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Need Some Advice On Mixing My Own Feed + Grinding

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by fisher39, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. fisher39

    fisher39 In the Brooder

    Jul 12, 2011
    I'm doing a bunch of research about mixing my own feed (I'm doing this to keep it organic and cheap at the same time). I need some advice, though.

    I found an organic supplier not too far from me that sells organic grains, plus cracks and mixes them if people want chicken feed.

    Now, I know there are many opinions on what is the "right" feed, but I need to know the facts. The chicken feed that this guy mixes for his customers is:

    40% Cracked Corn
    25% Whole Soft Red Wheat Berries
    15% Cracked Barley
    20% Cracked Roasted Soybeans

    He says that some people buy it with added nutribalancer and aragonite, though not always. I want to buy the whole ingredients separately and mix them myself to increase shelf life and keep it fresh (and cheaper).

    So here is my 2-part question:

    1) Are the four ingredients listed above typically enough for layers, without the added ingredients of nutribalancer and aragonite? My chickens will be free-range, with lots of pasture, bugs, etc. (They will not be confined to any area, in fact, except for night time.) I know that the roasted soybeans should give them all the protein that they need (I think soybeans are something like 40% protein in themselves). Can I get away with not using the nutribalancer and aragonite? Maybe they can get this stuff from their environment? They may be slightly better off with this stuff, I'm sure, but I'd like to know if they are absolutely necessary.

    2) Can I give them corn, barley, and soybeans without cracking them at all? I found other recipes that don't even call for cracking the barley, for example. Can I give them the whole corn and soybeans? Can it possibly hurt them? I'm not sure how I would go about cracking the soybeans for them because from what I know, oily products (i.e. soybeans) can't be ground with a regular home grinder, as the oil can mess up the grinder.

    Thanks a lot for the help!

    EDIT: http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/1/1-4/Harvey_Ussery.html --> the author of this webpage also seems to notice that aragonite and nutribalancer may not be needed if free-ranged. I'm still not sure about the cracking issue. It seems barley may be ok, but I don't know about soybeans and corn.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens


    do include kelp meal for minerals and a little salt in my mix, but no artificial vitamins. I would definitely offer some form of calcium for your layers, but it can be oyster shells mixed into the feed, which is what I do. I have poor eggshell thickness unless I actually mix it in.

    I cannot tell you whether you have to have the vitamins- only that I believe in whole foods, not artificial vitamins. So that isn't scientific and doesn't answer your question.

    Whole corn will be difficult for bantams to eat...I wouldn't dare offer whole corn to my Nankins and d'Uccles, for example. Mine eat whole oats with no problem (but I have switched to rolled). They also have no problem with whole wheat. Large fowl can eat whole corn with no problem. I have not tried to feed whole soybeans.

    another one


    So if you want to see what I feed, check out my BYC page.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    "Oily grains/nuts such as peanuts and sesame will not hurt this mill, and they will on an impact chamber mill such as the Whisper Mill or Nutrimill."


    I have this mill, but I didn't buy it from the above website. I have never tried to grind oily nuts in it. It works well for hand grinding wheat. Definitely get the Power Bar if you order one. It takes a VERY long time to grind by hand. So I use my kitchen aid attachment for grinding (electric [​IMG]).

    I only mention this in case you are leaning towards self sufficiency and off-grid. It would be incredibly time consuming to do all this by hand for your chickens. Perhaps there is an electric mill that is available that also isn't harmed by oily things.



    a couple of other links
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  4. homesteadapps

    homesteadapps Songster

    Nov 8, 2010
    Soybean meal is usually cheaper then the roasted soybeans.

    You can also use a premix concentrate that will have the protein concentrate + vitamins and minerals.

