Custom feed ingredients anyone?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by frenchblackcopper, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. frenchblackcopper

    frenchblackcopper Songster

    Jul 14, 2009
    East central Illinois
    Okay,so like everyone else when the chicks gets bigger,so does the feed bill.I had been buying Hubbard Developer in 50 lb. bags at $15 each,so I took a drive the other day to a grain elevator that custom grinds feed to your specs.
    With our first killing frost expected this weekend here in Illinois,soon the cold weather will be here to stay.Most of our chicks are close to 2 months of age,and so I spoke to the salesman at the grain elevator about a 18% protein grower ration.
    Besides the 680 pounds of corn,and about 300 pounds of protein supplement to increase the protein level,this facility has all kinds of other "additives" to combine into feed rations for cattle,as well as hogs.
    I noticed alfalfa cubes,sunflower seeds,rolled oats,,ect as well as molasses and other interesting seperate bagged ingredients,including beet pulp.
    Money not being the object,whats the consensus of adding some of these other seeds-ingredients to the ground corn for feed? Alfalfa is loved by chickens,and if cubes are used in the ration,they can go thru the flail hammers and be chopped to shreds,as well as sunflower seeds.Molasses is used in cattle rations to get them to consume the feed,it adds sweetness to it.
    With our hatches all taking place in late summer,these chicks will not see any grass pens this year that have any green plants to eat,so if anyone has a special mix,or has their feedman add certain ingredients to their ration for the winter months,please advise?
  2. old fashioned

    old fashioned In the Brooder

    Sep 30, 2009
    Tacoma, Washington
    I don't know about the rest, but I have seen posts about molasses not being good for chickens. If I remember correctly, it is like a laxative to chickens and if used at all only a small amount if your chickens have a problem for medicinal purposes. I may very well be wrong (and usually am) about this, but atleast do more checking before using as feed ingredient.

    I'd like to know more about making my own feed also. But I live in the burbs and I think the nearest grain mill is in eastern wa. a good 150+ miles one way and I haven't found any whole grain around here yet or even a small amount of seeds to grow my own in my backyard garden. So far I've only seen feed and scratch and grains from the feed stores and I'm not sure if the few grains in the grocery stores are appropriate for chickens. Though I did put a bale of alfalfa hay in their pen as litter and I know they get some of that.

    Hopefully, someone will come along with more knowledge on this.
  3. PAJerry

    PAJerry Songster

    Mar 22, 2008
    Waterford, PA
    The only thing I have consistently added to my feed is kelp meal. It has a lot of micro-nutrients and has kept my flock very healthy. Flax seed might be good if you are trying for more omega-3 in the eggs.
  4. frenchblackcopper

    frenchblackcopper Songster

    Jul 14, 2009
    East central Illinois
    I know from the past experience raising hogs that rolled oats is used as a filler,,and I know horses love oats over corn,and have read here people feeding oatmeal to chickens,,but I do not think it has a high protein level.I am seriously considering having them add a 50 lb bag of cubed alfalfa,and run it thru the grinder to pulverize it.Sunflower seeds was also mentioned in another thread,and I can buy those whole from another tractor-farm supply store and have those ground and added to the ration.
    My cost for a 1000lb. batch of 18% developer ration was $170,,comparing that to the cost of $15 a 50lb ($300 per 1000 lbs)bag for Hubbard Developer Crumbles,it is within $20 of being 1/2 the price having my own mix custom ground,without adding anything extra to it. Anyone here who may be a feed nutrionalist please chime in,,with corn prices being somewhat lower now at harvest having a custom ration made to order is very feasible financially.
  5. i know you didn't say organic, but this is what i posted in another thread the other day. i'm not an expert but i have done a LOT of research. if you don't want to go organic, just substitute non-organic and everything should come out fine.

    i would avoid molasses, especially if you are feeding a lot of corn. molasses has tons of sugar and not much nutritional value. the sugar from that added with the fat from corn will probably just give you really fat birds, and not in the good-for-eating kind of way.

    i would also start with a wheat base instead of a corn base. most commercial feeds start with corn because it is cheaper, not because it is better nutritionally. if money really isn't a problem, wheat is the way to go.

    happy to see more and more people feeding organic! for the moment, i'm feeding organic chick starter from Countryside Naturals , but once the chicks go out to pasture, i'll be mixing my own. i've been doing a lot of research on it.

    some resources that i've found helpful:

    (disclaimer: i'm far from being an expert, so this is for informational purposes only. don't take my word for it!)

    The Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives website has been very informational. i don't live in Canada, but what holds true for them should be mostly true for me too... here's some of their articles that are good starting points: Organic Diets for Small Flocks, Poultry Rations and Feeding Methods, and Research on Feeding Peas to Poultry

    Small Poultry Flock Nutrition from University of Florida was a good overview.

    Evaluating Feed Components and Finished Feeds from Kansas State Uni: this was a bit technical for me, but there is a great table on page 2 that tells the protein level of various foods.

    This website has some good information, but what were most helpful for me were the Pearson's Square and Kim's Rectangle in section 2. these help me make sure, no matter what ingredients i choose to feed, that i'm maintaining the correct protein level for my chicks.

    also, some recipes, and most commercial feed, include soy. lots of people still think soy is wonderful, and it is really high in protein, but it's been linked to all kinds of health problems in people (if your birds eat it and you eat their eggs or meat, you eat it) such as hypothyroidism, cancer, and loss of estrogen production. i don't feed it to any of my animals. flaxseed is a great alternative, or even fish oil.

    i know that's a lot of information, but if you are like me, mixing your own food will be something you don't want to risk getting wrong. good luck!​
  6. i just noticed in your original post that you mentioned "300 lbs of protein supplements". what are these supplements? other grains or something else?
  7. frenchblackcopper

    frenchblackcopper Songster

    Jul 14, 2009
    East central Illinois
    The 300 lbs of supplements are added to the 680 pounds of corn to increase the protein level.Field corn only has a protein level of maybe 12%,,soybeans are heated and crushed to get the oil out of them,the left over is soybean meal and is around a 22% or higher level of protein. Soybean meal is added to the corn for adding higher levels of protein is all.If you were wanting a 22% protein ration,more soybean meal would be added,and the amount of corn would come down.There are trace minerals added in as well,but not much weight in that ingredient.
  8. like i said above, i would avoid soy.

    when i mix my own, i go for variety to ensure lots of different amino acid complexes. for 16% layer feed it's usually something like:

    6 parts* whole wheat
    3 parts cracked corn
    3 parts whole barley
    3 parts field peas
    2 parts flaxseed
    1 part dried kelp

    so, for 1000 lb batch you would have approximately:

    333 lbs wheat
    166 lbs corn
    166 lbs barley
    166 lbs peas
    111 lbs flax
    55 lbs kelp

    and then i have sunflower seeds, kitchen/garden scraps, apple sauce, and yogurt etc as treats to help keep up vitamins and minerals. my flock is pastured almost every day, so they get a lot of grasses and bugs on their own. i will probably add a little alfalfa in the midst of winter, though. maybe substitute 1 part alfalfa for 1 part barley.

    if you need to adjust the protein level, visit the last website i listed in my first post to find the Pearson's Square and Kim's Rectangle which will help you do that.

    *these aren't measured by volume, but by weight. that's important.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: