Feeding only what we plant? Will this work? Cutting back on store feeds?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by DragonClaw01, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. DragonClaw01

    DragonClaw01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With all the birds combinde (chickens, geese, peafowl,ducks, guineas, turkeys, etc) we have about 100.

    Most are chickens, plus half a dozen ducks a quartet of geese, a trio or peafowl and a pair of turkeys plus a handful of guineas.

    If I planted 1-2 acres, what would we have to plant and when? How much of each? We have a sandy loam soil with lots of nutrients and rain (East Texas)

    During the winter months, what should we plant to continue to have food?

    I want to cut back the costs of storebought feed (11$ per 50 lb layer pellet). A bag seems to last 1.5 days.

    What's the best way to do this?

    Also, what are the dangers of doing this? I know in Texas, we have a problem in horse feed grown around here with a beetle that kills horses. Are there any dangers with doing this for chickens?

    We have 100+ acres, and we live on about 2.5 acres, we can expand as needed. Before we build the house we will be here. We just planted some more grass for the lawn, we are prepping the garden, but what about chicken food?

    I know Kale and Watercress are good for nutrients, black sunflower seeds for good oils. Can we grow all of this? But what should be the bulk of the diet?


     
  2. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    soybeans for the soybean meal(48% protein) corn(filler) oats, black oil sunflower seeds, millet, barley, milo, it will be a lot of work to do this and some of them require lots of processing, but if you are willing to put the work in it can be very rewarding.


    heres some sites that tell you what is in chicken feed
    http://articles.extension.org/pages/68432/common-feed-ingredients-in-poultry-diets
    http://www.poultryhub.org/nutrition/feed-ingredients/
    http://smallfarm.about.com/od/chickens/a/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Chicken-Or-Poultry-Feed.htm
     
  3. DragonClaw01

    DragonClaw01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How do we process grain?
     
  4. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don' know how to process grain, I said it would be hard.
     
  5. DragonClaw01

    DragonClaw01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a 6 series tractor, 2 ATVs, a riding mower, a drag harrow, fork lift for the tractor , a tiller and a bucket and a wood chipper.

    But that's my dad's hobby. Mine is just the chickens. What percent of the field should be each?

    For the sunflower, is that a specific plant or just garden variety sunflower?
     
  6. ygritte

    ygritte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you looked into growing fodder instead? Or in the short term while you plan out if you want to mill.
    It seems when done right you stretch your feed budget loads (I've heard 2 pounds of seed can become 13 pounds of fodder) and the digestability goes through the roof (from about 30% to 80%), so you get more food, and the hens need less of it to get the same nutrition.
    I'm playing around with some small setups, but haven't done much yet so I don't have a lot on how well it works.
     
  7. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The garden variety does not have enough protein in it black oil sunflower seed is what you want, I can't remember the species at the moment otherwise I would tell you, probably 1acre of what ever your filler will be whether it is corn or millet, or milo, or barley, or wheat, or oats. then plant enough sunflowers to get about 15% of your total feed load and then the rest as soybeans.
     
  8. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    while a good Idea 100 birds is a lot too much feed even with just adding a little to the diet, they go through about 50 lb in about a day and a half so 100 lb every 3 days.
     
  9. ygritte

    ygritte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It can be used on a large scale.
    Since OP was talking about planting acres of land, I don't see why setting up a large fodder system would be anymore work.
    Also... if you can go from using 100 pounds seed in 3 days to 100 pounds of seed over 19 days that's a vast improvement! remember 2 pounds of seed becomes 13 pounds of fodder.

    It was just an idea, though. I've read about fodder used on much larger operations than 100 poultry (ex dairy operations, milk goats, homesteads use it for all the animals on the premise)

    Just google DIY fodder systems and you'll get a million blogs, but here's one who feed 3-4 goats and 15-20 chickens (so smaller, but she does a decent price breakdown) http://www.peakprosperity.com/wsidblog/80359/diy-home-fodder-system
     
  10. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think that if I were thinking about doing something like this, I would keep a system in place that allowed access to the storebought pellets then start supplementing their diet with my other endeavors. I would do searches to see if other people had suceeded with a similar system and see what they grew. Would analyze the contents and components of existing commercial whole feeds (instead of pellets) to see what they contained.

    A lot of people succeed in bringing their feed bills down tremendously in the growing season by allowing their birds free range to forage. The key to forage is (1) eating bugs as it increases protein intake and (2) a wide variety of vegetation. So if you plan on keeping your birds confined to a coop/run situation, then I'd take the key points away from this: variety of vegetation and supplemental protein.

    Farming various insects for protein is easy (although can be stinky depending on the insect). Apart from mealworm farming that a lot of people on this forum have tried, you can also farm crickets, black soldier flies, various grubs and beetles, etc..

    As far as planting, for fresh vegetation I would create plots that I would succession plant so I could stagger the harvest throughout the season, plus maybe include a few plots of veggies/fruits that provided a continuous harvest (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc). For grain and seed crops that you would harvest all at once, you are going to have to consider harvest and storage methods or you'll end up with feed you can't use (such as moldy feed) or that gets eaten by bugs/rodents before you can give it to the chickens.

    Since you have the land, you could actually grow fodder using dirt instead of hydroponically. Heavily seed prepared ground, water, wait for it to grow maybe 4-5 inches tall, then either shovel it or pull it up and cart it to the chickens. You want to get the whole plant to make the most of all the nutrients.

    You could also plant something like clover and run it over with a bag mower when it's established. Empty the bag in the chicken run.

    Basically you could succeed using this method, but instead of spending money on bagged feed you would be spending a lot of time and labor to do it in a way that gave your chickens as complete of nutrition as the commercial feeds. And you'll notice during your research that even the commercial feeds that are made from whole grains contain a vitamin/mineral pre-mix in order to provide complete nutrition. They have to do that because it isn't cost effective to provide the amount of variety that a chicken would find on its own in a natural setting.
     
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