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Question about feeding oats, wheat...and how MUCH?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by moenmitz, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. moenmitz

    moenmitz Songster

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    Apr 15, 2008
    I will be taking my 50 laying hens through the winter, and with the cost of feed so high, particularly organic feed, I am eager to save any way I can. The mill where we get our feed has an organic pre-mix-a 60# bag will make 2000 lbs of feed. They said to mix with "ground grain" I have an organic farmer lined up who is out of corn, but can sell me organic oats or wheat at a really good price-but he wants me to purchase a fairly large quantity to make it worth his while of course.

    So, what I need to know is:

    How many pounds of feed would 50 layers gor through in a winter? (this is Iowa, so winter is essentially beginning of November-end of April)

    Is a nutritionally balanced pre-mix, mixed with oats and/or wheat REALLY going to be ok for them? I am somewhat skeptical about there being no corn in their diet.

    Does the wheat/oats need to be ground before feeding, and if so, how fine?

    Thanks so much for any and all help anyone can provide!
     
  2. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    We feed oats and wheat with their layer mash year round and try to add corn only when winter sets in. The digestion of the carbs in the corn helps warm the birds.

    This site is really helpful with mixing your own feeds.

    http://www.lionsgrip.com/recipes.html
     
  3. moenmitz

    moenmitz Songster

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    Apr 15, 2008
    The cold concerns me- it gets really, really, really cold here-20 below zero and colder is not uncommon, and I read that corn helps them stay warm. They are in our drafty old horse barn, which is not insulated. I got cold hardy, heavy breeds, and they will have lots of bedding to snuggle into. I am planning on using heat lamps as needed as well. I am growing some corn to give them-but due to the flooding, I lost a great deal of it. I suppose I probably have 40, 30 foot rows of corn-no idea how many bushels that will equal, not much I suppose. I am hoping I can give them the pre-mix with an oat/wheat mix, and throw in a little corn still on the cob for them to pick at. The pre-mix has all sorts of nice stuff, flax seed, fish meal, etc... I will check that link out next, thanks!

    My folks are giving us a hard time-"we used to just give our chickens table scraps and a little corn, they did just fine...." etc, etc. My mom is convinced I am feeding them too much-they free range from 9 am-7 PM and they get feed only at night! I fill the feeders and let them have at it-usually a bit, not much, feed left in the morning, and I scatter that on the ground outside for them to pick at.
     
  4. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    We can get down to -15° here too, so I understand your concern. We found out after we purchased this farm that we are in the coldest, windiest spot in Ohio. [​IMG]

    Our hen house is a portion of our old (1880's) barn. We used rubber horse stall mats over dirt for flooring, which we cover with wood chips and straw for bedding. During summer, we only have about an inch or two of bedding on the floor.

    We use deep litter in the hen house all winter long, adding an inch or two of straw and wood chips every week beginning in autumn. Turn it once a week and it will help heat the area for the birds.

    Like I said, we save the corn for winter feeding. For the past two years, we dried 12 1/2 dozen and 15 dozen ears of sweet corn for them. We still ending up supplementing with cracked corn from the feed mill. This year our corn got flooded out, so we have been purchasing corn. [​IMG]

    We only insulated the walls with the biggest drafts and the ones by their roosts. Even putting sheet plastic up to block some of the wind helps, if you don't want to or can't afford to insulate the entire barn.

    We put alfafa, clover and timothy hay bales in there for the flock when there is no green showing in the farmyard or pasture. I also have hanging wire baskets that we fill with fresh veggies for them. They have to jump to reach the veggies so it gives them some exercise and helps keep them from getting bored when they are stuck in the barn for days at a time.

    Occasionally, I've used a small space heater in the barn, but that was more for my comfort than their's. [​IMG]

    If you have cold hardy breeds, they should do fine. You could also put some straw bales in the barn along the walls to help block the wind. We found piling snow up on the north side of the barn also helped.

    We have a water pump in the barn and have it wrapped with heat tape, so we have water all winter long. However, we have had to change the water out as much as four times a day when the weather is at its worst. We tried a heated dog bowl for water, but the flock seemed too interested in sitting on the cord, so we removed it. So we use heat lamps in winter. We usually put the waterers in the area of the heat lamps.

    We keep feed out 24/7 for our flock, along with fresh water year round. We keep all the feed in the barn and hen house. I fill up the feeders in the morning and check them at night. Our ladies have found out that if they twirl the feeder often enough, the wingnut underneath flies off and all the feed falls to the floor. [​IMG] We've changed out the nut four times, and are hoping that this new one will hold. If they dump the feed, I don't fill the feeder until the feed has been eaten.

