitutes for the wheat and barley.
  10. ChickensAreSweet
    I figured it out before the price of grains went up recently and it was 55 cents a pound or so at that time...but my mix also included at the time Nyjer thistle seed and pumpkin seeds and those are quite expensive. I haven't calculated it at the new prices/with current ingredients. Generally it is not cheaper to buy and mix your own unless you can get a really good price from a farmer or other source on some of it. Thanks for the inquiries all!
  11. 1shotcleaner
    just out of wonder what is the price you have on your feed mixture?
  12. ChickensAreSweet
    I use organic chick starter for chicks up to 8 weeks, since the seeds are really too large for them to ingest (to receive adequate protein). Even with grinding- I would want to include roasted soybean meal for them as they aren't really able to go get worms to increase their protein content of their diet. It is very difficult to achieve that 20% protein level unless you ground up all the peanuts and increased the amounts, for example. The short answer is that I don't know how to do it. :)
  13. ncmtngal
    Thanks for this info. Would a modification of this recipe work for chicks as well?

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