Feed options

Jejahess

Chirping
Mar 28, 2020
31
46
66
I'm trying my best to stay local with my meat bird feed purchases but this last batch of Cornish crosses I raised were not very impressive with their weight gain. I talked to the hatchery and they recommended a higher protein on my feed but my local mills are not making a 20% plus protein chick starter. The one mill actually recommended I get my chick starter from tractor supply which I am trying not to do. Would there be a downside to getting my chick starter from tractor supply and then switching to my local Mills 19% chick meal for the middle phase of growing? I would then go to a 15% finisher feed for the last two weeks. I guess the question is is there a downside to feeding chick meal to "middle-aged birds"?
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
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I think that is the best plan.
You can get 22 or 24% protein from TSC and other chains. Usually they'll be from their own brand Dumor. Nutrena, ADM or Purina.
I imagine the reason you can't get a higher protein feed from the local mill is that they can't sell enough to be able to keep the additives from going bad, so they choose not to make it.
To get protein up to 20+ percent, there needs to be a lot of synthetic amino acids or fishmeal or porcine meal.
Even 18% protein requires some synthetic amino acids (lysine and methionine) to grow chicks.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
591
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Maine
I've had problems in the past with locally milled feed being too low in the protein department. It took me some looking around, but I eventually sourced a feed mill that is a little farther away from me, but still a small business and family owned. They deliver pallets of bagged feed directly to my farm and their broiler starter is an acceptable protein level for starting the broilers off.

I find it more economical to use the starter the whole time and as the birds grow I mix in cracked corn to down the protein to the right percentage for their age. There is a good calculator here that calculates the ratios needed to mix two feeds to a certain protein level.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Nov 23, 2010
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I've had problems in the past with locally milled feed being too low in the protein department. It took me some looking around, but I eventually sourced a feed mill that is a little farther away from me, but still a small business and family owned. They deliver pallets of bagged feed directly to my farm and their broiler starter is an acceptable protein level for starting the broilers off.

I find it more economical to use the starter the whole time and as the birds grow I mix in cracked corn to down the protein to the right percentage for their age. There is a good calculator here that calculates the ratios needed to mix two feeds to a certain protein level.
very good advice
Finisher feeds are sometimes more expensive than other feeds and adding a small percentage of corn or other grains will accomplish the same thing.
 

Jejahess

Chirping
Mar 28, 2020
31
46
66
Thanks for the reply. Yes, the one mill I spoke with said they don't keep on hand the higher protein feeds. If I wanted that high of a protein, I would have to order it one ton at a time. This last batch of birds I raised went through 500 lb and I just do not have the desire or space to quadruple the number of birds I raise at a time.

I did not really consider diluting the higher protein feed to be able to keep feeding it. The other issue is the TSC feed is almost twice the price of my local mill so it really makes raising my own meat birds expensive. I understand that some of that cost increase is because of the higher protein and supplements used in making it, but it's still hard to justify.
 

ChickenCanoe

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I'm thinking outside the box here. There are always options.
One would be to buy the locally milled feed and get a bag of fishmeal or porcine meal and adding a 60% fishmeal to 16% feed at a rate of one part fishmeal to ten parts of 16% feed will yield 20% protein.
Another option is a company called Fertrell that makaes a feed supplement called Poultry Nutri Balancer. It comes in #60 bags. It is formulated to mix with a blend of grains, not feed, to give them the essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are missing in the grains.
 
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iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
591
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Maine
Thanks for the reply. Yes, the one mill I spoke with said they don't keep on hand the higher protein feeds. If I wanted that high of a protein, I would have to order it one ton at a time. This last batch of birds I raised went through 500 lb and I just do not have the desire or space to quadruple the number of birds I raise at a time.

Yeah it's definitely hard to strike a balance in your output and inputs. In the last couple years I have decided to double my production to meet the need for a good quality feed at an affordable price. The feed mill that I buy from will ship less than 1 ton at a time, but for the same freight cost as 1 ton so I have been going with 1 ton at a time and have upped my broiler numbers because of it. That caused me to have to build more pasture pens, find a market for twice as many birds, and carefully predict my feed consumption. I maintain a flock of 100+ layers and a few summer batches of broilers so my feed needs are sporadic. I calculate my feed consumption on a weekly basis - based on my best guess as well as my numbers from pervious years. It's a pain in the butt, but it saves me about 25% in feed costs- vs buying at the feed store. Plus, as long as I keep my customers satisfied, it ends up being more profit in the end. I'm certainly not in it to get rich, but I like to make sure that what I do pays my bills. :D
 
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Torinik

Chirping
Mar 5, 2020
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80
Is soy an option? I know a lot of people are against it for many different reasons, but I add soy meal to raise the protein content. Good feed is just seriously overpriced around here and in most cases that protein also comes from not so 'clean' sources. I can buy the meal by 25kg bags for usually less than 20$ per bag at about 44% protein. Can you buy such small amounts, and if so would the price be reasonable? Providing that you would want to add soy meal to your feed.

I watch my birds a lot, they forage quite a bit and I grow all sorts of 'greens' for them; so the soy meal I add is not on a consistent basis. Since it's one flock I keep an eye on egg-production, when the eggs start getting smaller I add the soy meal and of course I watch the growth rate of the youngsters, which I don't want to grow too fast anyway. But that's my preference. Most people probably want a healthy bird they can process as fast and economically as possible, which is perfectly logical and understandable of course. So, if you don't have objections to soy and you can get it in small enough batches at a decent price, this might work for you.

If you have the space and if it's legal (which it isn't around here) you can consider growing hemp. The seeds contain about 35% protein, you could add that to your feed either ground or not. Or you can just buy the seeds if you can get them decently priced, which again around here I can't, hence the soy meal. If you can grow it, your feed cost will probably go down quite a bit also.
 

Chickenfan777

In the Brooder
May 24, 2020
11
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23
If you need extra protein why not just supplement with dried mealworms? They contain roughly 50%+ protein per worm. My in laws and I bought a batch Cornish x at the same time from same place (tractor supply) and at 21 days mine are all 2lbs+ while theirs are only 1lb+ I’ve been giving mine mealworms since day 5 while they have not at all. Mine are literally twice the size of theirs... just a thought.
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,234
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Western Ohio
If you need extra protein why not just supplement with dried mealworms? They contain roughly 50%+ protein per worm. My in laws and I bought a batch Cornish x at the same time from same place (tractor supply) and at 21 days mine are all 2lbs+ while theirs are only 1lb+ I’ve been giving mine mealworms since day 5 while they have not at all. Mine are literally twice the size of theirs... just a thought.

mealworms are very high in fat. This can spell trouble for birds, although meat birds will likely be butchered before ill effects are seen. However, it’s possible your meat chicks may have more fat on them, as they are being fed more fat.
 

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