    Purina has a (non-organic) Flock Block, which is kind of like a wild bird seed block, which our flock loves in the winter. It is 8% protein, with corn, wheat, milo, barley, sunflower seeds, oyster shell, grit, vitamins and minerals in it. It is also made with molasses. Between that and the hay, the barn smells great. (At least I think so) [​IMG]

    My folks raised chickens too. Ours are definitely spoiled pets in comparison! [​IMG]

    edited: now if I could just type! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2008
  5. moenmitz

    moenmitz Songster

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Hmmm...I found a corn/math calculator thing, and from my calculations, have determined it takes approximately 162 corn plants (figuring one ear on each) to amke a bushel-thus you had a little over 2 bushels of corn, I estiamte we should have a little more than 3...so right aorund 200 pounds of corn. That aint gonna last long. [​IMG] May I ask how may chickens you were feeding? Trying to find out what the MINIMUM percent of corn in their diet would be allowable. I can buy it bagged from the mill, for twice the price of course.

    Makes me feel better to know you are similarly situated with the barn and your hens did ok-this is our first year with chickens, and they are only 9 weeks now, so we are on a learning curve. The bales around the walls sound like a good solution, as well as the plastic. We only rent our place, so insulating the barn is not a financial undertaking I want to go down-plus, I kind of like it being drafty in summer-lets enough fresh air in that it doesnt get so stinky!
     
  6. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    I should have said in my earlier post that we supplemented with purchased corn the first year. Last year, we seemed okay. We had more corn stored for winter, and while last winter wasn't as harsh as before, it was longer; we had snow in April this year.

    The plastic does help a lot. In a few places, where wood needed replaced, my hubby used empty feed bags to fill the hole and then put plastic up over it. It held all winter and really helped with drafts. We insulate the barn a little at a time, because it is too large, and therefore, too expensive to try to do at once. Where we put up sheet plastic, we used staples and removed the whole sheet when warmer weather kicked in. We just folded up the plastic and put it in the garage for next winter's use.

    I usually dry the majority of the corn because it takes up less space. But we have fed corn on the cob to the flock during late autumn and in winter also. I'd cut the ears into halves or thirds, depending on its size. Each chicken got one piece. They love it, but the pushy birds usually try to hog it all. So we only fed it when we could be with the flock. When it was really cold, I even steamed some and by the time I got it out to the barn, it was cool enough for the flock to eat. (no one is spoiled here) [​IMG]

    We had 20 birds the first winter and 18 last winter. This winter we'll be up to 20 again. Our oldest birds are over 2 years of age, are youngest are 3 weeks. We haven't ever lost a bird to the cold (thankfully) and our Golden Campine roo has a large single comb, still intact. Here is a pic of Sam taken this past spring.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=74649
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2008
  7. moenmitz

    moenmitz Songster

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    Apr 15, 2008
    He's lovely! AND...your pics solved a mystery for us-we have two chickens identical to your Rachel-and had no clue what they were as Mc Murray through in some "bonus chicks" NOW I know they are Partridge Rocks, so THANKS!! [​IMG] We spent some time just last night puzzling over the catalog and trying to determine from drawings what they might be!
     
  8. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Thanks! Our Partridge Plymouth Rock, Rachel, is a McMurray Hatchery bird. We only ordered one of each breed we wanted, so she is our only PPR.

    Rachel has had that simply gorgeous feathering since her first molt. I would have NEVER guessed from the MMH catalogue or from some of the websites I looked at how beautiful she would turn out. Rachel does look like heck when molting, as she seems to drop almost half her feathers all at once. Then in 6 weeks, she's completely refeathered. While molting, she still laid one egg per week. She lays a brown egg that has a mauve tint to it, so I can always tell which one is hers. Rachel is very calm, a great forager, extremely friendly, and great all-around hen.
     
  9. moenmitz

    moenmitz Songster

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Oh, half of our chicks went through a nasty molt too! I had majorly bald chickens a few weeks ago. Now, all but a few are fully feathered, and they just blow us away with how beautiful they are. Dont know what I was thinking, buying pretty birds to eat. NOW I keep telling myself...DUMB WHITE BALD CORNISH are what you eat!! Oh, and the Turkens. That wont be too hard. [​IMG] We are keeping the hens for layers, just the 25 boys will go in the oven in another couple months. And I ordered broilers for the next batch. But still...they are some pretty boys...

    And now I got waaay off topic. Still happy for anyones input on the whole oats/wheat/corn thing....[​IMG]
     

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