Feed prices increasing, points to ponder.

NNYchick

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 15, 2017
1,637
2,900
291
Harrisville, NY
I’m seeing a lot of post recently about increasing fed prices and going to cheaper feeds. Things to think about when changing to cheaper feeds, they are cheaper for a reason. Like using inferior products or unbalance nutrition. A few notes I’ve taken on suggestions from a poultry nutritionist:
1) make sure your feed is using quality ingredients, fresh and balanced
2) poultry need appropriate size grit, unless you are raising poultry on a gravel pit they will not get enough grit naturally you need to supplement. In and of itself grit offers no nutritional value. What grit does is do is to add more grinding ability to the birds gizzard. This makes their feed more digestible and not just grains, even pellets and crumbles and improve feed conversion rates.
3) stop free freeding, if feed is balanced they will eat 1oz per lb of body weight 5 lb chicken needs 5 oz food per day. Weigh the feed and only feed what the will eat in the day.
4) take the money you are spending on treats and supplements put it towards better feed. The treats make the owner feel good and loved not the chicken. Most treats are making your chicken fat and aren’t really healthy
5) keep only the number of chickens you can afford to feed. Don’t lower you feed quality to keep more chickens and put the whole flock at health risks, decrease number of birds you have to decrease feed cost.
A couple of good places with lots of resources from professionals is FB group “poultry keeping 360” and “poultry breeder nutrition”
Great video on how nutrition effects health:
 
3) stop free freeding, if feed is balanced they will eat 1oz per lb of body weight 5 lb chicken needs 5 oz food per day. Weigh the feed and only feed what the will eat in the day.

That only works if you have 1 chicken, so the greedy ones aren't stealing from the meeker chickens.
It also works poorly for growing chickens, when you want their weight to change.
I can't imagine putting a batch of chicks on a scale individually every day. 🤔

I knew a lady who fostered rescue dogs and weighed the food out precisely, yet wondered why they weren't gaining weight back or improving their coats. She thought they would incrementally gain what they needed from the "correct ration", but I never saw it happen until they left her house.


4) take the money you are spending on treats and supplements put it towards better feed.

I know I'd LOVE to take the money I am spending on treats and put it towards... Wait! What pocket did I put that money in? Where is it?
Where's my treat money?!?!

Oh.
That's right.
I never use money for that.

This reminds me of those financial budgeting articles that all start with the admonition to stop buying Starbucks and new iPhones. They are out-of-touch with the people they are talking down to.
The poultry nutritionist you gathered this from is making the mistake of assuming they know the audience.
And I'm saying this as someone not overburdened by the cost of feed. Imagine how disheartening this would be for someone feeling the pinch.
 
I know I'd LOVE to take the money I am spending on treats and put it towards... Wait! What pocket did I put that money in? Where is it?
Where's my treat money?!?!

Oh.
That's right.
I never use money for that.

This reminds me of those financial budgeting articles that all start with the admonition to stop buying Starbucks and new iPhones. They are out-of-touch with the people they are talking down to.
A number of people trying to cut down on their chicken feed costs think that scratch or treats are a necessity, so pointing it out isn't a bad idea.

And you'd be surprised at how many people with budgeting issues spend money on frivolous stuff, sigh. I'm on a collector's forum and the amount of folks that admit they'd rather not eat/eat poorly, or live at home in an unhappy situation, all to get some extra money to buy one extra new toy is higher than you'd think.
 
More expensive is NOT always better. Neither is minimally processed or "all natural". Those things aren't inherently worse, either.

First thing you should learn to do - whether concerned about cost, or simply trying to offer your birds the best feed you can - is learn to read the guaranteed nutritional label. and the mill date codes.

Second thing you should do is Shop Around - an identical product may be cheaper elsewhere, or store/mfg coupon codes may be available.

Yes, many offer treats needlessly, and its a very lucrative market segment for the feed producers.

You can, and should, look to cut waste. Maybe its a different style feeder. Maybe its pellets instead of crumble. Maybe its offering that crumble as a wet mash (as I do) or a ferment (as many do). Good for the pocket book, and less waste attracts fewer critters.

Number 5 is a harsh lesson, but I agree. Keep only the critters you can afford to feed.

...and you CAN "bend the curve" some if your birds can forage - but how much you can potentially save depends on your bird's ability to forage, the area you have in which to provide forage, the quality of the forage, and the growing season. Filling small sprouting trays with expensive seeds won't do it - you have to work at scale to get anything like bulk discount pricing AND you run real dietary risks in creating imbalance while trying to do good - particularly if you are offering the same "class" of sprouts day after day. "Healthy" is NOT synonymous with "Balanced".

