From Feed to o' natural . ..

Gen0cide

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 25, 2013
5
0
7
So, first of MANY newbie questions here .. .
I am wanting to go with the paddock/pasture system for feeding my yet to be flock of feather butts. I figure, since I'm trying to convert myself onto a mostly, if not all, home grown diet then why not my animals? I have the whole switching from one multiculture pasture/paddock to another cycle and having a system of scraps and bugs and worms to help also. However, I'm wondering if I will ever be completely rid of buying commercial feed. Is it possible? And if so, do I still need to start a new batch of chicks off with starter feed? I would assume that a momma hen would teach any chicks that I let hatch how to 'fend for themselves and all, but that would mean I would need to start out with a mature flock to begin with.

Anyone want to steer me in the right direction with this one?
 

Keltara

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,670
79
173
Small Town U.S.A., Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
You can still buy babies. Feed them starter/grower feed and when they are old enough to be outside....they will know exactly what to do. God puts that instinct into them. I have 6 Buff Orpingtons which we hand raised from day olds. My babies stayed in the house with us in a brooder until they were 7 weeks old. From 7 weeks on, they free range 365 days a year from dawn till dusk (even in the snow!). During the winter months, I have unlimited organic feed available to them in their run. They will eat what they need. In spring, summer and fall, I still offer the organic food, but they eat VERY little of it as they will always choose nature over commercial. My hens never had a mother hen to teach them to forage. They will do it naturally.

Kelly
✿​
Our Country Chronicles
✿​
 
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Quailsong

Songster
6 Years
Apr 20, 2013
741
81
158
.
So, first of MANY newbie questions here .. .
I am wanting to go with the paddock/pasture system for feeding my yet to be flock of feather butts. I figure, since I'm trying to convert myself onto a mostly, if not all, home grown diet then why not my animals? I have the whole switching from one multiculture pasture/paddock to another cycle and having a system of scraps and bugs and worms to help also. However, I'm wondering if I will ever be completely rid of buying commercial feed. Is it possible? And if so, do I still need to start a new batch of chicks off with starter feed? I would assume that a momma hen would teach any chicks that I let hatch how to 'fend for themselves and all, but that would mean I would need to start out with a mature flock to begin with.

Anyone want to steer me in the right direction with this one?
Concerning any protein issues...

Feeding them fresh protein will be easier than you can imagine if you start w/ mealworms. The easiest (by far) method I've used is get long & low tubs (like storage tubs for quilts) & raise all the generations in one bin. You can even stack 'em in other bins (with ventilation) if you want to grow more but in a large 3x3' long bin you'll have thousands easily. They grow fast (esp if it's room temp or a touch warmer), cooler temps slow growth (you can toss them in a cool basement or even a fridge if you want to slow 'em)

You can sift them from the grain (any, most prefer wheat as it's cheap but I'm celiac) with a DIY sifter. This can be as easy as an old plastic measuring cup w/ a glued-on mesh bottom.

Feed 'em potato peels, apples, whatever you have on hand. The 'feather butts' will eat them in any stage so there's no worries about waste. They don't crawl out, they don't fly, they really don't smell much at all (save for grain) & mould issues aren't a prob as long as you don't overfeed.

You can freeze 'em too for winter months & no worries about in-breeding worms. They're imo the best source of quick, easy & fresh protein for birds. They're also highly addicting (great as treats or if you want to entice them back into the barn!).

Best of luck going full on self-sustaining!

(As a note, I don't have any mealworms atm. My flock of quail (cots) will start up this summer. I have grown mealworms before in the past, and this is my fav method!)
 
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Gen0cide

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 25, 2013
5
0
7
Thanks a million to you both for the great advice. It will certainly get me started! :D
 

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