Chicken/duck food

Nlutfi

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2020
14
15
36
We are looking for some recommendations on a good organic food for our mixed laying flock. We have 3 female buff ducks that are around a year and half old that all lay and 3 female chickens (1 buff and 2 barred rocks) that are around 5 months old that just started laying. We currently have been using Purina layena but are looking for a organic option that is good for the whole group. Along with food are they any supplements/vitamins that are recommend as well? We live in WI so deal with cold weather if that has any factor in it. On a side note what is chicken scratch and do we also need that for the chickens? Thanks!


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U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,234
15,832
626
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
No, you don't need Scratch. Scratch works against a nutritionally complete feed. Its useful for training purposes, if that's your desire, or to encourage them to scratch up a particular section of soil (like hardpan/clay), but honestly, you can throw regular feed and likely encourage the same behaviors. Its completely unneeded.

Nutrena has both a non GMO "Natural" (Nature-Wise) line and an Organic line. The Nature wise is relatively easy to find, the Organic, less so. Both are good feeds. Purina ALSO has an Organic line now, though I've not seen it.

A number of posters use the Kalmach Organics, which are mostly whole grain as well. Best results come of feeding it as wet mash, fermented feed, or even sprouted so your birds dont pick out favorites and leave the rest to birds lower in the pecking order, contributing to nutritional imbalance. That's not specific to Kalmbach, its the case with any whole grain feed.

What you are looking for is a high niacin feed, 18-20% protein, calcium about 1-1.5% (offer oyster shell free choice on the side, grit on the side), fat in the 3% - 4.5% range feed. Likely sold as a"All Flock" "Flock Raiser" or similar. MOST feeds don't disclose niacin levels - ducks need far more than chickens, but the "extra" niacin isn't harmful to your chickens. You may have to contact specific manufacturers for their levels. Prior posters have inquired of Purina and Nutrena, both had adequate for ducks levels of niacin in their flock raiser/all flock formulations when the question was put to them.

You should also be aware that its VERY hard to hit desired levels of a limiting amino acid, methionine, in organic feeds. A small amount of synthetic methionine (dl-) can be added and still maintain the "organic" designation. No soy formulations have even greater difficulty reaching targets, and vegan formulations find it near impossible.

In older, developed birds, its less important. 0.3% - 0.35% is considered adequate for both breeds. In juveniles and hatchlings, demending on age, breed, etc, levels up to 0.6% are recommended in the literature. You simply won't find those in organic feeds - and birds raised on lower (0.35%) levels will likely appear healthy, but will never reach their full potential. Its a key component to early muscle development, and needed in connective tissues throughout the bird.

Seeing organic fish meal, or organic porcine blood meal on the ingredients label, is very reassuring. If you get the choicebetween two organic feeds, and the first ingredient in one is wheat, soy, or alfalfa, and the first ingredient in the other is peas - pick the one that isn't peas. The reasons would require a much longer post.

Finally, you may find success with local mills in terms of both price and freshness. I'm in FL, so no personal experience, but this group is out of Cashton, WI claiming Organic feed. Unfortunately soy-free (I warned you), but using fish and crab meal. I can't get an actual ingredients list to load or a certified nutrition label (BAD internet connection on my cell phone), so I am NOT recommending. Just suggesting you may have options outside of the national brands.

Oh, re: protein. Don't go over 24% for ducks, particularly young ducks, or you significiantly increase your chances they develop angel wing. and there's no benefit to feeding chickens over 20% after 4-5 months, which is just fine for ducks of all ages - even then, the benefit is weight gain and early condition for table, a less important consideration in layers. Which is why I recommend the 18-20% for all your flock, all the time.
 

Nlutfi

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2020
14
15
36
No, you don't need Scratch. Scratch works against a nutritionally complete feed. Its useful for training purposes, if that's your desire, or to encourage them to scratch up a particular section of soil (like hardpan/clay), but honestly, you can throw regular feed and likely encourage the same behaviors. Its completely unneeded.

Nutrena has both a non GMO "Natural" (Nature-Wise) line and an Organic line. The Nature wise is relatively easy to find, the Organic, less so. Both are good feeds. Purina ALSO has an Organic line now, though I've not seen it.

