My Soy Free Feed Meaties Expirience

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by bigredfeather, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,194
    29
    211
    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    This past Summer I decided to do a small batch (50) of Cornish X’s on a soy free ration to see how it went. I had a few of my customers request it, and my DW was also interested. I had a thread started, but never really got back to finishing up with all the details, so I am going to finish it up here.
    When I first looked into finding a ration that was soy-free, my mill had several to offer. I decided to go with one that was 19% protein. Soy bean meal is very high in crude protein, so without it, it is difficult to get the protein level up any higher without it. Ingredients with protein included corn, alfalfa meal, distiller's grain, fish meal, linseed meal, and Canadian peas. I bought enough of these ingredients to make an 800 pound batch of feed. My plan was to feed that until it was gone then process. In addition to this feed, I regularly gave them some excess raw goat milk Kefir mixed with their feed to give them an additional boost.
    First big difference I noticed was the smell of their dropping, or there lack of. After being in the brooder for 2 weeks without adding any new bedding, there was absolutely no smell. I could hardly believe it. During their first three weeks in the brooder, I couldn’t tell much difference in the growth rate compared to their soy fed counterparts. At three weeks I moved them out to the pasture in the tractor. As the weeks went on, I cold tell their rate of growth was slowing. At 7 weeks they seemed noticeably smaller than they should have been. These guys where the most active bunch of broilers I had ever seen. When I move the tractor, they would instantly rush to the front to be the first to start eating the new ground in front of them. One day my daughter accidentally left the door on the tractor open and they all got out. We had a heck of time catching them. Typically you can chase them for a few feet and give up and are easily caught. Not these guys. It took near an hour to get them all rounded back up. I always move the tractor and then feed them. At times, some of them would pass up the replenished feeder and go about the tractor nipping the white clover flowers. Unlike most broilers, they wouldn’t plop themselves down in front of the feeder on their butts and eat till their crop was about to explode. Instead, most times all but one or 2 of them would be on their feet, bending down to eat. The amount of water they drank was quite puzzling as well. Like I said, I did these in July and August and it was hot. Some days they would drink only a gallon of water. At the same age, 10 gallons isn’t enough for 50 of them on a soy based diet. It was really amazing how much different they acted.
    After 8 ½ weeks, my 800 pounds of feed was running low, so I decided to go ahead and butcher. I hadn’t lost a single one after the first day. The biggest one was 4 pounds dressed, and there was only a handful of them. The average was about 2 ¾ pounds. In doing the math, it took them 6 pounds of feed to convert into 1 pound of dressed meat. About double of a soy based bird. The feed was only about 5 cents a pound more than regular feed, but it took twice as much, so they were a bit expensive to raise. We sold some of them @ $3/pound, and in doing so, it only cost us about 18 cents/pound for the ones we kept. I will say the meat tasted different and had a much finer texture. The fish meal in the ration gave the skin a slight fish taste, which I didn’t care for.
    Some things I wonder about: I had to buy the ingredients and mix it myself. I didn’t have a good way to mix it all at once, so I did it in batches, taking an educated guess on how much of each ingredient to put in per batch. Did it make a difference? Could have I guess. Also, I wonder if giving them the Kefir had anything to do with their growth rate. If I do it again, I will have the mill mix it for me to eliminate that factor. I would have to have quite a few requests from customers to justify doing another batch to sell. I felt bad selling such small birds. I would however consider doing it again for my family.

    Here is the link to my origianl post:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=371929
     
  2. eggbuster

    eggbuster Chillin' With My Peeps

    171
    3
    101
    Apr 1, 2010
    I find this interesting. I also, raised 50 Cx this summer soy free. I found them to be quite agreeable, clean not stinky, well feathered and active. I didn't lose a single one. At 9 weeks they were 4 to 6.5 lbs dressed wt. Most were around 5. I fed my own mix of wheat, boss, peas, corn with clabbered raw milk and free range. They don't free range as far as a buckeye or chantecler, but that is ok. They tasted quite nice for a young chicken.

    Mine, like yours do not hang around the feeders; they prefer to go scrounging. I am thinking that whole grains keep chickens from over eating. It is tricky getting chickens to eat peas, but I make them clean up for at least a day before putting in new feed. I try to keep the protein between 20-24% in hopes they actually ingest enough in-spite of themselves.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by