There is no one size fits all answer, or everyone would be doing it (well, except that one guy, because there is always that one guy...), no "One, Right Way". But there is the right way for you, in your circumstances. Be honest with yourself about those circumstances, or you are likely to choose one of the thousands of wrong ways.
 
I buy Kalmbach Flock Raiser 20% protein. VERY little gets wasted. The fine powdery stuff that ends up at the bottom of the bowl gets dumped into a sealed container and used as a "snack" by wetting it and making it into a mash. The chickens love it.

This time of year, I take them buckets of weeds from the garden. They love to scratch through it, so it's entertainment and a bit of food. They also get kitchen scraps. Any vegetable peelings, the core of a head of lettuce, shriveled apples, stuff like that. One of my neighbors saves some stuff for me too.

When I'm weeding or digging in the garden, I have a "bug bucket" next to me. Mostly it's for grubs, but I also find wire worms. Soon I'll be hunting Japanese Beetles; they'll be out about July 4th. I look at it as pest control as well as free protein and entertainment for the chickens.

I don't buy any treat stuff; I bought a bag of dried mealworms about two years ago, and I have at least 1/3 of it left. We aren't feeding the wild birds now, so the chickens get a little bit of BOSS about once a week.

There is no doubt that prices are going up. I have rather expensive "free" eggs. It comes down to how I want to spend my money. I want to have chickens, so I have to buy chicken feed.
 
That only works if you have 1 chicken, so the greedy ones aren't stealing from the meeker chickens.
It also works poorly for growing chickens, when you want their weight to change.
I can't imagine putting a batch of chicks on a scale individually every day. 🤔
Yes I’m sorry I did forget to add that this is only for adults, chicks and grow outs need feed free choice.
You don’t have to weigh them every day. I know my adult bantams weigh about 2 lbs = 2 oz per bird I multiple this by the number of birds I’m feeding and weight it out to see what the amount looks like, I add just a little extra. I feed the same time every day I like to see that little extra left in the feeder, if it’s completely empty I add a little more than the previous day if there’s a lot I add a little less.
I solved my problem of them wasting feed and need for multiple feeders by using a trough feeder on a chain I can keep at back level. Being a trough everyone has space to eat and if Matilda doesn’t like Suzy then Suzy eats at the opposite end. Keeping it at back level prevents them from beaking it out on to the ground.
A3F9FEA7-EA4E-48CF-984E-D5A014E880D5.jpeg
A27B614A-0413-41FE-9EA6-47F990916AB7.jpeg

I add the thing about treats because when I first started with chickens I thought I had to give them mealworms and that was the only way to have friendly chickens. But then I found out they really aren’t all that beneficial for them and at $40 a bag it outrageous. My chickens think the best treat ever is when I add some water to their feed, I scramble up extra eggs, or a dollop of plain yogurt. My chickens are friendly and follow me around and sit next to me for a chat.
First thing you should learn to do - whether concerned about cost, or simply trying to offer your birds the best feed you can - is learn to read the guaranteed nutritional label. and the mill date codes.
This is why I added resources to research what should be in the guarantee analysis. So many of these feed companies are charging us outrageous prices for subpar products that barely meet the minimum requirements for poultry nutrition. It’s important that we learn what our poultry need so we can make the best choice for our flock.
Yes I’m one of those people that contact the feed mill and request a ingredient list and guarantee analysis. I have gotten oh that propriety we can’t share that and my answer is then I can’t buy it because I want to know what my poultry are getting. Guess what they do send it to me. I also have moved all the bags to buy the fresher one on the bottom.
I buy Kalmbach Flock Raiser 20% protein.
I use kalmbach Flock maker as well. I use crumble for chicks and pellets for adults. I am extremely happy with this feed I noticed there are very little fines in it. I have to order it from Chewy because I don’t have a local distributor but I have found they run promotion on it and it’s always been fresh (oldest bag I’ve gotten was 3 weeks from mill date) can’t say that about my local farm stores where I was driving from store to store trying to find something fresher than 6 months old, that’s when I went to chewy and haven’t looked back. I also use a supplement that has fish meal, kelp, alfalfa and probiotics for all my chicks and grow outs and my adults from start of molt through winter until I’m done collecting hatching eggs (late spring) by this time they are out eating bugs. I buy a 10lb bag and divide it up in smaller amounts and it last me a year. Free choice grit and oyster shell available all the time.
Number 5 is a harsh lesson, but I agree. Keep only the critters you can afford to feed.
I had plan on hatching 60 chicks from my breeding pens this year but after my feed went up I decided not to hatch that many and just put this year on hold. I did hatch 20 to replace cockerels I lost to a fox and sell a few fall pullets to help with feed cost. I did sell a few hens and hatching eggs this spring and that paid for my summer feed and yearly supplement.
 
