Holy Cow. How did our ancestors do it? (Mixing own feed)

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Sweetbliss, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Sweetbliss

    Sweetbliss Out Of The Brooder

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    I just finished reading what seemed to be a bajillion mix-your-own-chicken-feed recipes and rules. Ingredients range from black sunflower seeds to a bunch of other things that I would feel very UN-self-sufficient if I had to hunt it all down at specialty mills, etc. Does it REALLY need to be that complicated?

    I have read that our ancestors often free-ranged their chickens, fed them extra random grains from their own supplies (and kitchen scraps), and crushed up egg shells and put them in the feed for extra calcium. If many of our ancestors and their chickens survived well with these types of simplified methods, why can't we? Have chickens changed so much over the last several decades?
     
  2. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You certainly can and I'm almost certain (I haven't tried it personally) that they would survive. However, just like people chickens respond to the food they eat. We eat alot of sweets we get fat and have diabetes and our overall health isn't good.

    Chickens have certain nutrition that increases they rate of lay and their overall health would be better.

    I do not believe you have to feed only commercial feed or many will tell you only feed them a certain commercial feed.

    The recipes you see are people trying to make sure their chickens have the best nutrition to be healthy and productive.
     
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    If many of our ancestors and their chickens survived well with these types of simplified methods, why can't we? Have chickens changed so much over the last several decades?

    Chickens haven't changed at all.
    People often get carried away with feeding them "the best" mix, when they can survive quite well on a lot less.
    Our ancestors fed them whatever was available, and didn't spend a lot of time agonizing over it.​
     
  4. mommyofthreewithchicks

    mommyofthreewithchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Chickens haven't changed at all.
    People often get carried away with feeding them "the best" mix, when they can survive quite well on a lot less.
    Our ancestors fed them whatever was available, and didn't spend a lot of time agonizing over it.

    Adding to this my great grandpa had cows and horses and the chickens dug through their poo to get the undigested corn and scratched around for any spilled food or grain around the farm.

    But if you are like me and can't free range due to loss I feed mine feed at the mill and then any scraps from the table I treat as treats. Mine get plenty of grass clippings and I had someone bail my grass field this summer so I throw it in for bedding but since most of it is gone after a few days they are also eating this.

    (when I free ranged I went from a flock of thirty to fifteen in a month, found out I have a nice Big owl for anyone who didn't make it indoors on time and a family of hawks circling the farm to catch anyone in the day. Also had a dog come onto our property and catch two)
     
  5. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Chickens haven't changed at all.
    People often get carried away with feeding them "the best" mix, when they can survive quite well on a lot less.
    Our ancestors fed them whatever was available, and didn't spend a lot of time agonizing over it.

    I agree with Bear. Corn picking time, they probably got corn. Wheat mowing time, wheat etc.
     
  6. JohnHenry

    JohnHenry Out Of The Brooder

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    I also think providing them a balanced diet with plenty fresh water has made them more productive then our grand parents. My farther in law frew up on a farm and he didn't get anywhere as many eggs per hen as I do. Right through summer and winter.
     
  7. fowlsessed

    fowlsessed Chillin' With My Peeps

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    they certainly can survive, and thrive, on simple feed. Mine just got scratch feed, which is basically just corn and they also got kitchen scraps. They were free ranged of coarse, over 100 acres of mixed fields and wooded land (although they used no more than 10 acres of that space). I think it also depends allot on the breed. Also, you probably aren't going to get the same rate of growth and egg production. If you are looking for REALLY fast growing birds and ALLOT of eggs than your going to need to feed them the store bought or highly complicated feeds. ALLOT and REALLY FAST are the key words here, you will still get eggs and your chickens are still going to grow and be able to be used for meat, but just at a slower rate.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  8. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can see in my mind's eye my grandmother mixing "feed" for her flock. She sold eggs at the town fair in Ballinasloe every week. She had this huge white enamel steel pan, bigger than a garbage can lid around. Into that went potato peelings (they were boiled then skinned), sweepings from around the grain bin for the calves, soured milk, whey, mashed eggshells, and stale bread and then THE SECRET INGREDIENT...stinging nettle. She would reach in and grab great fistfuls of the stuff and mash it up into the mix.

    She said if you grasp it firmly it doesn't sting. I've since confirmed this is true!

    And no, I don't use her recipe
     
  9. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I always like to strike a medium balance between best nutrition and sanity. Chickens nor humans have biologically changed from our grandpappy's days, but nutrition has an undeniably large impact on organisms.

    It's why tall guys were 5'10 back then, whereas tall guys today are 6'7.
     
  10. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I used to have the same idea, that raising chickens through many centuries must have been successful, so - the old way must be good enough. I think it may be true but only if the type of chicken that you have and your expectation for their production is about the same as our ancestors.

    There was no laying hen in the US that could produce 300 eggs in a year, before 1913. That laying hen was a result of not only a careful breeding program but also a good deal of attention to the nutritional requirements of a high-production laying hen. James Dryden put these 2 important things together at what is now Oregon State University. Professor Dryden also had the first 1,000 egg/lifetime hen.

    These were important accomplishments 100 years ago. James Dryden is the only poultry scientist in the National Agricultural Hall of Fame. Even now, the average production layer only kicks out about 260 eggs each year. After his work in Oregon, Dryden went on to be a pioneer in California's poultry industry.

    The hen in the 19th century wasn't laying any 300 eggs in a year. It wasn't laying 260 eggs in a year. My guess is that people weren't counting on the hen to lay many eggs but rather brood several clutches to produce some chicks. If that is what you want for your hen, it probably would be very unwise to buy Sex-links or the modern Leghorn-type pullets. Feeding some of the heritage breeds could likely be much the same as what some people have described here - grain and free-range, preferably where the birds can clean up after other livestock.

    If you'd like to know more about James Dryden's work with poultry feed 100 years ago, you can download his short book "Feeding for Eggs" from the OSU library website (click).

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011

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