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Getting started - what should be on my shopping list?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by pansophia, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. pansophia

    pansophia Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 19, 2007
    Minnesota
    Hubby and I are finishing up our coop and hope to bring home two started pullets in about two weeks. I'm trying to make a list of everything we need by then.

    Our biggest challenge seems to be feed. Since the whole point of this is to have eggs from happy and healthy hens, we hope to use organic feed. The only local supplier is taking several months off and the next closest is three hours away. Are there any trusted non-organic brands that we can feel good about feeding to our hens?

    I know they will need grit as well, is that mixed in with their feed or kept apart? How about scratch? My research so far seems to say that scratch is a more occasional treat.

    The two birds will probably be in their coop and extended run most of the day but we also plan to clip their wings so they can have the run of the yard while we're home (our fence is only about four feet). It's my sincerest hope that they will help get rid of all the creepy crawlies I hate!

    Am I missing anything?

    Thank you so much!!
     
  2. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    We started our flock on Purina SunFresh because it doesn't contain animal meats or by-products for protein.

    Don't forget you will need oyster shell and grit.

    When I was looking for organic feed here in NE Ohio I did 3 things.

    First I called all the local farm co-ops, feed mills, feed stores and Tractor Supply to see what if any organic feeds they carried and their prices. Second I searched for Ohio Organic Poultry Feed on the web. Third I asked my local county extension agent if he knew any local farmer or small mill providing organic poultry feed. I kept notes so was able to compare who had the best feed for the best price.

    I refuse to pay shipping for feed, it can be expensive enough without the additional costs; and I would rather support a local business, so for me local supply is preferable. We pay $11 for a 50# bag of certified organic layer mash with 17% protein. The supplier is a 4-hour round trip for us.

    Here is a site for locating organic feed suppliers in your area and making your own organic feed.
    http://www.lionsgrip.com/chickens.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2007
  3. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    2,104
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    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
  4. pansophia

    pansophia Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 19, 2007
    Minnesota
    Thanks! I've read so many books and websites that I feel I should have everything memorized by now but sometimes the hardest info to find is the most basic!

    I've found one organic feed supplier locally but I missed the first order date and she is due with baby #2 so will be out of commission for two months. I found another one that is on the way to my parent's cabin but we're not going to make it that direction until Memorial Day.

    The really local feed store (like six blocks away) actually carries chicks and starter feed but no chicken supplies. I was slightly alarmed by that - as if they fully expect the chicks not to make it to adulthood. Wierd. For our first chicken try we're getting started pullets, we'll save chicks and brooders for next summer.

    Got a few more places to call around to. Yeah, shipping is horrid - $50 for what is $13 locally. No way. Hubby started to think we should just use "normal" feed but I don't want these to be "normal" hens!
     
  5. chrissieg

    chrissieg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just a thought if you haven't got the feed sorted out, being realistic, have the chickens you're aquiring been eating organic food already? If not just keep them on 'ordinary' until the organic feed becomes available. I know you want the best for them, but to postpone things for a month or so seems sensible :|
     
  6. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Quote:If you want the flock to be certified organic, they have to be on organic feed immediately. Otherwise, as Chrissieg points out, it wouldn't hurt to wait.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2007
  7. pansophia

    pansophia Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 19, 2007
    Minnesota
    We'll only have two (that's what the city allows without getting a permit) so no fancy certifications for us. [​IMG]

    I think we've agreed that it doesn't have to be organic if we can't get it easily, but hubby wants at least vegetarian feed. He is from England and has lived through the whole Mad Cow thing and doesn't like the idea of feeding unknown animal bits to another animal. (We found out recently that he's not allowed to give blood because of this - whoda thunk it?)
     
  8. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Quote:Like I mentioned, we've used (and been happy with) Purina SunFresh Start & Grow for our chicks and Purina SunFresh Layena for our layers because it is made without animal meat or by-products. Our flock is fed a vegetarian diet for the same reasons.

    It looks like no one answered these questions for you....
    Quote:Grit and oyster shell should be provided free-choice 24/7. They need grit as soon as they start eating anything other than commercial feed. It should be kept in a separate container, not mixed with the feed. The birds will only eat what they need. You may find your birds don't seem to eat a great deal of grit if they find a source in your yard.

    Oyster shell should be provided to layers, and we started providing it to our flock at 16-18 weeks when we started providing Layena. It also should be kept in a separate container, not mixed with the feed. The birds will only eat what they need.

    I believe scratch should be considered an occasional treat; they don't really need it to survive. Don't mix it with their feed; or they will bill out the feed and eat just the scratch and may suffer nutritionally. It is a great tool for getting the birds to come to you when you call. Purchased scratch can have a high percentage of corn in it, which is a high fat grain. The heat produced by digesting the corn helps keep the birds warm at night in winter, which I'm sure they'll really appreciate in MN! [​IMG] Another treat our flock likes in winter is warm corn-on-the-cob. We tend to feed our flock more corn in winter and more oats, veggies and fruit in warmer months, but the layer feed and pasture grass is their main source of nutrition.

    Quote:Your birds will LOVE the creepy crawlies! [​IMG] Our birds don't have clipped wings, but it might be a good idea. But remember, if you clip their wings, they won't be able to fly away from any predators. Our fence is only 5' high and so far we haven't had any escapees. We do have 1/2" ag wire fence around the bottom two-thirds of the fence so they don't run through the bottom openings. They don't even try to sit on the fence. I tried to find a clear picture of our fence, but you can't see the ag wire in any of them. The flock is almost 1 year old and hasn't even seemed interested in the farm fields on the other side of the fence (yet). [​IMG]

    I think you will enjoy watching your birds exploring the yard. It is a great way to unwind at the end of the day!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2007

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