Feeding your flock amidst of feed shortages

saysfaa

Songster
Jul 1, 2017
901
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Upper Midwest, USA
This might help someone get a little closer to a balanced diet if they aren't going deep into nutrition. It is from notes I took from this forum several years ago. I can't give credit to who shared it, though. This from my condensed notes where I didn't necessarily keep all the references.

Lol. The Feeds section on these notes says "Strongly recommend against dabbling in assembling homemade feeds imprecise calculations, wrong or missing ingredients, and ingredients improperly prepared or stored can all result in behavioral or health problems. Nutritionally complete rations are not found in recipes in books or on internet. Poultry nutrition is complicated and there is much to it. Yes, Grandma’s flock survived. But..." ------ Which I completely agree with - I have no desire to put in the time/effort needed to do a good job if I gave up my commercial chicken feed.
 

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saysfaa

Songster
Jul 1, 2017
901
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Upper Midwest, USA
An alternative to mealworms... this is also condensed notes
Growing your own worms is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to obtain high quality protein for your poultry. Use harvested worms directly or dry them as feed components.

Unlike garden earthworms, red worms (Eisenia fetida) thrive in an environment with lots of decaying matter. Worm composting needs: red worms, a bin, bedding, and food scraps.

Researchers have found optimum conditions:
• temperature: 65 to 80 degrees F • moisture content: 60 to 80 percent
• pH: greater than 5 and less than 9 • oxygen: yes, the worm bed must be kept aerobic

Red worms can ingest as much as their body weight each day. So, have one to two times as much weight of worms as you have food scraps per day. Two to three pounds of red worms will start most home worm bins.

A good worm bin is a sturdy (wooden) box with a heavy, tight-fitting lid to keep pests out and moisture in. 12 to 18 inches deep is best so the worms get air. Provide for drainage.

Fill the bin to the top with moist bedding such as: fall leaves, shredded newspaper or cardboard, old straw, coarse sawdust, rabbit manure, or aged dairy or horse manure. Immersing bedding in water for several minutes (longer for brown leaves or sawdust) then remove it from the water and wring out or drain excess water. Moist bedding should feel damp like a wrung out sponge.

Feed worms by burying veggie food scraps in holes dug into the bedding. Bury scraps in a different spot each time. Always cover the scraps with a few inches of bedding and/or castings to discourage flies and odors. Give them scraps of fruits and vegetables, grains, old bread, coffee grounds, used tea bags, and egg shells. But NOT oily foods, meat, seafood, or dairy products.

Every 3 to 6 months push the old bedding and decomposing scraps to one side of the bin, rebed the empty side, and start burying food wastes in the fresh bedding. Allow the older scraps to finish composting for another month or so before harvesting. One of the real benefits of worm composting is producing worm castings for your garden.

Worm composting bins are relatively trouble free. Fruit flies in summer - minimized by covering fresh food scraps with a few inches of bedding or castings, and by covering the bedding with newspapers tucked in around the edges. If the bin smells bad, it probably has too much food waste in it, is too wet, or has animal products. Remove excess or inappropriate wastes and add fresh bedding.
 

saysfaa

Songster
Jul 1, 2017
901
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Upper Midwest, USA
There are more studies [on fermented feeds] but I don’t need them; can see for myself. There is less evidence of partially processed grains in the poops and less smell. My dog no longer finds the poops edible or attractive. Less of my money is laying on the ground. To loosely summarize the studies, FF are a valuable probiotic source for chickens, increase the length and absorption of the intestinal villi, can increase the total protein absorption by 12%. Egg weight increased; fewer broiler chicks died of dehydration in transport and more showed improved digestion when fed the wet feeds early on (fermented feeds stimulated GI development). Fewer incidents of cocci, salmonella, etc. and greater overall health.

--- For grown birds, sunflower seeds don’t have to be shelled.

----Lentils are very high in protein, higher than soy, and provide almost all essential amino acids and iron. This much I remember from nutrition 101. They have been a staple since recorded history. Try a small batch and test your chickens on them. Old beans do need to soak longer :) but they are cheaper.

---oats is a wonderful feed for chickens; only 8% protein but if you soak/ferment them, it shoots up to 12% or so

---For the best tasting birds, my hatchery (Rochester in Alberta) recommends feeding milled grains without poultry supplement for the last 2 weeks before butcher. They suggest: ≤15% Barley ≤25% Oats 65 - 100%Wheat

---We make our own soy-free feed for our layers and meat chickens using alternative safe beans for protein, such as Adzuki beans, Garbanzo Beans, or Split Peas, Lentils All these beans/peas do not need roasting to be safe for chickens, so we just grind them coarsely. We also use Fishmeal (chickens NEED animal protein) to help boost the protein, since these other beans are not as high in protein as Soy (about 24% instead of 46%). I have not tried to avoid Corn totally. Other main ingredients in our feed mixes include wheat and Oats and a small amount of Black oil Sunflower Seeds.

