Need formula advice for heritage chicken feed


13 Years
Jan 26, 2010
Guinda CA
I am a breeder of heritage chickens, free ranged on pasture, and have been researching feed.

I can't find a feed that is exactly what I am looking for, so I decided to try to mix my own feed. I ordered fish meal & Nutri-Balancer from Fertrell.

My biggest problem with finding the right feed for my flock is that, according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, heritage chickens need a ration containing 28% protein for the first 16-18 weeks of age , and for adult birds, the feed protein level can be backed off to 18-20%.
In addition, breeding birds need additional calcium, sufficient vitamins and minerals to ensure high fertility and hatchability of eggs.

To complicate this even more, many of my egg & meat customers now want corn & soy free fed products.

I've found it impossible to find a feed that meets all this criteria, that is why I am trying to mix my own feed.

I can't find all the ingredients for the listed rations on the Fertrell site, so am trying to use this general formula for home mixes and adjust it:

Can peanuts, sunflower & safflower seeds be substituted for soybean meal?

How much fish meal should be used to increase the protein to the 18-20% and 28% levels?

The Nutri-Balancer directions calls for additional Calcium. Can that be offered as free choice oyster shell or should it be mixed into the feed?

I would appreciate any advice from breeders of heritage chickens or people that understand poultry nutrition better than I do.

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When figuring on increasing vitamins, protein, anything... here's what you do....
This is just an example...

Total pounds of finished feed = 100lbs
You want say 30% protein (again, example only here)

30% of 100 = 30lbs of pure protein

If food X has 50% protein in it, that means that I need to multiply 30lbs x 2 (50% x 2 = 100% of the 30lbs will be protein) = need to add a total of 60lbs of feed to get my 30% protein.

if X had only 20% protein in it, 20 goes into 100% 5 times, so I'd multiply 30lbs by 5... oops, that won't ever give you 30% in 100 lbs because what you're adding is too low in protein to move any protein beyond the 20% it contains.

The same goes for vitamins and minerals.
If they will be used for meat or eggs:

In my experience I have purchased meat from a farm that was feeding fish meal, and it was the worst meat I have ever tasted. It was VERY fishy tasting. I couldn't eat it.

I think this only occurs when feeding above a certain percentage of fish meal to other ingredients.

I don't know much more about it, just wanted to make you aware if you weren't already
OMG I am an idiot when it comes to math. I reread that multiple times and still can't figure it out.

I'm also adding multiple sources of protein- fish meal + possibly peanuts, sunflower seeds & peas. And even the grains have a certain level of protein. So, do I add up all those levels of protein?

Drpeeps2014 is right about limiting the fish meal to avoid the bad taste. I have to check what the maximum recommended levels are.

Thank you both,
I just spent about a minute doing an excel spreadsheet to figure the resulting percentage protein of a feed using three different feed inputs. Not sure how I can explain or to upload it here...

I can try if anybody wants to know but I'm not sure I can make somebody without a passing knowledge of excel or high school algebra understand.
I guess that I'm out of luck since I'm a Mac person and my HS algebra teacher had me drop the class instead of helping me when I asked, because, according to him, " You'll never need to know this."

Any chance that you could tell me your results if I give you my list of ingredients and their protein levels?

Post your list of ingredients here with the protein content of each. List them in order of most expensive to least expensive per pound. Should be interesting to compare results.
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Search Backyard Poultry magazine for Harvey Ussery's calculators. They are readily available & you can download & use them. You can plug in other values besides what he has on his sheets if you know the protein %. They are for calculating 100 lbs. at a time & work great.
Here is a rough draft of the ingredients that I am thinking of using in my feed. Protein (CP) levels were difficult to find info on and varied. I'm still researching cost- it seems very expensive!
I still need to figure out how much of each ingredient to use, the amounts listed are estimates from UC Davis's formula, which doesn't have the amount of protein that I need for the heritage breeds.

SAMPLE FORMULA for 100 lbs feed

46-50 lbs grain:
wheat 12-14% CP
oat groats 12.3% CP
flax 23-26% CP
white millet 11.6% CP

17 lbs. rice bran 13% CP

16-30 lbs. protein meal:
peanuts, 8g protein per 30 g
Canadian peas, 23-24% CP
sunflower seed 17-21 % CP (for meal)

5 lbs. fish meal 60% protein

4 lbs. alfalfa pellets 15% CP

3 lbs. Nutri-Balancer
For info on this and the fish meal:

formula also calls for yeast, mineral salt, bone meal & oyster shell. I offer oyster shell free choice. I think that the yeast, mineral salt & bone meal are not needed, due to the Nutri-Balancer.

Thanks for all the comments so far!

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