Any new info on making own chicken food

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by lovelychicken, May 12, 2009.

  1. lovelychicken

    lovelychicken Songster

    May 9, 2009
    Anyone have any info on how they do their own chicken food? I make my own dog food, it costs less and is far better of quality. So who knows how to do this with chickens? Ive seen a few places but would like to know some people out there that have done this with good outcomes. What, how often, measurements for small flock, etc? Any info???

  2. tackyrama

    tackyrama Songster

    Aug 14, 2008
    Central Minnesota USA
    I have an expanding patch of forage Comfrey. It is the Bocking strain for forage to animals. It is not invasive like some other strains but propigates easily from root cuttings. I have used it for rabbits and chicks. They like it and do very well on it.

    I'm, sure someone is going to jump in here and rant about how bad this stuff is. I admit it is controversial. The bocking strain was developed especially for livestock. It has the second highest protein content next to alfalfa. There are advantages and disadvantages to it. Some of the advantages are:

    Easy to grow - 4 to 5 or more harvests a year
    perrienial - Once started will grow for many years without help
    No cultivation needed, it shades out other weeds
    Bees love the flowers for honey.
    Plantings can sometimes be harvested the secong year.
    Nice looking ground cover.
    great to add to compost
    large acreage not needed.
    any type of livestock will eat and benefit from it.
    These are some I can come up with off the top.

    Some disadvantages:

    High moisture content, needs 2 or more days for drying.
    somewhat hairy, Some animals need to be started at a young age or won't eat it.
    There have been warnings about consuming comfrey but what hasn't been warned about. Like most warnings you might have to eat a bushel a day to get harmful effects. Also I am talking about a forage strain developed for animals and used for many years in parts of Europe.

    I chop it fresh for the chicks. I chop the dried leaves and stems to mix in with the chicken's winter food.
  3. Old MacDanny

    Old MacDanny In the Brooder

    May 12, 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Just keep in mind that your chickens nutrition requirements are much more critical than your dogs. Especially if they are laying eggs. Any change in feed should be done in an experimental fashion and closely monitored. You may want to offer them grains, greens, protein, calcium, minerals, and grit in some type of a free choice fashion and let them find the correct proportions.

    However, if you do this I would recommend you keep the commercial feed available and reduce it slowly rather than trying to change abruptly.

    grains - cracked corn is hard to beat for convenience and price but whole fresh living grains are even better if you can grow some.

    greens - grass, weeds, vegetable parings

    protein - this is the most essential and most costly component, most feeds use soybean meal as it is the cheapest protein source available. It is impossible to make your own soybean meal but you can soak and boil soybeans like you would other beans to make it palatable for the birds. However, you would have to do this every few days because you can't dry store the mash like the beans or meal. Other sources of protein would be fish, bugs, worms, etc... I used to use a net to get minnows and crawdads for fish bait and I plan to get some for my birds that way soon.
    You can also grow protein; peas, spinach, brussel sprouts. I'm going to try some fresh peas later this summer.

    calcium - if you have layers of course. oyster shells, but I've heard of people substituting a limestone product ? I can't verify the limestone. Keep in mind if you are giving them a variety of greens that are high in calcium they may not touch the oyster shells. As long as their eggs don't get thin or soft it's okay.

    grit - my birds get what they need poking around but you can get some of the real fine stuff from a gravel drive or edge of a road and sprinkle it on their feed as well.

    other minerals - fresh leafy vegetables, grains, and sunlight have all your birds need. but in the winter this could be a problem if you are planning to totally make your feed. If you live near the ocean you can collect kelp. lay it on the driveway and let it dry and hang it on a nail where your birds can peck at it. Kelp has all the minerals your birds need in almost the exact proportions they need.
  4. tackyrama

    tackyrama Songster

    Aug 14, 2008
    Central Minnesota USA
    Old Mac had a lot of good info. If your chickens are free range like mine then they get a well rounded diet on their own including calcium for eggs but it wouldn't hurt to have calcium available for them. I have calcium available but they rarely eat any and their eggs are rich yellow with strong shells.
    Last edited: May 13, 2009

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