Bushels of grain per chicken?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jasmer, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey, looking into growing my own chicken feed and was wondering how many bushes per chicken of grain to grow. I've got a wheat plot planned and will probably grow amaranth, millet, and/or quinoa, but I only have 1+/- acre to work with (the rest is garden, pasture, and house+yard). Chickens will be pastured while snow is off the ground and can probably forage most of what they need themselves save a couple handfuls of grains a day, right? We want to keep about 10 or so layers/breeders and raise 30-50 freedom ranger chicks each year on pasture and butcher at 12 weeks.

    How many bushels of grain will 10 chickens go through in a year? Roughly how many bushes of grain will pastured chickens require during the spring, summer, and fall? Roughly how many bushels of wheat, amaranth, quinoa, or millet? Is corn a suitable grain source for chickens? Any advice on how much and what grain to grow for chickens with optimal yield per acre for a small homestead to reduce as much as possible reliance on purchased grains?

    Sorry for all the questions, we've got the opportunity to get an entire homestead/farm set up by the end of next summer and I just realized we probably don't have enough room to grow all our wheat and reseeding AND grain for chickens. I'm also just ridiculously excited about getting this going. :)
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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  3. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, thanks for all the info guys! I think I'm well on my way toward formulating a home-mixed, balanced diet. Best part is I can do it mostly out of pasture and the garden. :)
     
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The average large breed hen eats about 1/4 pound (4 ounces) of feed per day.

    You can feed corn to chickens. I was reading that you can harvest field corn and shuck it, and then store the corn on the cob. Then just throw the cobs to the chickens, and the chickens will eat the corn off the cob. That makes it easier on you. I think there is less processing involved with corn than there would be with wheat, which you will have to cut, thresh and winnow.

    If you allow your chickens to free range, then there is a good chance they are getting most of the nutrients they need. You will also want to give them feed, and give the egg-layers oyster shell so they have plenty of calcium. You can also crush up your egg shells and feed them back to the egg-layers for calcium.

    There is debate about this. Some say to cook the egg shells before feeding them to the hens so that the hens do not get a taste for their own eggs in the nest. You can just put the crushed egg shells in a microwave oven for a minute.
     
  5. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Corn is definitely a possibility. I might try amaranth or quinoa too. Found out I can grow wheat and clover on the same field so that opens up potentially half of that acre to amaranth, quinoa, and corn too. Might experiment with adding oats to the pasture too.

    I've been feeding egg shells to the hens for a while now, crushed into small bits, nobody's gotten a taste for egg yet. I'll look into other calcium-rich foods I can grow to supplement. Maybe bone meal?
     
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am sure bone meal would provide calcium. I had to look up amaranth and quinoa, because I was not familiar with them. I see that amaranth has calcium. Quinoa probably does also.

    I also see that the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa." So now you have to plant quinoa. :)

    It should be fun to experiment and see what works best for you. Are you raising other animals? Pigs, cows, goats, sheep, etc. can also eat the corn stalks and leaves, so there is an added benefit of corn. If you ground up the stalks and leaves, you could also feed that to chickens.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  7. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We want to raise something like 2-4 goats (depends on what size/breed we settle on) and 2 sheep. We'll also raise one pig, some meat rabbits, a turkey or two, and some ducks. We don't have enough room for a cow unless we work out a grazing deal with one of our neighbors (which we are probably going to do). We want to keep about 5 layers and 5 meat hens + roo for breeding our own flock and over the spring, summer, and fall, hatch out and raise up to 50 birds to 12 weeks and butcher. Gonna experiment with Freedom Ranger and selective breeding to see if we can stabilize a reasonably consistent line because I have too much time on my hands. :) I'm also going to do the same with hybrid vegetables in my garden lol.

    With a greenhouse and vertical gardening we should have plenty of garden produce for us and leftovers for the animals. Large animals should be butchered by winter, and we can always purchase hay if we have to winter them, and can also grind it up into chicken pellets. I'm just hoping to feed everyone almost entirely (or completely entirely) on what we can produce ourselves. I get mixed answers on how much wheat we'll have to grow just for our own flour and reseeding needs, I hear anywhere from 1/4 to 1 acre for a family of four so we'll see just how much room I have on that particular acre to play around in a couple years. I could use one for winter wheat and one for spring wheat and during the off season graze those fields as well since they'll be full of ladino and red clover.

    So many ideas!
     
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    A bushel is supposed to be a measure of volume not weight so we immediately run into a problem because a bushel unlike a pint or a pound is not the same the world around.

    There are 60 pounds in a bushel of soybeans or wheat.
    56 pounds equals a bushel of corn or grain sorghum
    48 pounds are in a bushel of barley,
    and 32 pounds is a bushel of oats.
    Furthermore a 75 pound bushel of un-shelled corn is in no way a measure of volume but instead it is supposed to shell out to 56 pounds @ 11-13% moisture content.


