How would I make my own feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by AJcantsay, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. AJcantsay

    AJcantsay New Egg

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Hello. This is my first post and I'll be honest I didn't look around too much to see if this topic is already listed somewhere else. I am considering a self-sufficient life of living off the grid. Meaning I would be self contained and produce my own food, electricity and gather rain water. I am still in the research process of figuring out this life style and I want to research having chickens on my farm/homestead.

    Since I would be self contained and not getting (or limited) out side resources I would like to know how to produce my own chicken feed. I had a chicken when I was younger and I remember feeding her cracked corn but after looking around on the site I think maybe we were feeding her wrong? But she lived for like 7 or so years until a Fox finally got her so I don't know.

    If corn is what I would be feeding my chickens then how do I go about it? I would be growing my own vegtables so having corn or lettuce or what not would not be an issue I would just need to know any special things I'd have to do to the vegtable. Also what is the "shelf life" for these things and how should they be stored? Thanks for any and all posts.
     
  2. soctippy

    soctippy Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 22, 2007
    Well lets see- I have toyed with mixing my own feed at the elevator but thats about it. If you are seriously thinking about doing this, I would suggest that you let them roam freerange around your property. I suggest this because chickens know what to eat to get the nutrients that they require. That being said, you should still offer them some form of grain at all times to be sure they are getting enough calories each day, plus then you will have a place that they will all congergate. Another thing you coud do is read this book, its called Stoneys guide to chickens. It has a few chapters on feed and how to feed. Another thing to look into is just how many acres of grain crops it takes to feed 1 chicken for 1 year. I hope this helps some.
     
  3. hoosier

    hoosier Chillin' With My Peeps

    You might consider sunflowers or soybeans for added protein, especially in winter when there aren't any bugs. Storey's Guide to Chickens was a good suggestion.
     
  4. beautifulbirds

    beautifulbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Are you meaning sunflower seeds?
     
  5. AJcantsay

    AJcantsay New Egg

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Well ideally I want to build a coop where the chickens will stay at night to protect them from preditors. I would also like to give them some type of feed to in a sense "lure" them back into the coop area for the night. This would not only protect them but get them to lay their eggs in that area as well (or am I wrong?). But for the most part they would be free range to help control pests in my garden. That's what my child-hood chicken did. Only problem was some times she'd tear up a tomatoe or 2.

    But I am mainly asking this as a winter-resource as I'm not planning on having tons of chickens so I'm sure there will be no shortage of summer bugs.

    So you guys think sunflower seeds and soy beans would be enough nutrients in the winter for them? I know soy beans put nutrients back into the soil so that may actually be a good idea. They'd serve in crop rotation to replentish the soil and feed my chickens. Are there other uses for sun flowers besides just eating the seeds?
     
  6. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Hi,

    I am by no means an expert, but have done TONS of research and have been having some success with feeding no commercial mixed feed to my flock. Free-ranging makes it much easier, as I have almost two acres fenced with a four-foot woven-wire horse fence with lots of grasshoppers, grubs, etc, and full access to the manure/compost pile. I am working towards growing and gathering more of my own feeds. Now I feed whole corn (yes, whole corn) and whole oats, thrown on the ground. I have soybean meal in a hanging feeder, which goes mostly untouched in bug weather. Here in New England, the girls are starting to eat some soymeal on the colder days when there are not enough available insects for protein.

    I also have a hopper with oyster shell, and another with crushed granite for when the snow cover lasts for days or weeks. They only touch it then, preferring to pick up their own stones.

    In the winter, I soak my corn and oats overnight with a splash of whey or cider vinegar to neutralize the phytates, which inhibit proper digestion and nutrients. Not a problem with wild birds, which eat a wider variety of foods, but can be a big issue with confined animals. If/when I have access to a wider variety of foods, I don't bother soaking.

    You can grow your own corn (dent corn or popcorn works well. Popcorn is hard to get off the cobs, though, but is works better for the smaller birds. My guineas can't manage the larger dent corn whole.) You can also try oats, wheat, barley, and buckwheat, depending on where you live. Another grain I haven't tried but will is amaranth, which has a tiny but abundant seed. I did throw some black-eyed peas into the squash patch this year for kicks, and picked the dried pods for the chickens.