A number of posters use the Kalmach Organics, which are mostly whole grain as well. Best results come of feeding it as wet mash, fermented feed, or even sprouted so your birds dont pick out favorites and leave the rest to birds lower in the pecking order, contributing to nutritional imbalance. That's not specific to Kalmbach, its the case with any whole grain feed.

What you are looking for is a high niacin feed, 18-20% protein, calcium about 1-1.5% (offer oyster shell free choice on the side, grit on the side), fat in the 3% - 4.5% range feed. Likely sold as a"All Flock" "Flock Raiser" or similar. MOST feeds don't disclose niacin levels - ducks need far more than chickens, but the "extra" niacin isn't harmful to your chickens. You may have to contact specific manufacturers for their levels. Prior posters have inquired of Purina and Nutrena, both had adequate for ducks levels of niacin in their flock raiser/all flock formulations when the question was put to them.

You should also be aware that its VERY hard to hit desired levels of a limiting amino acid, methionine, in organic feeds. A small amount of synthetic methionine (dl-) can be added and still maintain the "organic" designation. No soy formulations have even greater difficulty reaching targets, and vegan formulations find it near impossible.

In older, developed birds, its less important. 0.3% - 0.35% is considered adequate for both breeds. In juveniles and hatchlings, demending on age, breed, etc, levels up to 0.6% are recommended in the literature. You simply won't find those in organic feeds - and birds raised on lower (0.35%) levels will likely appear healthy, but will never reach their full potential. Its a key component to early muscle development, and needed in connective tissues throughout the bird.

Seeing organic fish meal, or organic porcine blood meal on the ingredients label, is very reassuring. If you get the choicebetween two organic feeds, and the first ingredient in one is wheat, soy, or alfalfa, and the first ingredient in the other is peas - pick the one that isn't peas. The reasons would require a much longer post.

Finally, you may find success with local mills in terms of both price and freshness. I'm in FL, so no personal experience, but this group is out of Cashton, WI claiming Organic feed. Unfortunately soy-free (I warned you), but using fish and crab meal. I can't get an actual ingredients list to load or a certified nutrition label (BAD internet connection on my cell phone), so I am NOT recommending. Just suggesting you may have options outside of the national brands.

Oh, re: protein. Don't go over 24% for ducks, particularly young ducks, or you significiantly increase your chances they develop angel wing. and there's no benefit to feeding chickens over 20% after 4-5 months, which is just fine for ducks of all ages - even then, the benefit is weight gain and early condition for table, a less important consideration in layers. Which is why I recommend the 18-20% for all your flock, all the time.
Wow thank you for all the information! That is super helpful! Our ducks and chickens are our pets so we want what's best for them to be healthy and for us eating their eggs. Would this be a good choice https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/nutrena-naturewise-all-flock-pellet-40-lb-bag
Not organic but I think you mentioned gmo free? Let me know of any other food brands to look in to as well. They all have free roam of our yard year round do they still need grit? We do offer oyster shells in a separate container. Thanks again!
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,234
15,832
626
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
You can see my flock in my Sig below. I used the Naturewise All Flock for most of the first six or eight months of the pandemic for all my birds, without complaint. I know more about flock nutrition now, and make different choices because I have different management practices, but would not recommend against the Nutrena All Flock - there may be better, but there is certainly much (and sometimes much much) worse.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,234
15,832
626
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Whether or not you need grit depends on the specifics of your land. I have clay sands and soils, no rock/grit naturally - but I live in Florida, which is essentially a sandbar. Your specifics likely differ.

Ultimately, it's cheap to make some available, even if it may not be needed - that just means it will be used very slowly. Buy a small bag, throw it in a bucket, monitor.
 

Nlutfi

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2020
14
15
36
You can see my flock in my Sig below. I used the Naturewise All Flock for most of the first six or eight months of the pandemic for all my birds, without complaint. I know more about flock nutrition now, and make different choices because I have different management practices, but would not recommend against the Nutrena All Flock - there may be better, but there is certainly much (and sometimes much much) worse.
Thanks again we may give it a try! Would you say it's an upgrade from the layena we are currently feeding? Can I ask what you feed? Also I don't see a sig below your posts. 🤷
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,234
15,832
626
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Thanks again we may give it a try! Would you say it's an upgrade from the layena we are currently feeding? Can I ask what you feed? Also I don't see a sig below your posts. 🤷
you must be on cell phone.

