Hi all - I've been asked by a couple people to share a feed mix I've been making up for the hens & guinea fowl this winter. They are laying very well on it and appear healthy. Until I cull members of the flock in a couple years and see their insides, I won't know for sure if this feed mix is both productive (plenty of eggs) and healthy for them. Usually the liver is a good gauge for how healthy your feed is for your chickens, IMO. I do not have a grinder, so this is a whole grain mix. I also do not use wheat because of sensitivities, but that could be something you could incorporate as well. I'd like to hear how others do on this mix by using it different ways - maybe sprouting some, soaking some, using some dry for scratch. I'm feeding about 1/4# per bird per day dry right now, but I understand this mixture could be stretched out by trying some of these methods. There is a spreadsheet I use, the formulas for which are in the back of Harvey Ussery's book the Small Scale Poultry Flock, to monitor my cost and protein %. I know protein isn't everything, but I've read in a few places that as long as your mix is diverse (several sources), shooting for the correct crude protein % & using a mineral supplement will balance out those other factors. Free ranging when appropriate will help, too, of course. In central MN, we have to either pay for large quantities of no-soy organic feed to be delivered every month or two months, or drive several (like 40) miles to pick it up, unless we want to pay the high price of Scratch n Peck through Azure. So this is a compromise feed for others who may have trouble with the expense of providing a quality feed with no soy, corn or alfalfa (the main GM feed sources in our area) or budget minded folks who are looking for a conventional non-GMO option. Buying these grains/seeds from my local feed mill in 50# bags and mixing/stirring together my self in a large plastic trash bin, I am spending about $19.50 per 50# on this using my local mill's current prices, including everything but the supplemental crushed red pepper that I add in the winter and of course grit. I may be able to get a better price per bag by giving this recipe to my local feed mill guy and buying a ton at a time, but a) I cannot store that much here and b) I am changing the recipe in small increments to see if I can realize some cost savings or increased convenience in feeding. When I have a recipe I'm happy with, I will probably have him do it for me. A couple other people have said they'd go in on it with me, and I know the local mill is looking for a recipe like this. They are on their second or third attempt at providing a conventional 99% non-GMO feed, but there have been hens who stopped laying & growers who stopped growing (separate formulas, of course) on their other attempts. For comparison, locally people are paying $26-30 per 50# bag of organic no-soy after delivery, and we have to supplement a lot because the protein content is lower than standard soy-based feeds. I mix a double batch of this (one on top of the other) once every 1.5-2 weeks. I mix as well as I can, but some days the feed's a little more "white" and some days a little more "black", but they eat it all up anyway. I find it to be pleasant work, but if I got 2-3 more trash bins, it would make life easier as I could go a month or two without mixing and currently I have to store partially used bags of everything on an old buffet table my church was getting rid of. This recipe is for a single batch, the crude protein is 18%: Mix together: 5# whole feed oats 5# barley 10# millet 25# black oil sunflower seed (in the shell) Measure out the following separately: 5# whole flax 0.5# brewer's yeast 2.5# poultry mineral premix for layers (my feed mill sells this in 50# bags - it goes a long way! And it gives the correct proportions to use for 1-ton batches, so the math is tricky on a small scale but just get your calculator out - you can do it!) Okay, it's actually 53# batches. Provide free choice: Shell grit Rock grit (very important, as this is a whole grain/seed mix) Sprinkle on, if desired or as needed: Crushed red pepper The reason for all the separating is I don't have a professional mixer and plus the chickens were leaving all the powdered stuff behind in the trough. I tried wetting the whole thing, but it would freeze (of course!). The whole flax is not digestible unless sprouted, soaked or ground. So what I do now is take HALF the day's ration of the other mixed feed out of the big bin and put that in the chicken trough. On top of that, while in the coop, I scoop/pour/sorta sprinkle the WHOLE day's ration of flax, brewer's yeast and poultry mineral premix which I have measured out & soaked for a little while that morning or the night before. They eat the top stuff first and the rest of the feed does not freeze this way. Zero waste, also a good thing. There is a lot of math for figuring out how much of each of these little amounts to break up and give everyday, but you only need to do it once, really. If you change the recipe of the large mixture, the small amounts will still remain the same per 50#. If you can freshly grind your flax, do so and then add it to the big trash bin on mixing day. I cannot freshly grind mine & flax goes rancid very quickly once ground, so I am wary of buying it ground. This is harmful and creates free radicals in the body, so I putz around with soaking for now. I HAVE checked droppings (fun!), and there are no whole flax seeds coming out undigested. I would still sprinkle the day's ration of powdered supplements on top, or maybe make a paste & apply to the top. The SECOND 1/2 of the day's ration goes out at about 3pm here in MN in winter. I throw it on the ground dry, like scratch, any place where the bedding looks like it needs mixing especially. This allows me to shut my chicken door before dusk and warms their bodies up for the cold night ahead. You could do 2/3 in the morning and 1/3 in the evening, or all at once, or any variation. This is just what I've found works for me. Well, happy mixing people! If you find the feed is going much farther with soaking & sprouting some, maybe the a.m. portion, please share what you've done and the proportions you are using for each hen. This recipe calls for 1/4# per hen per day, plus the correct amount of powdered stuff & flax each day. I am currently adjusting this by adding some sunflower "chips" and reducing the flax & millet, and increasing the barley & oats a little, but I don't know that I can truly judge if a feed is good for laying until about 3-4 weeks have gone by and numbers still look good. No chick recipe yet. I don't have a grinder, but I may try raising a batch of chicks in two groups - one with my normal chick feed and one with a soaked small grain/seed ration with the appropriate mineral mix (not the one for layers). This way, I would be able to see any differences in growth/nutrient absorption and quickly switch the experimental group onto the normal ration if things go awry. If and when I wind up having the local mill produce this recipe (or a modification) on a large scale, I will post a comment to that effect. Do you have a recipe you'd like to share? Please post it here so others can learn from your experiences as well.