--- Kelp provides all minerals, including salt

---- I also feed them dirt. Yep, plain old dirt from outside. They've had it since day 2. I estimate that they have eaten half to an equal amount of dirt compared to their food by weight. I figure it's good for their gizzard, guts and poop. Picture shows shovel-fulls of dirt piled on the floor [perhaps they scratch it out some – not eat that much]

---- Thanks for the idea of feeding dirt, I tried it – first time I’ve ever not had a single case of pasty butt. [also first time feeding fermented]

-- Have you got a creek or river nearby? That's where I got my grit.... It has some good, clean sand and smaller stones, tiny pieces of quartz, etc. Since they got old enough to find their own out there, they no longer need mine.

---quartz-based sand with angular edges (not rounded, as riverbeds often have) can be collected wherever you find it.

---- I heard to soak eggshells in vinegar to make the calcium more bioavailable. Maybe put shells in pails too
---- studies on fermented beet pulp
http://jcsp.org.pk/index.php/jcsp/article/viewFile/516/215
http://www.livestrong.com/article/550599-beet-pulp-vs-rice-bran-for-weight-gain/

Flax seeds, kelp, fish meal, BOSS, dried alfalfa, grasses and clovers, vegetables and fruit, crushed egg shells,

----What do your chickens like and dislike?
--- The wheat doesn't ferment well, the outer casing is too tough...the birds didn't like it and left it alone until they just HAD to eat it. Crimped or whole oats is another thing they didn't seem to like.
Barley was a big hit, cracked corn a little less desirable but still got eaten.
Anything milled more finely and then fermented was a big hit...can't be selective when the pieces are small, can they?

---Mine seem to like the barley best, then the oats, then corn...they will leave some of that...but if the ground is not picked clean then guess what? They get no more till it is! I figure they must not really be hungry after all.
----Mine didn't like the whole oats at first either. So I left them in the feeder until they cleaned it up they didn't get any more feed. The next night they LOVED the oats and ate them first. LOL I'm such a mean momma.
---Mine must be unusual, they have always loved the whole oats fermented, they also like any grain I have tried fermented (wheat, corn, scratch that had ????) they do not like the layer pellets fermented at all.

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Don’t feed: any green part of a nightshades. (solanine and/or chaconine).
Some kinds of raw or dry beans (sprouted beans are good) (hemaglutin) (phytohaemagglutinin)
onions (thiosulphate)
salty food sugary food moldy foods (especially soft fruits)
citrus avocado banana peels apple seeds

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--- I've noticed for the past few years none of my chickens want to clean up cracked corn. They used to gobble it first thing but something has changed...I'm thinking it is the GMO; I’ve read studies that indicate animals just don't prefer it and some won’t eat it at all. Whatever the change, it makes the cheapest grain be the less preferable to the chickens. Even my meaties, who will eat anything that moves and most things that don't, leave the corn and some of the wheat. I'm sticking with barley as the biggest percentage and some oats, then maybe will add some layer mash to fill it out.

---The advent of Roundup ready corn has greatly changed feeding livestock. GMO corn has a protein content of 6% not the 8 to 10 of the old varieties. Resists roundup but lower protein was considered a good trade. They just add 48% soybean meal to get the right protein level overall for whatever they are feeding.

---So of the following, what would you all ferment for layers & ducks? And why?
Striped sunflower seeds (are these better/worse than BOSS?) Flax seed
Racing pigeon feed (peas & grains) Purina Flock raiser (prolly all soybeans)
Bird seed (millet & safflower) Lentils

---Reply: None of them! I wouldn't feed any of this to my flocks. Because they just aren't necessary....a good all flock ration from the local feed mill would suffice for all birds with a calcium supplement free choice for the layers. If you want to add whole grains to your all flock ration, I'd choose grains that are cost effective like oats, barley, etc.

If this is feed you have around that you just want to get rid of, then I'd put it all together, except the stripey sunflower seeds, and ferment the whole batch and feed it until it's all gone and never buy any of it again. The hulls of the SSS may not break down enough to let any fermentation into the seed itself and they are kind of bulky for hens to ingest....mine never would give them a second glance. BOSS is something they can pick up easily and their gizzard has no problem with breaking down their thinner and more brittle and less leathery hulls.

----Soy beans are legumes and some people ferment them.
http://www.nfprotein.com/nutraferma/soy_protein.html
http://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=20000501001338

----The soybean meal you get at the feed store is from soybeans that have been roasted. Yes, it does have to be cooked first in some way. If you use peas (field or black eye) though, it doesn't.

http://articles.extension.org/pages/67361/legumes-in-poultry-feed

Legume seeds have twice as much protein as grains. Crude protein of legume grains ranges from 27% in peas and faba beans to almost 50% in soybeans. They are also high in iron and B vitamins.