Laying has lower protein and much more calcium. I would say All Flock is an upgrade across the board, if offered with free choice oyster shell. The additional protein benefits them in overall condition generally, and molting specifically. You will also have (marginally - as in, under 3% improved typically) rates of lay and egg weights - but those differences are so small you need large flocks and great record keeping to prove them. It's not something clearly obvious.

By letting your birds select there own calcium intake (more important for the ducks, but also important for any non production layer being maintained in other than production management conditions) you help to avoid calcium build up (and damage) in the organs of your birds, which benefits their long term health.
 

Aunt Angus

Crossing the Road
Jul 16, 2018
6,683
17,171
832
Nevada County, CA
No, you don't need Scratch. Scratch works against a nutritionally complete feed. Its useful for training purposes, if that's your desire, or to encourage them to scratch up a particular section of soil (like hardpan/clay), but honestly, you can throw regular feed and likely encourage the same behaviors. Its completely unneeded.

Nutrena has both a non GMO "Natural" (Nature-Wise) line and an Organic line. The Nature wise is relatively easy to find, the Organic, less so. Both are good feeds. Purina ALSO has an Organic line now, though I've not seen it.

A number of posters use the Kalmach Organics, which are mostly whole grain as well. Best results come of feeding it as wet mash, fermented feed, or even sprouted so your birds dont pick out favorites and leave the rest to birds lower in the pecking order, contributing to nutritional imbalance. That's not specific to Kalmbach, its the case with any whole grain feed.

What you are looking for is a high niacin feed, 18-20% protein, calcium about 1-1.5% (offer oyster shell free choice on the side, grit on the side), fat in the 3% - 4.5% range feed. Likely sold as a"All Flock" "Flock Raiser" or similar. MOST feeds don't disclose niacin levels - ducks need far more than chickens, but the "extra" niacin isn't harmful to your chickens. You may have to contact specific manufacturers for their levels. Prior posters have inquired of Purina and Nutrena, both had adequate for ducks levels of niacin in their flock raiser/all flock formulations when the question was put to them.

You should also be aware that its VERY hard to hit desired levels of a limiting amino acid, methionine, in organic feeds. A small amount of synthetic methionine (dl-) can be added and still maintain the "organic" designation. No soy formulations have even greater difficulty reaching targets, and vegan formulations find it near impossible.

In older, developed birds, its less important. 0.3% - 0.35% is considered adequate for both breeds. In juveniles and hatchlings, demending on age, breed, etc, levels up to 0.6% are recommended in the literature. You simply won't find those in organic feeds - and birds raised on lower (0.35%) levels will likely appear healthy, but will never reach their full potential. Its a key component to early muscle development, and needed in connective tissues throughout the bird.

Seeing organic fish meal, or organic porcine blood meal on the ingredients label, is very reassuring. If you get the choicebetween two organic feeds, and the first ingredient in one is wheat, soy, or alfalfa, and the first ingredient in the other is peas - pick the one that isn't peas. The reasons would require a much longer post.

Finally, you may find success with local mills in terms of both price and freshness. I'm in FL, so no personal experience, but this group is out of Cashton, WI claiming Organic feed. Unfortunately soy-free (I warned you), but using fish and crab meal. I can't get an actual ingredients list to load or a certified nutrition label (BAD internet connection on my cell phone), so I am NOT recommending. Just suggesting you may have options outside of the national brands.

Oh, re: protein. Don't go over 24% for ducks, particularly young ducks, or you significiantly increase your chances they develop angel wing. and there's no benefit to feeding chickens over 20% after 4-5 months, which is just fine for ducks of all ages - even then, the benefit is weight gain and early condition for table, a less important consideration in layers. Which is why I recommend the 18-20% for all your flock, all the time.
This is such a good post. I can't even.
 

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