I love ALL my birds. There isn't a single one I would want to sell or give away today. I am happy to give away some of the expense of feeding good quality food though, and in fact I have done just that! This diet works for all juvenile and adult layers, breeders, and most future entrees. Using this diet does not mean you won't need to add vitamins/mineral suppliments to drinking water.
I must still recomend chick starter for the first 2-3 monthes for all young birds, and fast growing meat birds should also be fed prepared food partially or entirely.
I keep birds to be more self sufficient. Its OK if some are very pet-like. Its OK that I have chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys running around together. It's OK that I have to go to the trouble to keep several individual pens for separating into pure varieties for breeding seasons and pure eggs. It's NOT OK that I have to drop major dollars for food! There is a fine line between self sufficiency and foolishness, and I'd prefer to have healthy birds and money in the bank. I would like to share with you how I do this. Let my pictures of my own birds help you determine if I'm gong about this correctly, but I assure you, I have happy, vigorous, and healthy birds. I have 50+ mouths to feed, so I like to think outside my wallet.
I mix my own feed from whole grains. Other than the cost savings, I feel good about this since whole grains are better for my birds (and an earth friendly choice.) Whole grains don't lose healthfulness as quickly as ground and processed foods. Also, whole grain blends like mine allow each variety of birds to pick out more of what they need and love, instead of one choice only for everyone.
Hen scratch, corn, oats, wheat, BOSS,
and a measuring pan
Since I feed waterfowl, chickens, and turkeys together, I have chosen a blend a little higher in protein. I purchase 100 lbs (2- 50# bags) of hen scratch, 1 50# bag of whole wheat, 1 50# bag of whole oats, 1-50# cracked or whole corn, and 1-50# bag of black oil sunflower seeds (aka BOSS) at a time. (I only buy BOSS every other purchase) Choose a smallish container (I use an old enamel 2 quart saucepan with a handle) to use when mixing grains. For every bucket, I use 2 level pans of hen scratch (a mix of whole milo, oats, a little corn and a few sunflower seeds in our local mix), 1 level pan of oats, 1 level pan of wheat, 1 level pan of corn, and 1/2 pan of BOSS. (This is a 2-1-1-1-.5 ratio) I mix these up well in my bucket before feeding. I also like to throw in 2 cups of grit twice a week - you must use grit when feeding anything other than ground prepared food. It can also be provided seperately, like oyster shell calcium during egg laying seasons.
Here are some prices for 3 similar 50 pound bags of prepared foods (some shipped):
Organic Layer Pellet Feed 50 pounds (commen online source) 50 pound bag $90.65 shipped ($498.57 for equivalent weight <275 lb> in food and protein to my mix, saving $433.57)
High Quality 50 pounds Layer Feed (commen online source) 50 pound bag $45.53 shipped ($250.41 for equivalent weight <275 lb> in food and protein to my mix, saving $185.41)
My Local Farm supply charges $19.50 for a 50 pound bag of layer food. ($107.25 for equivalent weight <275 lb> in food and protein to my mix, saving $42.25 )
I pay $65 dollers for 275 pounds of scratch, oats, wheat, corn, and 1/2 of a bag of BOSS every 3 weeks.
My birds receive nearly all my scraps. This means they get protein sources and grease from dinner and cooking, plus the bits and pieces from food prep, such as veggie tops and bad spots, broccoli stems, well crumbled egg shells (don't keep it looking too much like a whole egg, or they will start eating their eggs), and watermelon rinds. Anything organic and not fully rotten yet. The leftovers out of the fridge on day seven, the whey I have left from making cheese, the orange juice left in cups, fruit going bad, leftover breakfast cereals and other items of this nature all go into a snack pan, and all of the birds fight over them! These treats provide trace vitamins and minerals, as well as ever changing variety, to keep everyone healthy and happy. They also have no objections to small samples of cat and dog food, oatmeal infested with moths, and burned entrees, popcorn, or pizza crusts. Even that milk going bad is OK for them. You've already paid for this food, so if its not good enough for our cultured palates, its still a tasty treat for birds.
AVOID THESE ITEMS FOR POULTRY
Excess salt - potentially toxic
Green potato skin - potentially toxic
Avocado - potentially toxic
bones small enough to choke on - potentially deadly
any raw or rotting meat - potentially toxic
In season, I also introduce grass clippings, garden weeds, unwelcome seeding plants, and small tree seeds and fruits that we won't eat. What they don't eat attracts insects that they do appreciate. I also find that newspapers and unbleached boxes left in a corner give them something to dig through and under for additional creeping crawling protein. I don't have to love the looks of it, for the birds to appreciate the benefits. Remember poultry can enjoy and benefit from scraps and snacks, but they should not make up more than 15-20% of poultry diets.
watermelon rind, orange peppers, cabbage, and some peanuts for the snack box- very welcome in winter!
geese, turkeys, and ducks snacking on this mornings treats - chickens snacks are inside their hen house
When I changed over from premium prepared foods to whole grains and leftovers and compost-able items, I immediately cut 45% off my next grain bill. If you pay $100 per month now, you may start save $45 or more next visit. The birds are even sleeker and healthier than before, and we put more money in the bank for other uses.
I do not find mixing my grain to be much more work than before. The birds are happy, and I'm happy. This is what I call a win/win endeavor!