    I also had the hubby use the bagger on the lawnmower and spread the clippings on the driveway to dry. I turned and fluffed them every couple hours until very dry and stuffed into burlap feed sacks and stored on shelves for this winter. We use no chemicals on our lawn. I did this because last winter the hens would head straight for the horse's hay first thing when I let them out in the morning, and would quickly clean up the smaller bits, especially any that had soaked in water......So I would make a point of saving the soaked hay from her water tub when I dumped it outside the fence twice a day in the winter, they LOVED that rehydrated grass!

    I gathered and stored pumpkins this fall and plan to dole them out when the snow arrives and buries the pasture grass.

    I planned to use acorns, too, and located the oaks I wanted to gather from....white oaks have sweeter nuts with less tannin, but don't store as long as red oak acorns with their higher tannin content. My plan was to put a few pounds in a feed sack and run over it with my car to crack the nuts, then dole them out for the week. If the tannins made them unpalatable, my plan was to soak in one or two changes of very hot water, and do up enough for the week and store them in the cold garage until needed. But we had a no-acorn fall this year, so I will have to report on that next year.

    They love sunflower seeds, but they are not high enough in protein to fully balance a ration of corn unless you feed a lot. If you have other animals on your homestead, you might have milk to give them, and you can cook up some of the slaughter waste that you might not like. My father found a butcher who will give him, for free, some parts that many people don't want, such as beef hearts, liver, and tongue. He and my mother love that stuff (YUK!) but he still has some trimmings to cook up for the chickies. With plenty of that stuff for the winter months, you can get away with feeding lower protein grains. If you have an iron stomach, you can cook up the lungs, kidneys, etc. I don't. I will never forget that pot on the woodstove with beef lungs cooking for the dog when I was a teenager. They would fill with steam and inflate, then deflate, like they were breathing! Yeesh!

    I feel that feeding as large a variety of foods as possible will keep your chickens from missing out on nutrients that they would find by themselves if they could. I found an article online (Google search) that showed a much lower incidence of disease in flocks on whole grains. Also, although the eggs were fewer, they were slightly larger, so it evened out.

    Even though I buy most of my grains now, it is almost impossible for things like melamine to be hidden in whole corn, oats, wheat and barley! I know exactly what the quality is by simply looking and sniffing as I dump the sacks into the barrels I store them in.

    It was a bad year here for gardens, so my kale was pathetic, but I will try again, as kale stays nice under the snow in winter and can be picked for the girls for quite a while.

    I would love to hear from others who grow or gather whole foods for their flock. I'd also like to know if anyone has done this with turkeys. I'll be trying it myself next summer, so tips are appreciated!
     
  7. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    A good place to start is: type in chicken feed and scroll down to chicken feed main memu. It will give you many choices to chose from.
     
  8. cherig22

    cherig22 Green Fields Farm

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    Sep 2, 2008
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    Great post, Free. You gave a lot of good info.

    I use cracked corn instead, in my mind more will be available to be digested.

    Thank you!

    Cheri
     
  9. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Cherig, I do use cracked corn as well, for the guinea's sake. But I throw down the whole corn first, and when the chickens are full, I then toss some for the guineas. Grain starts to lose nutrients and go rancid the moment it is ground or cracked, so more bang for your buck if you can feed whole grains or grind your own daily (too much work, in my world! Let the gizzards do the grinding, that is what they were designed for!)

    I just started grinding whole wheat for flour in my Vitamix, and let me tell you, it barely resembles the flour you can buy in the store, even places like Whole Foods. It may look the same, but one sniff will tell you just how rancid grains get when ground, even higher quality stuff. I made pizza, biscuits, lasagna noodles, and cornbread (borrowed corn from the feed sack for that!) and now I know how people I considered "hardcore" can do it. It is absolutely delicious fresh.

    Same for my chickies, especially since it is less work! However, if your chickens have been eating mash, pellets, or ground grains, take about three weeks to switch them over. Their gizzards are a muscle, and need time to adjust. If they are confined, they must have access to rock grit. Some feedstores label oyster shell as grit, hopefully everyone reading this knows the difference.

    Chickens are so much fun! As is freedom from the food giants. I make all my own dog and cat food, too. Easier than you think, once you have a system going. Fewer health problems, too. Got my cats off prescription diets, and my vet asked me to lecture to her clients and consult with individuals wanting to do the same. The food giants are money making machines, and freely dole out mountains of misinformation. Oh-oh, I'm ranting again.....I'll stop now!
     
  10. beautifulbirds

    beautifulbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Freemotion
    if you don't mind me asking, how do you make your own cat and dog food please?
    Thanks
    Lisa.
     

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