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Doing some research on feeding habits of chickens - Please help me!

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by WillK, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. WillK

    WillK Just Hatched

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    Nov 5, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    I've been lurking Backyard Chickens for a few weeks now while researching for a final year undergraduate project I am undertaking over the next 10 months.

    If anyone is interested in what I'm doing, I'd love to create a thread here keeping my progress up to date. I'm currently focusing on enabling smaller homes to grow a sustainable food source for chickens. I know this is an area that is popular here, so I hope that this post doesn't seem like spam, and that many of you will find this area as interesting as I do!


    To help me through the industrial design process I've put together a short questionnaire to help me gather information about demographics, market size, current habits etc..

    If any of you have a spare two minutes to run through this, it would really help me out, and I'd love to ask you guys some more questions if you'll have me here!

    You can find the questionnaire here: https://will340.typeform.com/to/pAcNGg

    Thanks
    Will
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    Okay, first of all, your avatar is awesome!

    Second, chickens have unfortunalty complicated dietary needs. At least they are complicated for the average person. Growing all of a chickens food would need a decent amount of space, depending on what you were growing and how you planned on feeding it to them.
    For example, you can raise mealworms, but you could either raise a huge batch all at once, dry them out and feed the flock for a long period of time, or you could raise smaller batches throughout the year and feed them fresh and alive. The mealworms would be the simplest thing to raise.

    Then there is the question offeeding seeds or plants. Raising your own seeds would probably require alot of land; such as in scenario #1. If you figured out which plants would meet all the nutrition requirments a chicken needs, then (depending on the plants and if they needed to be raised to maturity or not) they could be raised in a greenhouse in pans of dirt or deeper pots.

    I haven't thought much about growing all of my chickens food, but I hope this helps!
     
  3. WillK

    WillK Just Hatched

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    Hey, thanks for the response!

    Yep, it seems like the dietary needs are something that can't be recreated, my focus will be on providing a sustainable source of protein as opposed to soybean or fishmeal sources. The idea is to persuade people to use local feed (grain + veg) along with this protein source to reduce the environmental footprint as much as possible.

    I'm looking at BSFL or Mealworm to create an accessible protein production system for hobbyist chicken owners but I fear that BSFL will be too inconsistent in terms of yield when farming in colder climates (UK, EU etc..) as encouraging BSFL to breed in non-natural habitats is difficult - I'll be spending a lot of time over on the insect farming threads to get an insight into insect farming!

    Will
     
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I raise meal worms but also red wigglers in a composting bin. The live nutritional value is far greater than dried. And the Darkling beetles that meal worms come from area also nutritious.

    Sprouting is one of my favorite ways to supplement my chicken feed. Somehow it raises the protein and other nutrient value over just the seeds. Sprouted barley is great and can be done indoors. And peas are a great source of protein, sprouted probably more so.

    Not sure if this helps, but best wishes!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  5. WillK

    WillK Just Hatched

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    Nov 5, 2016
    Thanks!

    Great news, I'm aware that most people on here seem to be farming mealworm due to the ease of farming them and giving them as additional treats rather than replacing some of their daily feed 'allowance'. What is your current aim with raising mealworm/red wigglers?

    Thanks for the information regarding sprouting, i'll be sure to take a look.

    Will
     
  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Some data differences between sprouted and unsprouted barley. I say barley because it is the easiest to sprout with the least amount of issues. So that is where I started. [​IMG]

    http://www.idosi.org/wasj/wasj16(4)12/9.pdf
     
  8. WillK

    WillK Just Hatched

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    Nov 5, 2016
    Great! Thanks, lots more information keeps popping up.
    Do you think you'll continue to grow red wigglers as opposed to other insects?
    Assuming the wigglers support the entirety of the chickens protein requirements now, how do you feed them and how does this differ to when their protein source came from feed?
    Are the worms measured out to be fed? I've read some reports that chickens will manage their protein intake on their own, however other sources state that as chickens love mealworm so much they also just can't help themselves sometimes.. Interesting stuff

    Will
     
  9. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    I can't imagine a chicken putting itself on a "diet". If there's mealworms, there won't be for long. The only thing I can imagine a chicken measureing out for itself is oyster shell; not quite as tasty as mealworms [​IMG]. I think they would have to be measured out for them, and then there's the problem of pecking order; some chickens won't get as much. This is a really mind engaging subject! [​IMG]
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    My chickens aren't too interested in the red wigglers right now. So I will have to keep offering them. It's been suggested that they would enjoy them more at a specific time of year like spring. In the same way early spring when humming birds have babies they catch flies under my porch to feed them. While the rest of the year their diet consist of nectar. I was shocked the first time I saw hummers catching flies and had to research because it went against everything I knew.

    My chickens don't eat every bug they come in contact with. We are in the PNW and there are tons of greens and bugs. But in no way do I believe they would self regulate meal worms. That's like chicken crack cocaine!

    Since my chickens free range, I feed them free choice commercial flock raiser with 20% protein. I also ferment it which increases the nutritional value and digestion/absorption. Check the link in my signature line.

    I used to volunteer at a zoo rehab. It is important that animals in captivity get the right nutrients. For people who don't free range they would need to be more exacting on their values.

    I don't think I want to go full on trying to make their diet. I have 48 mixed age and gender chickens. And there is definitely the pecking order issue. So I have plenty of feed stations for the grain and I spread the sprouted barley and other stuff to different areas of the property to help combat the pecking order from keeping anyone from getting some of the good stuff.

    The reason I got live meal worm is the nutritional value is much higher than dried. And financially it was just more feasible to raise them since it's fairly simple after you get past the [​IMG] factor. I've been told by a hubby's co worker that feeding to many meal worms made their eggs taste off. Which made me a little paranoid since I have no control over how many bugs my chickens eat when they are on pasture. But meh.... I haven't experienced any off flavor. I feed out all life stages, but only as treats at this point.

    I will continue with the red wigglers until I get to try them in a different season. My previous flock loved them, but we had way less bugs in the dessert than we do now. And the only other insect I plan to grow at this point is the meal worm life stages. But hey, I learn something new every day and who knows what the future holds?! [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.

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