    Your recipe yields around 17.30% protein here's the
    3.60 = 40 * .090 Cracked Corn
    3.25 = 25 * .130 Whole Soft Red Wheat Berries
    3.25 = 15 * .130 Cracked Barley
    7.20 = 20 * .360 Cracked Roasted Soybeans
    17.30 / 100
    = 17.30% protein

    See this link for calculating


    or use one of the recipes offered by the companies


    Whole grains can be fed depending on the size of the bird. If you are buying the grains from a mill already -- it makes sense to just let them mix it since most mills charge a small fee for mixing.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  5. Erica

    Erica Songster

    Dec 5, 2010
    I gather the nutrient balancer contains artificial vitamins (including artificial methionine to make up for amino acid imbalance in a wheat-soy staple diet) and certain minerals. If you have good soil, an abundance of insects and the droppings of horses to pick through to obtain B vitamins, your birds can do well. If not, depending on breed (small hardy game birds are great survivors), you need to supply extras.

    I would think with the grains/legume you've mentioned, the diet would be very unbalanced unless there is good local insect life and a range of plants. If the birds are high volume layers then you'd also need extra calcium. A lot of calcium can come from grass etc, but for birds laying daily it's a struggle without shell grit. I'd also worry that 15% barley is way too much, as chickens don't have the enzymes to digest barley properly, and it's usually recommended to be cooked (e.g. steamed/rolled).

    I also don't like artificial vitamins, so I don't use the nutrient balancer. Instead I rely on a wide range of grains, soured milk, fresh greens and extra minerals in the form of seaweed meal and shell grit. I feed wheat, corn, peas, sunflower, soy, alfalfa, kefir (soured milk), chopped grass, shell grit, seaweed and salt... But my birds can't get out to roam very often so my feed has to be very close to complete.

    It's a great thing to do but there's some learning involved. I'm only partway there. Hope this is helpful, good luck anyhow.

  6. fisher39

    fisher39 In the Brooder

    Jul 12, 2011
    Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for all your comments, guys!

    ChickensAreSweet: I'll just need to experiment with the whole corn and soybean problem. However, it turns out I was wrong; one of my manual grinders does allow oily foods, so my bad about that. My electric grinder doesn't allow oily foods. If I won't have to grind anything for the chickens, the easier it will be. If they will require grinding, more exercise for me [​IMG]

    homesteadapps: The reason I wanted the roasted soybeans is because I found a good organic grain supplier. He's selling roasted feed-grade soybeans for 50 cents a pound, which isn't bad in my book. I looked around and haven't found ANY organic soybean meal suppliers. Do you know of any? If it's too far from me, though, the shipping will be a killer.

    Looks like I'm right on target with the 17% layer ration! "If you are buying the grains from a mill already -- it makes sense to just let them mix it since most mills charge a small fee for mixing." I talked to the guy about mixing, and while it's cheap, the nutritional content goes down tremendously fast over time. He recommends using it within 3-4 months after buying, and he lives more than 4 hours from me, which is why I want to buy the whole products and store it properly so it can last for years.

    Erica: They will be free ranged. I have 1 acre of grass, plus a ton more of forest and bugs around in a very rural area. Hopefully they'll be ok then.

    Thanks for the help everyone!
  7. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Songster

    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    If you're wanting to feed organic, be careful about the soybean and/or corn. MOST of what's on the market with those are GMO varieties!

  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

  9. fisher39

    fisher39 In the Brooder

    Jul 12, 2011
    Quote:Thanks for the warning. The supplier I'm buying from is actually certified organic, and GMO's are not allowed if certified. The grower personally states "non-GMO seed and USDA Certified Organic by Quality Certification Services".

    If anyone is interested out of curiosity purposes, he's selling (in 50lb bulk sizes):

    roasted feed-grade soybeans: $.50 / lb
    yellow corn feed: $.25 / lb
    soft red wheat feed: $.25 / lb
    unhulled barley feed: $.25 / lb
    fertrell organic nutri-balancer: $1.25 / lb
    aragonite (calcium): $.45 / lb

    He also sells the above cleaned (food grade) generally about $.30 / lb.

    He's located close to Nashville, TN if anyone in the area is interested in picking some up from him. Send me a PM for more details.
  10. Quote:Roasted Soybeans for $1000 per ton? WOW. My supplier is selling his for about $450/ton

    That price for corn is $14/bushel. Current corn price is abotu $7/bushel

    So the organic certification doubles the price of the ingredients. That sure makes it tough on the pocketbook.

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