feed formulations heritage breeds originally developed to perform on

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by centrarchid, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Has anyone seen diet formulations that used to be in use when some of the older heritage breeds were developed and prior to our understanding of the chicken's nutritional requirments? As I understand it, if you go back in time further than a 100 years or so, diets provided to poultry were little more than mixtures of grains and possibly added minerals (oyster shell or limestone). The mixes of those times promoted growth by supplementing natural forages but by themselves were not nutrtionally complete.

    Guessing here that such formulations might occur in older publications concerning poultry. It is of interest to me when animal proteins started showing up in the formulations.
  2. DaveK

    DaveK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2010
    My own guess would be that animal based proteins started showing up at some point after which many chickens, especially commercially kept birds, were being kept in some way that denied them the opportunity to forage for those same kinds of proteins.
  3. gallorojo

    gallorojo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2009
    I have some of my Grandfathers old poultry books. One from 1943 still figures on free range raising of everything, in movable colony houses. Battery cages mentioned, but so much talk of range rearing leads me to think that was still the norm at that date. Bagged feeds were available, but, seem to have been used in conjunction with farm grown whole corn, and range foraging. Hope that helps some.
  4. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009

    My method of feeding the chicks from the shell to the show room is as follows : After the chickens are hatched, I give them a rest for from 48 to 60 hours, before feeding them. For the next six weeks, they are fed three times a day on the following mixture of grains:

    Three parts wheat bran,
    Two parts wheat middlings,
    One part rice flour.
    Twelve parts of flaked or rolled oatmeal.
    Twenty-four parts of hominy.

    Never feed any meat or beef scraps of any kind for the first six weeks of feeding. For animal food, I use new milk, not skimmed, that has just come to a boil. The first week, use just enough hot milk to make the mash moist and crumbly. After the first week, use more milk, to make the feed a little more moist. Give them all they will eat in five minutes, taking away any that is left. If this system of feeding is followed very carefully for six weeks, the chickens will grow very rapidly. Their digestion will not be overtaxed and they will be able to stand a little heavier feed without poor results. For green food cut a piece of sod and put it in their coop. They will enjoy scratching it to pieces to get the grass and roots. For the next six weeks I feed them five times a day. Use the same mixture as before, only this time add to it a few mashed potatoes. These potatoes should be cooked in water which contains a little salt. You will find that by adding the boiled potatoes to the mash, it will be much relished by the
    chicks and it will make them grow much faster, which will pay you for the extra trouble of boiling them. Use this mash in the morning and evening. For the other three feeds use a scratch food, which is composed of wheat, cracked corn, and sprouted oats, which should be fed separately, not mixed together. As stated above, the first feed early in the morning should consist of mash, not all they will eat, but what is called a half-feed. Their next feed should be at nine o'clock, and should consist of wheat thrown in the litter, which will make them work to get it. This should also be a short feed.
    At noon, they should be fed oats, which have been sprouted in the following manner:

    Soak two quarts of oats in a pail of water for 24 hours.
    Add 40 drops of tincture of iron to each pail.
    Plant the oats in a warm sunny spot in a trench and cover with about three inches of dirt.

    You will find that in from three to five days you will have the best chick feed that it is possible to get and one that is much relished by the chicks.
    You not only get full value of the meat of the oats, but you get a great many tender roots and sprouts also. For their noon feed you should dig up some of the sprouted oats, dirt and all, and give them just as much as they will clean up. They will scratch and dig the sod to pieces and pick out every oat and root in it. You will find that the dirt which sticks to the roots of the oats is very good for the chicks, in fact, it keeps all the digestive organs in perfect working order. This way of sprouting oats is far ahead of any other method. If sprouting them in a box, which is the old method, you must be very careful that the box is clean and sweet, or the oats will sour and get slimy and will cause trouble by feeding. Their next feed should be at three o'clock. It should consist of cracked com thrown in the litter, and should never be more than they will clean up. At six o'clock they should be given mash the same as used in the morning, but instead of half a feed they should be fed all they can eat. Be sure to make their last feed the heaviest feed of the day, so that it will carry them through the night.


    I have now told my method of feeding up to twelve weeks of age.
    If you have followed this method very carefully you should have a flock of chickens that any man would be proud of, and a flock that has not been forced and whose digestive organs have never been overtaxed in any way. They should have made frame very fast and be uniform in size and a flock that is free from runts. After they are three months old I feed them a dry mash which consists of:

    Wheat bran three parts.
    Best grade beef scraps, one part.
    Wheat middlings, two parts.
    Hominy, twelve parts.
    Flaked oatmeal, twenty-four parts.

    I find that it is impossible to over-feed a growing chick for the next three months, so we must get all the gjrowth we can while the system will stand it. It took some time to find outhow long a growing chicken would stand forcing without doing it harm as a breeder, and at what age it would stand forcing best. This dry mash is kept before the growing chickens in hoppers, so that they can help themselves at any time. Be sure to place your hoppers where rain and sunshine cannot strike them. I use the Norwich Automatic Hoppers for my scratch feed, which consists of :

    Wheat, corn and oats, equal parts,
    one part wheat,
    one part cracked corn,
    one-half part best grade clipped oats,
    one-half part flaked or rolled oats, mixed thoroughly.