Yes I’m sorry I did forget to add that this is only for adults, chicks and grow outs need feed free choice.
You don’t have to weigh them every day. I know my adult bantams weigh about 2 lbs = 2 oz per bird I multiple this by the number of birds I’m feeding and weight it out to see what the amount looks like, I add just a little extra. I feed the same time every day I like to see that little extra left in the feeder, if it’s completely empty I add a little more than the previous day if there’s a lot I add a little less.
I solved my problem of them wasting feed and need for multiple feeders by using a trough feeder on a chain I can keep at back level. Being a trough everyone has space to eat and if Matilda doesn’t like Suzy then Suzy eats at the opposite end. Keeping it at back level prevents them from beaking it out on to the ground.
View attachment 3155724View attachment 3155725
I add the thing about treats because when I first started with chickens I thought I had to give them mealworms and that was the only way to have friendly chickens. But then I found out they really aren’t all that beneficial for them and at $40 a bag it outrageous. My chickens think the best treat ever is when I add some water to their feed, I scramble up extra eggs, or a dollop of plain yogurt. My chickens are friendly and follow me around and sit next to me for a chat.

This is why I added resources to research what should be in the guarantee analysis. So many of these feed companies are charging us outrageous prices for subpar products that barely meet the minimum requirements for poultry nutrition. It’s important that we learn what our poultry need so we can make the best choice for our flock.
Yes I’m one of those people that contact the feed mill and request a ingredient list and guarantee analysis. I have gotten oh that propriety we can’t share that and my answer is then I can’t buy it because I want to know what my poultry are getting. Guess what they do send it to me. I also have moved all the bags to buy the fresher one on the bottom.

I use kalmbach Flock maker as well. I use crumble for chicks and pellets for adults. I am extremely happy with this feed I noticed there are very little fines in it. I have to order it from Chewy because I don’t have a local distributor but I have found they run promotion on it and it’s always been fresh (oldest bag I’ve gotten was 3 weeks from mill date) can’t say that about my local farm stores where I was driving from store to store trying to find something fresher than 6 months old, that’s when I went to chewy and haven’t looked back. I also use a supplement that has fish meal, kelp, alfalfa and probiotics for all my chicks and grow outs and my adults from start of molt through winter until I’m done collecting hatching eggs (late spring) by this time they are out eating bugs. I buy a 10lb bag and divide it up in smaller amounts and it last me a year. Free choice grit and oyster shell available all the time.

I had plan on hatching 60 chicks from my breeding pens this year but after my feed went up I decided not to hatch that many and just put this year on hold. I did hatch 20 to replace cockerels I lost to a fox and sell a few fall pullets to help with feed cost. I did sell a few hens and hatching eggs this spring and that paid for my summer feed and yearly supplement.
Are you purchasing your supplement from Chewy? Not having any success looking for a supplement with just those ingredients. Not unusual for our area unfortunately. Live rural with no feed stores and the one we have is in a town that is catering to tourists and there is not many choices at the feed store. We will make a 2 hour trip occasionally to have some things we want. Do you have suggestions as to which brand supplements would be best? Have not heard of kalmbach feed?? Not sold at our feed store. We WILL BE giving it a try! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
 
Are you purchasing your supplement from Chewy? Not having any success looking for a supplement with just those ingredients. Not unusual for our area unfortunately. Live rural with no feed stores and the one we have is in a town that is catering to tourists and there is not many choices at the feed store. We will make a 2 hour trip occasionally to have some things we want. Do you have suggestions as to which brand supplements would be best? Have not heard of kalmbach feed?? Not sold at our feed store. We WILL BE giving it a try! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
No I purchase it from Fertrell https://the-fertrell-company.myshop.../products/poultry-show-and-breeder-supplement
The supplement was developed by a poultry nutritionist specifically to add to commercial feds to increase the nutritional value for breeding and show birds.
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