One of the factors limiting the use of grain legumes as feed is the presence of antinutritional factors in legumes that decrease the nutritive value of the grain and, in large amounts, cause health problems for animals. These antinutritional factors include protease inhibitors, lectins, ligosaccharides, phytate, antivitamins, L-canavanine, tannins, and isoflavones.

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are one of the world's most important grain legumes. Like other legumes, chickpeas contain such antinutritional factors as protease and amylase inhibitors, lectins, tannins, and oligosaccharides. These interfere with nutrient absorption from the digestive tract. Most of the antinutritional factors in chickpeas can be deactivated by heat treatment.

Cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), aka black-eyed peas, are an important in tropical and subtropical regions. They have an amino acid profile that is similar to that of soybeans but have some antinutritional factors. They are suitable for poultry feed, source does not say how much or how to prepare them.

Faba beans (Vicia faba) nutrient content looks like a suitable substitute for soybean meal, but the presence of antinutritional factors has limited their use in poultry diets. Basically, don’t feed unless commercially processed.

Field peas (Pisum sativum) The relatively low levels of antinutritional factors in pea grains eliminates the need for heat treatment of field peas prior to inclusion in poultry diets.
http://articles.extension.org/pages/67359/feeding-field-peas-to-poultry
The protein of field peas is highly digestible and has an excellent amino acid profile. Peas have high levels of lysine. The amino acids of field peas and canola complement each other and are an alternative combination protein source for poultry diets. The available energy content of field peas is similar to that of barley. Peas can be a valuable energy and protein source for poultry. Unlike whole soybeans, spring-seeded peas have low levels of trypsin inhibitors, so they can be fed without being roasted. Field peas can be included as up to 40% of the content of layer diets, but 10% is a more practical level. Broilers and turkeys can be fed diets composed of 20% to 30% field peas without negatively affecting performance. Commercial feed enzymes can be added to increase protein digestibility in diets containing high levels of field peas.

Lupins do not requiring roasting prior to feeding. There are two classifications lupins: Bitter types are high in alkaloids, compounds that have been bred out of the sweet varieties. Use of even sweet lupins in poultry feed is limited by the level of pectins which increase the viscosity of the bird’s digestive tract, which reduces dry-matter digestibility, reducing feed efficiency. Sweet lupins can make up 40% of broiler diets with no adverse effects on growth, feed efficiency, or carcass characteristics.

Lentils (Lens culinaris) are grown primarily for human consumption, Lentils have a relatively high protein content and few digestive inhibitors.

Soybeans

Common vetch
(Vicia sativa) is an annual climbing legume now grown all over the world. It is resistant to drought and can also grow in poor soils. The presence of cyanoalanine toxins has limited the use of common vetch seed for poultry.
Limit use of raw common vetch to only 5 to 10% of a poultry diet and heated common vetch to 25%.

Bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia) is an old grain legume with high yields and resistance to droughts and insects. It is a good source of energy, and its amino acid profile is similar to that of soybeans. The seeds have been used in animal diets, but the presence of canavanine has limited the use of bitter vetch in poultry diets. The most important effect is reduced feed intake. It is effective in inducing a molt to recycle a laying flock. Basically, don’t feed it at all.

The grain of woollypod vetch (Vicia villosa ssp.) cannot be used in any poultry feed.
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/sites/default/files/grow_your_own_poultry_feed.pdf
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,639
13,528
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
This might help someone get a little closer to a balanced diet if they aren't going deep into nutrition. It is from notes I took from this forum several years ago. I can't give credit to who shared it, though. This from my condensed notes where I didn't necessarily keep all the references.

Lol. The Feeds section on these notes says "Strongly recommend against dabbling in assembling homemade feeds imprecise calculations, wrong or missing ingredients, and ingredients improperly prepared or stored can all result in behavioral or health problems. Nutritionally complete rations are not found in recipes in books or on internet. Poultry nutrition is complicated and there is much to it. Yes, Grandma’s flock survived. But..." ------ Which I completely agree with - I have no desire to put in the time/effort to do a good job if I gave up my commercial chicken feed.

^^^ Place me in this camp, too. The more I learn, the less I would consider doing this in anything but an emergency. ...and in that emergency, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to get the ingredients needed to "make it work".
 