    These hoppers are placed in front of each brood coop. You will find that the chicks learn to work the hoppers in less than five minutes.
    Now take a heart shaped hoe and make a trench ten to twelve feet long and from three to five inches deep in front of each brood coop. This I fill about half full with soaked oats and cover up with dirt, mixing the dirt with the oats. After this is done lay a board over them so the chickens can't dig them out before they start to sprout. At the end of four days take the board off, and dig up one end of the trench so that some oats will show. After the chickens see the oats, they will start to eat them and will dig out every oat in the trench. They will leave almost any other feed for the oats. This is one of the best secrets I have in getting large frame on the birds I grow. There is no other method of feeding known that will give a growing chick more exercise than to dig the oats from these trenches, and it is exercise that they enjoy. We feed sprouted oats in this manner almost the year around, even in our cold climate here in the east where the seasons are short.
    There is no feed known that quite equals oats as a frame builder, and to keep a flock of chickens in good condition.
    By feeding the ground grains and scratch feeds in hoppers and the oats in trenches the labor of caring for a flock of growing chicks is reduced to a minimum. The only hand feeding we do is to feed two mash feeds a day, one in the middle of the forenoon, the other in the middle of the afternoon. For this wet mash use the same mixture of grains used for the dry mash only omit the beef scraps. Give bone meal in its place. You can now cut out the milk used in mixing the mash for the first twelve weeks, and substitute fresh ground liver and water in its place, which you will find much cheaper and better. To prepare this mixture take one quart of finely ground beef liver and mix with seven quarts of cold water, stir water and liver until you have it thoroughly mixed. Use this liquid to mix your mash.
    After you begin to feed this mash you can almost see them grow, and they will take on a plumage that is hard to beat in the show room. This is a secret worth knowing, as liver is
    far superior to milk for producing plumage on show birds of the highest quality. This mash should be fed quite wet, as they will eat more of it if fed this way. Growing chickens will eat less during the hot months of July and August than at any other time in the year, and if you are not careful their growth is apt to be checked during these months, as they will drink more than they eat and will not
    make frame as they should. We all know that if a growing chick gets a set back of any kind in the growing period, no matter from what cause, whether lice, worms, crowded quarters, filth or any other cause it never can win the blue in any large shows in hot competition. Therefore, I substitute the following for these two months:

    Half a pail of flaked oatmeal.
    Pour enough boiling water into this to fill the pail
    Put a cover on and leave it until it is cool.
    One quart of water to two quarts of cooked oatmeal water is given them to drink instead of clear water.

    You will also find this a good substitute for milk for growing chicks. A common milk pan makes the best thing I ever tried for the oatmeal water. They are cheap and easily kept clean, and as they are shallow can be put under almost anything to keep them out of the sun. Never leave the drinking pans in the sun, for oatmeal water will soon sour and be rank poison to growing chicks. By using
    oatmeal water in this way we don't have to worry if they don't eat as much as they should, as they are sure to drink more than usual during this hot spell, and the oatmeal in the water gives
    us an even growth during these two months. By not eating so much in these months the digestive organs seem rested when the nights and days get cooler and for the next six weeks they will eat twice as much as at any other time during the growing period, and this is where we should force them in any way we can. Be sure to have plenty of sprouted oats in the trenches, for the more we make them exercise the more food they will digest, and if their two mash feeds are quite moist they will eat much more than if it is crumbly. Put plenty of charcoal in this mash and you will never have any trouble from feeding it moist. Only five parts water to one part liver should now be used, as this will produce feather growth and put on a finish for the show room. Keep up this method of feeding them until ten days before the show. My method of conditioning for the show room you will find on another page. Now, my dear readers, I have given you my secrets of growing a bird from the shell to the show room in six months, and have given you a system that has not stood a defeat in twelve years, and I have also given you a system that has defeated the best known in England, Canada, Australia, and the United States, and here is my proof, the winnings of the last three shows in Madison Square Garden.

  5. joletabey

    joletabey SDWD!!!!

    Apr 9, 2009
    western NC
    "What and How to Feed Poultry" by D.E.Hale, also from 1915 has similar mixes, and tables various foods by their amount of protein, carbs and fat. Some of the foods in these tables include:
    mangel beets
    clover hay
    wheat bran
    unskimmed milk
    beef scraps
    sunflower seed
    sour milk
    Fresh green bone

    sprouting oats are also recommended, and for mash, combination of 9 pounds of corn meal, 6 pounds of wheat bran,3 pounds of alfalfa and 2 pounds of beef scraps.

    Dry mash recommended for chicks"
    2 pounds corn meal
    2 pounds bran
    2 pounds shorts (I have NO idea, don't ask me)
    2 pounds beef scraps or sour skim milk to drink
    1/2 pound charcoal.

