Feed Nerds! Opinions wanted re: whole grain feed recipe

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bootsNbirds, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    I'm brand new to the whole grains feed thing, but after a lot of research, I really want to give it a try. Hoping someone can offer advice on what worked for them, and how well their chickens laid while eating the whole grain diet. Don't want to skimp on nutrition for my girls!! My laying flock is 250 birds strong; I sell eggs at local farmer's market.

    My considerations are:

    No wheat or barley (I'm allergic to them & having cracked, bumpy, sore hands from handling feed is a real drag)
    Preferably non-GMO (my customers are a very health-conscious bunch!)
    Soy free
    Corn free
    Cost-effectiveness (need to keep the eggs at a reasonable price for the quality)



    This is what I've come up with. (100 lb recipe)

    alfalfa meal/pellet 7 lbs
    flax seeds 5 lbs
    brewer's yeast 3 lbs
    milo 25 lb
    oats 25 lb
    yellow split peas 10 lb
    BOSS 25 lb

    Crude protein works out to 18.98%
    Price is .30/lb, so $15.25 per 50 lb. About 2 bucks more than I pay for premixed feed at the feed store.


    Would be free-choicing oyster shell, kelp, and during the summer they get whatever veggies are leftover from my brother's organic vegetable operation.

    Opinions??? Should I just free-choice the yeast & leave it out of the mix? Is that too much BOSS?
     
  2. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    To me that is a lot of BOSS, and of that about 25% is indigestible fiber. You will not have the trace elements that a complete ration would include. Oats are to me, a cool food for summer feeding, They most likely have hulls so again a fair amount of bulk in your mix. The peas are good, I have trouble feeding the alfalfa, the milo is, to me, a filler grain, very low in protein as is the oats.

    I have tried similar strategies, but came to the realization that all I was doing was making expensive scratch. I like the 18.5% protein you are listing, I like to feed the better lay feed, and not the run of the mill 16% you see so often. My current lay feed is IFA 20% and I like it. You may find a better result to your foray into feeds and bird nutrition than I. One of the things I got from it, is that there is a reason my degree in not in animal nutrition. I'll follow your experience to see how you end up, I would like to pick it up again if I could overcome the lack of the 'base' mix, and a way to mix it. You have a lot of birds, that is cool.

    Best to you and your project,

    RJ
     
  3. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Okay, thanks RJ, I was worried about the BOSS. The trace elements is something I didn't even think about... would the kelp take care of that?

    Also, they will be free-ranging on good pasture, so hopefully the bugs, etc, could make up for small amounts of anything I've missed?

    Quote: Regarding the alfalfa, did you use meal or pellet? And what was the problem with it, they didn't want to eat it?

    The milo is indeed a filler grain, mostly in there for cost purposes :/ my first recipe had different grn and less milo, but it was wildly expensive per pound. The customers would never have paid that much for their eggs, LOL.
     
  4. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    I am not the local feed expert, Chris09 it the best here in that regard, on the Kelp, I think not. On the alfalfa, pellets and I am still unsure as to why my birds are not fond of them. Perhaps because I free range and they get enough green by themselves? I don't know why it is so for me. The pellets will mold if they even 'sniff' water or high humidity, storage of them has also plagued me. So I buy the small bags which are targeted toward rabbits I suppose, to keep my on hand stock fresh. They eventually do eat some of it, but it is a hard sell, at least for me. Perhaps those whom do not free range have better luck with it, I know people feed it to their birds, and I would like to use more than I do, but unless the chickens are on board with the 'plan' it ends up being all for not.

    Murray McMurray does sell a 'base' that you can then mix with your own grain, perhaps you might wish to look into doing that. It would have the trace elements and minerals, vitamins, etc. When I looked at it last, it was just more than I wanted to do. Don't give up your idea here, you may find a way that works for you and your birds.

    Make sure the birds 'like' what you have in mind, I've had more than one drum of feed go stale before they would use it up. What I think is good for them, and what they should eat, makes no difference to the bird. They just don't care how I fret for, or over them…

    Best to you and your feed plan,

    RJ
     
  5. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Thanks so much for your replies, RJ, you've been a big help. [​IMG] I'm going to look into the McMurray base.

    Good point about the alfalfa pellets being difficult to store, I haven't figured out a storage system for the mix yet...

    Quote: [​IMG] that's absolutely true! Chickens can be so picky! Definitely will try out the mix before paying for the 2 tons the mill wants me to buy.
     
  6. Double Kindness

    Double Kindness Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 25, 2014
    CO
    I have celiac disease and all commercial feed has wheat/barley, so I feel for you! I'm breaking out in bumps handling my chickens feed while I figure things out, please let us know of your progress/experience
     
  7. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Quote: Ugh that's what I have, celiac. :((( There has to be a better solution, right? Taking care of our animals shouldn't make us sick!
    I'll keep you guys updated for sure. Planning on calling the feed store tomorrow and ordering my whole grains, so I can try out the mix this week.
     
  8. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Instead of trying to formulate a balanced feed yourself with feed ingredient restrictions, go to your feed mill and talk to their staff nutritionist. You sound like you are grasping at straws and don't really have a handle on the big picture. If these birds are generating your income, you can't diddle with their diet. It must be spot on or you are wasting money everyday. Give them the parameters you are trying to hit, cost point and let them come up with a formulation. They do it for everyone. You just have to ask. You will be going through a minimum of 400# a week. They have price discounts for bulk ingredients and some will even deliver it and fill up your bulk feed bin. It should be cheaper than buying and mixing your own. They also have the ability to blend and bind the feed so it won't be picked through.

    Alfalfa is a good protein and Ca source for chickens. Pellets are not the way to go because they are typically milled for horses and are too large and too hard for chickens. You can either buy the fines or even easier just buy bales of high quality dairy hay and put them in the run for the chickens to forage on. Gives them hours of entertainment.

    Charge what you need to for your eggs and don't second guess it. You are producing a special niche product that people expect to pay a premium for. $6 was the going price for non GMO cage free XL brown eggs by me last summer. Brown eggs at the grocery store are $4 and those aren't even organic.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  9. Double Kindness

    Double Kindness Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hay is pretty cheap and relatively easy to procure.
    What about water cress? Isn't it high in calcium too? There's a reason I'm still using commercial feed and still dealing with reactions due to celiac and cross contamination issues, as I wasn't going my flocks justice by guessing at what to feed them. I ferment their food, now if only I would remember to put on my long pink "kimchi making" gloves before I futz with their food/feeding etc lol.
     
  10. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Get hold of Terry or Jacki at Chicken Tracks out in Hudson. They raise non GMO eggs for Lucky's, Whole Foods and others. They formulate their own feed and sell it on the side. It was being milled at the Greeley Elevator but since it closed, I don't know who mills it now (probably Agland in Eaton), I was trading them feed for coffee last summer at the farmer's market. Jacki will bring feed for you to the farmer's market they sell at.
     

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