Croft5Homestead

Chirping
Feb 15, 2021
66
166
83
Hi guys, I have a basic food plan for if stuff hits the fan... I was wondering if y’all would help me out, with the flaws or mistakes I might make?
(1) ration the feed I have, mix it with scrap veggies, etc. until it’s gone.
(2) I raise rabbits, and obviously have ALOT of them. I would butcher small amounts every day, and feed the innards to my chickens as a protein supplement.
(3) I am planning on raising either red worms or meal worms, as another source of protein.
(4) until it runs out, I plan on sprouting my grain for fodder
(5) constant daily field rotation for constant free range (they are partial free range now)
(6) I plan on using rain barrels for water, with apple cider vinegar (until that runs out)
(7) compost turning
(8) I may have a cow by then and give them milk occasionally (yes, I know milk can be harder on them, but it should be fine occasionally, right?)
(9) their own eggshells for calcium
(10) whatever grains I would be able to get my hands on (that are good for chickens)

So far this is all I have, it’s a basic outline. By “ Until it runs out” I mean until I am entirely unable to provide it or purchase it. I plan to use every resource I have until it runs out, and will try to get my hands on the things they will need. I’m not sure how severe our shortage problems could be. If you spot any flaws or huge mistakes, please let me know and any suggestions to further my knowledge is definitely wanted!
 

saysfaa

Songster
Jul 1, 2017
901
1,931
241
Upper Midwest, USA
Not teally a flaw or mistake but you might look into making the milk into clobber to feed the chickens.

And cows are herd animals, they do much better with a companion. A wether will do in a pinch. If you haven't done much livestock handling, you might want to start with a couple of steers. Herford are lot more beginner friendly than angus.
 

Croft5Homestead

Chirping
Feb 15, 2021
66
166
83
Not teally a flaw or mistake but you might look into making the milk into clobber to feed the chickens.

And cows are herd animals, they do much better with a companion. A wether will do in a pinch. If you haven't done much livestock handling, you might want to start with a couple of steers. Herford are lot more beginner friendly than angus.
I didn’t mean just one cow, I actually have experience with cattle. My grandfather raises beef cattle for a living. We are thinking about a miniature Jersey though, any thoughts on that? This is what is available in our area. But I was thinking we will need a pretty hardy one, due to some pretty swampy weather in the summer. Which ones would you recommend?
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,639
13,528
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Old timers in some cases used skim milk, or whey, as a partial substitute for water to offer the chickens as a way of improving their diet, while removing the majority of the milk proteins chickens have difficulty digesting for human use.

Its a "use everything" approach, the same way ricotta is made from the leftovers of the (intended) cheese-making process, with the liquid that remains after the first bunch of proteins have been bound for ricotta, romano, parmesan, asiago, fontina, etc

mixing grains (primarily corn and wheat, but you can sub in amounts of oats, barley, sorghum, etc) to 80% of your feed, then adding "meat scraps" - which is to say ground, cooked rabbit (less fur and bones) for the remaining 20% will likely get you close to what would be considered a "decent" feed now - just be aware that rabbit is pretty lean, so this is a case where the moderately high fat content of corn is actually a net benefit.
Rain barrel collection is of course wise, but routine addition of vinegar simply selects for slimes and molds that prefer an acid environment. If you have juice that's gone sour (or that you've deliberately made vinegar from), sure - but you may find that vinegar more important for your own use to preserve (pickle) veggies for your own later consumption.
 

Croft5Homestead

Chirping
Feb 15, 2021
66
166
83
Old timers in some cases used skim milk, or whey, as a partial substitute for water to offer the chickens as a way of improving their diet, while removing the majority of the milk proteins chickens have difficulty digesting for human use.

Its a "use everything" approach, the same way ricotta is made from the leftovers of the (intended) cheese-making process, with the liquid that remains after the first bunch of proteins have been bound for ricotta, romano, parmesan, asiago, fontina, etc

mixing grains (primarily corn and wheat, but you can sub in amounts of oats, barley, sorghum, etc) to 80% of your feed, then adding "meat scraps" - which is to say ground, cooked rabbit (less fur and bones) for the remaining 20% will likely get you close to what would be considered a "decent" feed now - just be aware that rabbit is pretty lean, so this is a case where the moderately high fat content of corn is actually a net benefit.
Rain barrel collection is of course wise, but routine addition of vinegar simply selects for slimes and molds that prefer an acid environment. If you have juice that's gone sour (or that you've deliberately made vinegar from), sure - but you may find that vinegar more important for your own use to preserve (pickle) veggies for your own later consumption.
Great! My thinking behind the vinegar was to help their immune systems, in case they had a harder time with the diet change. But you make a good point.
 

Brigitt

Songster
Jun 18, 2017
34
44
104
S-America
It depends where you live. Growing corn and rice is what is available where i live. I can throw a handful of kernels on the ground, and a new plant will spring up in a matter of days. The chickens eat the green and kill the plant, but it is that easy to sprout. I think in an emergency, i would enclose an area and grow corn.
And gandul (cajanus cajan) for protein and fodder.
 

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