    You can substitute blood meal for beef scraps, but only use 1/2 as much.

    There are a lot of other combinations in the book, those are just a few samples. I find the old poultry books to be fascinating.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The following exchange more clearly states why this thread was intiated. Information posted after intitiation is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    vmdanielsen wrote:
    I am interested in your comment about high end protein. I, too prefer that my buckeyes get their protein from vegetable sources. I do, however, feed them cooked hamburger 2X a week as I do not think they are getting enough protein up here in the frozen north. I have started to raise meal worms to supplement them. They are getting an organic layer pellet and mixed grains to fill their crops before roosting at night. Any suggestions that you could make as another high protein alternative would be appreciated.
    Thank you,


    My statement is as much a question as it is a comment. I am a trained animal nutritionist that is not satisfied with answers I have seen to date. Most folks keeping with chickens in the backyard setting are aware their charges are omnivorous but not aware that most early production efforts did not use animal protein in feeds and that flocks were almost without exception free ranged. We, and the birds, have been spoiled with formulations that are nutritionally complete (contain all nutrients needed in a single mixture) and based to varying degrees upon animal by-products. Our birds and our present rearing systems are very strongly influenced by the intensive production system we are trying to separate ourselves from since it is the intensive rearing systems that our poultry scientists and feed manufacturers have invested the greatest amount of effort in.

    My flocks are free ranged during production season so most of quality protein they receive is derived from foraging. The foraging pressure my birds put on landscape is in excess of what latter can sustainably support in terms of chicken production (eggs and growth). I am trying to supplement with intact grain formulation and raw minerals. At this point my suggestions are going to be little more than guess work and best answers will be a function of whether or not you free range and what your landscape produces. My goal is to identify; likely with aid of formulations developed in excess of 100 years ago and serving as a starting point; mixtures of grains / seeds forming scratches that supply nutrients my free range birds cannot extract sufficiently from their landscape.

    See thread initiated. https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=5503351#p5503351
    steps will be as voodoo following formulations proposed in part from thread above entitled "feed formulations heritage breeds originally developed to perform on". Science will then be invoked to find out what actual nutrients are in fact limiting from landscape free ranged and then target supplementation of those nutrients through the scratch formulations.

    I hope this is not too much B.S.. I have wanted to address this issue for years. I am interested in American Dominiques which does bias my approach.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Recently I started using feeds that contain no animal protein (fishmeal, bloodmeal, bonemeal etc.) as sole feed for confined dominiques and as a supplement for the free range birds. For confined birds, I might as well have stuck a plug up their egg holes because of the near complete stop of egg production. Free range birds largely quite eating the new feeds. Palitability (taste) is part of problem. They compensated by ranging farther. Battery egg producers might be able to handle such plant based diets just fine in part because they have been bred for it. Our heritage breeds of late have likely been babied a bit when receiving the easy to process, nutrient dense, with optimal nutrient profile feeds developed for meat birds and those producing high value hatching eggs.

    Another concern I have is with respect particulate size of complete feeds, whether it be mash, crumple or pellets. Waste can be real problem when birds scratching about and when humidity is high. Feed turns to mush which can be problem unless consumed immediately.

    Problem I am trying to address is with free range birds reared under conditions very similar to those used when all flocks were free ranged. Feeds in use then were made up of larger particulates, had little or now animal protein, and were effectively scratches. The lack of milling of some components may preserve nutrient quality (vitamins and fatty acids) but may also place greater demands on birds ability to process harder to extract nutrients.

    My goal is two-fold, use formulations that are exclusively grain based with minimal milling and having my selection / production program based on a flock having to due with such a sub-optimal supplement in free range setting.

    A well planned evaluation of plant only scratches may enable development of sustainable, low intensity production of meat and eggs suitable for many barnyard producers. We now have a great deal more knowledge concerning nutritional requirements of chickens than our forefathers/mothers as well as a broader range of grains available to meet those needs.
  8. vmdanielsen

    vmdanielsen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2010
    West Lebanon, NY
    I have dug out an old book I had. COMMERCIAL POULTRY RAISING by H. Armstrong Roberts, copyright 1918. It basically mandates the afore mentioned diets. It does recommend beef scraps with older chickens. It has been awhile since I have read it.

    My birds are pastured (for their protection) during the months I can get their fence posts in the ground, but here in the frozen northeast, expecting them to get anything out of their environment is unreasonable. I am very interested in your conclusions! I have another concern about commercial feeds....even organic ones and that is, does the addition of synthetic vitamins, compensate for the degradation of milled ,then stored grains (think Wonder bread)? You mentioned a mineral supplement, what do you use? I have been supplementing with kelp meal. Any comments welcome!
  9. Omniskies

    Omniskies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2008
    Has anyone actively tried to raise a flock of birds by free ranging them and supplementing with corn and scratch grain? I'm not just talking about scrappy egg layers, but actual dual purpose or meat breeds that know how to sort out their own diet.

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