    Chickens average eating about 3 to 5 ounces of food daily. Split the difference and call it 4 ounces. Therefore theoretically a bushel of wheat will feed one chicken for approximately 240 days or about 8 months. 365 days minus 240 days = 125 additional days to finish out a year, so it would require about 1 & ½ bushels of wheat in theory to feed one chicken for one year and 10 chickens would eat 15 bushels or 900 pounds of wheat. This is anywhere from ¼ to ½ an acre and up, depending on your success as a feed grain farmer.

    The problem is that chickens generally hate whole soybeans or dry beans and peas of any kind. They'll eat it OK but are somewhat indifferent to wheat and grain sorghum, however chickens dearly love shelled corn, barley, and oats and they will eat de-fated soybean meal in pellet form..... By adding 5% by volume Calf Manna, and or 5% by volume small bite dog or cat food and by adding about 20% by weight of hog chow in the 30% protein range then finishing out your chickens ration with lay pellets, plus the grains we've discussed, and maybe some all grain sweet horse feed during the winter, you end up with a decent chicken feed.

    The good news about quinoa is that you won't need a $400,000 combine to harvest quinoa, a pair of barbers scissors seems to work just fine. Also to remove quinoa's extremely bitter seed coating you'll only need to drive your goats or cow around and around in circles on the threshing floor all day long and their hooves will do the work for you. That only leaves you to remove the very tiny quinoa seed hulls from the finished grain. You can expect a quinoa yield of about 750 to 1,000 pounds per acre. Because quinoa is 65 pounds per bushel you will be looking at a starting yield of from 11 to 15 bushels per acre.

    http://tetonvalleynews.net/news/val...cle_00eb5a50-1313-11e2-bbf0-001a4bcf887a.html

    Since I don't know how well you or your family likes biscuits and gravy I am therefore unable to predict your family's flour consumption. Good luck and keep us posted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
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  9. jasmer

    jasmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm. If they aren't terribly crazy about wheat then maybe I'll just grow enough for us and use the rest of the available area for corn. I've read you can throw some quinoa into a sock or something and toss it into a cold water laundry cycle (no soap) or something like that to rinse the icky coating off. One of the above links also provided a "recipe" for chicken feed that I've slightly tweaked with what I believe we can realistically grow on our property and should serve as a supplement for pastured birds, and if we have to buy some additional food or grain that's probably not a big deal.

    GENERAL FORMULAS FOR HOME MIXING, lbs per 100 lbs of feed:
    Coarse ground grain (Corn, oats, wheat, amaranth, quinoa).

    1. Starter: 46 lbs
    2. Grower: 50
    3. Layer 53.5
    Wheat bran and other grain by-product
    1. Starter: 10 lbs
    2. Grower: 18
    3. Layer: 17
    Sunflower meal
    1. Starter: 29.5
    2. Grower: 16.5
    3. Layer: 15
    Meat meal (heat-treated amaranth may be used in place?)
    1. Starter: 5 lbs
    2. Grower: 5 lbs
    3. Layer: 3 lbs
    Alfalfa (May be omitted if fresh pasture or pasture silage is available)
    1. Starter: 4 lbs
    2. Grower: 4 lbs
    3. Layer: 4 lbs
    Yeast, milk (dried)
    1. Starter: 2 lbs
    2. Grower: 2 lbs
    3. Layer: 2 lbs
    Grit (oyster shells, ground stone, tiny gravel)
    1. Starter: 1 lb
    2. Grower: 2 lbs
    3. Layer: 3 lbs
    Vitamin A can be supplemented by the following: Cantaloupe, Cherries, Honeydew, Plums, Watermelon, Beet Greens, Broccoli, Carrots, Dandelion Greens, Peas, Pumpkin, Winter Squash, Tomato

    Vitamin D can be supplemented by the following: Fish, Eggs, Pork, Beef Liver, Goat Cheese

    Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) can be supplemented by the following: Dandelion Greens, Beef Liver, Wheat Bran, Fish, Grains

    Trace Minerals can be supplemented by the following: Dandelion (leaves and roots), Alfalfa, Pumpkin Seeds, Wheat Germ, Wheat Bran, Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Celery, Carrots

    I'm reasonably sure that I can establish a diverse pasture, some tasty shrubby things like berries, and sprouted greens in the winter. I don't know if we can go totally self sufficient in regards to the birds, but we can definitely get close to it if this 'recipe' looks about right.

    As for my family, the vast majority of our flour consumption is bread. Sometimes I make biscuits or bake something else, but I'd say that 90% of our flour consumption is for bread.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013

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