This is absolutely great!!! I can't wait to see and hear about your results!My Bresse started their four weeks of "finish" yesterday.
Since I've never done this before, and there is a relatively small amount of information available about how to do it, this is an experiment. I hope with a little common sense I can figure it out.
They are being given the following mixture every day:
- one pound of 28% crumble
- two pounds of a grain mixture that includes wheat, oats, corn, and 4 other ingredients that may change as I see how they react
- two pounds of whole milk
It is easy to prepare. We have an abundance of plastic empty coffee containers. The grains and crumble just fit into one of those with enough space left so I can shake it and mix it all nicely. Then the milk gets poured in and let to sit. The milk gets absorbed and I end up with a mixture that is easy to handle,and a fixed amount that can be easily adjusted depending on what they eat and how quickly. I can make up the containers of feed/grain all at one time and can add the milk in the morning, keeping it in the fridge until feeding time so the milk does not spoil.
The goal is a balanced diet that gives them enough protein to continue to build strong, healthy muscle and still enough carbohydrates to get the fat to permeate the muscle. Since chickens are lactose intolerant, I'm going to carefully monitor the milk intake and keep an eye on their poo. If they get diarrhea from the milk, the resulting dehydration could use up their carb intake and sabotage their fat build-up. They could also be very uncomfortable. I raise my own meat birds because I want the animals to be treated well, so I don't want them to be sick from the milk. I would prefer to have raw milk. But, raw milk is available here only if I buy a herdshare or keep my own cow/goat. Since this is an experiment, I did not want to do that just yet. So, I'm buying whole pasteurized milk and I'm just going to keep a close eye on them.
For four weeks of this mixture, the cost will be:
- $24 for the milk
- $10 for the crumble
- $18 for the grain mixture
For the 6 birds, it will cost $8.67/each to "finish" them.
This may change depending on how they react and if I need to alter the mixture or the amount. They consumed all of it quickly yesterday even though it seems like alot of food per bird. I'm going to make adjustments along the way. The birds average 4 pounds each as of yesterday. Almost all of them are right on the 4 pound mark. I'll keep track of their weight, particularly at the end.
I want to give them food in the morning and have it consumed before the milk goes bad. I'm mixing the milk with the grains so it does not just sit out in a container and either spoil, or attract bugs or other critters. Water, additional crumble and grit are available to them all the time. I give them some scratch grains throughout the day as they are in a pen because we have so many daytime predators. I can't let them free-range and they love to scratch and forage.
One of the boys posing for the camera.