Growing feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by pjkobulnicky, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. pjkobulnicky

    pjkobulnicky Hatching

    Apr 18, 2008
    I'm new to the site and I do apologize if this is a tired topic. I've done layers for a long time but have usually purchased layer mash. I'd like to consider growing my own feed. I'm in Ohio so standard midwestern climate. So ...

    If one were to grow one's own feed (organic) for a small flock of layers, what would you grow? It seems to me that you would want productivity per square foot of space used, good chicken nutrition, multiple croppings per year if possible, storability, ease of manual harvest, modest requirements of the soil and probably other qualities that I am missing. I am mostly interested in storable feeds since finding food for chickens when the garden is producing for us is easy ... not to mention the red wigglers out of my compost whose population balloons in the warm weather.

    I was thinking that good candidates are amaranth, millet, sunflowers (hard on soil though) , oats, spelt ...

    Any experience out there?

  2. justinszoo

    justinszoo Songster

    Mar 24, 2008
    NW Ohio
    Not a whole lot of experience, but I can tell u couple things from my parrot experience. Sunflowers are very fatty and millet doesnt hold a lot of nutritional value. With that being said, I only give both to my parrots in small amounts and as treats. Not sure but seeing that chickens are birds, they prob hold true for them too.

    Oats, corn, buckwheat, barley, safflower, and milo would be a few things that might work. Again, not a pro, but it works for parrots.
  3. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * Have NO IDEA what the plants look like or how to grow or harvest them but, if I had any room--would try lentils (very high protein) and flaxseed (protein, efa's, fiber) and peas, probably.
  4. pjkobulnicky

    pjkobulnicky Hatching

    Apr 18, 2008
    Seems like legumes of all types are problematic for chickens unless cooked (energy use) and corn needs to be cracked and/or sprouted for maximum benefit although it is tried and true. I do like the other ideas from above.

  5. S0rcy

    S0rcy Songster

    How about Quinoa? It's another form of amaranth, good protein [​IMG]
  6. healingdeva

    healingdeva In the Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    I've been reading a lot about what could be grown for chickens for their feed. Still have a lot more research to do but here is what I've put together so far. Note, this is based off of a concept I read on an Aussie site about chickens needing greens, grains, grit and grubs.

    . living green forages (grasses, clovers, broadleaved weeds)
    . cover crops
    . dandelion
    . comfrey
    . kale/collards
    . nasturtium
    . grain grasses (wheat, barley, oats, rye)
    . crucifers (turnips, mustards, rape)
    . yellow dock
    . stinging nettle

    . calcium/oyster/egg shells
    . rock

    . worms (compost)
    . black soldier fly larvae
    . maggots
    . mealworms
    . insects
    . slugs
    . fish meal

    . flax seed (whole)
    . corn (cracked, sprouted))
    . peas
    . oats
    . sunflower seeds
    . lentils
    . wild weed seeds
    . millet
    . wheat
    . oats
    . barley (sprouted?)

    salt (livestock feeding salt w/ trace minerals)
    kelp (minerals)
    cultured yeast
  7. hoosier

    hoosier Songster

    I have been thinking about this myself.
    I was thinking corn, wheat, oats, and sunflowers(for protein). I also thought about soybeans for protein but wasn't sure about processing it so they could digest it. I hadn't thought of amaranth.
  8. pjkobulnicky

    pjkobulnicky Hatching

    Apr 18, 2008
    I'm drawn to the more primitive grains both for nutrition and plant vigor. My past was full of issues of Organic Gardening when amaranth was all the rage. And, there are so many new varieties of amaranth that one can grow it as an ornamental. It's major drawback, as I recall, is its propensity to self-sow like an invasive if not harvested at the right time.
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:I am growing winter rye and oats right now. I should harvest around the 4th of July, but hopefully sooner. .... just in time to get a crop of buckwheat in. :0 Being in the PNW west of the Cascades though, is rather non-traditional grain country.

    I did mix some of my own feed last year using bulk wheat, soy bean meal (and some linseed meal)... The loose mineral I get for my cows and sheep is actually considered a feed pre-mix. So you add it to the rolled grains you choose, then mix in the correct ammount of seed meal to reach the target protein %.

    Simply feeding grain alone, though, will not be enough protein for them.

    All those grains are good candidates.
  10. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    d.k :

    * Have NO IDEA what the plants look like or how to grow or harvest them but, if I had any room--would try lentils (very high protein) and flaxseed (protein, efa's, fiber) and peas, probably.

    I grew lentils in the garden many years ago, not for the chickens but because they are used to make one of my favorite soups. They were very "stingy" plants - as in very little production. Then I happened across some acres of lentils and realized that it wasn't just me. Purdue & the University of Minnesota research showed 300 to 1,000 pounds per acre dry farming, 800 to 1600+ lbs on irrigated ground. Even at the very highest-end, growing 3,000 square feet in a LARGE garden and coming up with only 100 pounds (if I did my math right [​IMG] ) doesn't seem very worthwhile.

    I live where a few lentils are grown and quite a few field peas. Purdue shows that field peas are nearly twice as productive as lentils. Both crops are nearly always grown without irrigation but I noticed a farmer not far down the road who had both irrigated and non-irrigated peas last year. It looked like he got substantially more peas off the ground where he ran a sprinkler across it a couple of times.

    Since they are out of the ground early, lentils and peas are often followed by Winter wheat. Beginning to sound like poultry feed, right [​IMG] ??

    With regards to cooking, I've read that some folks use a rice cooker to cook chicken feed. My rice cooker only runs for 20 minutes before switching to "keep warm" cycle. Of course, sprouting would require attention over a few days but no energy use.

    The Manitoba provincial agricultural agency gives advice on feeding whole grain + 25% to 40% protein supplement + a calcium source in a 3-choice feed regimen. You should know that the supplement is specially formulated to compensate not only for the grain's protein deficiencies but for vitamin deficiencies, as well.

    If there was greater variety in the hens' daily rations (as in free ranging), some of these deficiency may not be very pronounced. Perhaps just supplementing with a very high-protein feed, oyster shells, and something like Durvet vitamins would "fill the bill." Don't know, just thinkin' [​IMG] .


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: