Questions on feeding chickens in house (just from food that I produce)

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by igrowgrass, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. igrowgrass

    igrowgrass Out Of The Brooder

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    I am getting a little more serious with my chickens. I've decided that I like them enough to make them a permanent part of the farm. That being said, I do everything on my farm in house. I don't buy any feed for any of my animals. If it can't be grown or raised here from just what comes out of the ground I don't want to have it. I want to be completely 100% sustainable.

    That being said, what can I do to add calcium to my chicken's diet?

    I know that everyone recommends oyster shell, but I don't have any oysters on the farm LOL.

    Are there any foods that I can grow that are high in calcium?

    Is it even necessary?

    The chickens will be pastured using electric netting. They will get to "graze" behind the cows and the sheep. So, hopefully they will find their shares of fly larvae and what not along with whatever other critters there are.

    I am also raising dubia roaches and red wiggler worms. There is going to be no problems with protein.

    I am going to grow an acre or two of reids yellow dent corn. I only plan on using it to get the chickens to go into the "egg mobile" when I need to move them and maybe for a little extra energy on cold nights. I live in Georgia so I don't think that will be an issue really.

    So, any ideas on calcium? With the foods that I have listed above do you think that they will need it?

    I planned on saving all of the egg shells and using them to add calcium back into the diet.

    What about bone meal? There are always plenty of bones left over from cattle and sheep. I might as well put them to use.

    I know that this is a long winded post. Thanks for bearing with me.
     
  2. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    As for oyster shells, just buy them for heaven's sake. They are cheap.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    All your leafy greens are pretty good in calcium. I grow Swiss Chard year round for my flock, but spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, etc are all good sources also. Kale's good for pretty much everything (except taste lol). I'd also do the bone meal--why not?

    I honestly don't know how much calcium a hen needs a day, like in mg. I'd think your diet would provide most of what they need, but you'll just have to go by your egg shells. Thin/weak shells mean they need more calcium. No shells once in a while doesn't necessarily mean they need more calcium, lack of a shell entirely usually just means a glitch in the reproductive system.

    Being in Georgia, growing greens in the winter shouldn't be a problem for you if you need them. I was clearing snow off my Chard after this recent cold spell and have fresh new leaves unfurling!

    Sure you can't grow oysters in a hydroponic system [​IMG] ?
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  4. igrowgrass

    igrowgrass Out Of The Brooder

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    Its not about cheap. I have been fortunate enough in life to make all the money that I need to make, Its about doing things in a way that is sustainable on the land that I have to work with,

    There will come a time, I believe, when money will be worthless and good eggs will be worth their weight in gold.

    I am just trying to find a way for myself, and my family, to be able to produce eggs without going outside of our 162 acres to do it.
     
  5. igrowgrass

    igrowgrass Out Of The Brooder

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    I am laughing along with you on that growing oysters comment, but Im not going to lie. I have two crayfish ponds going in that could be supplying shells and protein to my fleet of chickens LOL. One doors closed. One window opened.
     
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    If you live in Gawja, specially in nawth Gawja those hill should be alive with fossilized oyster shells in the form of limestone rock and even marble which is just another form of limestone that has been rendered pretty by a lot of heat, pressure, and time.
     
  7. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    Just a comment. I am not young. When I was a child I lived for a time with an aunt and uncle on a small farm. They were raising six kids including me. Money was short. Other than flour and sugar they produced just about everything they needed to keep everyone fed. However, they bought a few things. Things that either they couldn't produce or things that were simply more trouble and expense than they were worth to do so. They did buy chicken feed, oyster shells, grain for the milk cows, and garden seeds. Every year they also bought two hundred baby chicks. One hundred each Buff Orpingtons and RIR, straight run. That's about it. It all boils down to cost vs benefit. That said, if I were you I would invest in a good book on animal nutrition (including different classes of poultry) and a book on feedstuffs. One that gives the nutritional content of various products. From there you can figure out what you need to produce to keep your chickens and other livestock healthy. As for oyster shells, you may or may not need them. You can tell that by the density of the eggshells.
     
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  8. igrowgrass

    igrowgrass Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the input Cassie.

    I'm not worried about buying stuff. I can buy all of the stuff that I want. I'm worried that there may come a day where there is no stuff to buy or no place to go to buy it. That is my reasoning behind not buying feed or oyster shell.

    For what its worth none of my cattle eat grain. I don't even know if they would eat it if you put it in front of them. They're never had even a taste of it.

    I'm south of Atlanta. I couldn't deal with those northwest mountain GA winters. Too much like NJ. It took me 33 years to get out of there, and I don't want to be any place that resembles it. Maybe someone that resembled it 30 years ago...but not now.
     
  9. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    My aunt and uncle's farm was near Boise Idaho. The farm was small, maybe ten acres. but it provided most of the family's needs. Most of it was in clover pasture,The time I spoke of was in the late 40's and early 50's. The cows I mentioned were milk cows. Two of the kids milked the cows in the morning before going to school and just before supper in the evening. Another kid strained and separated the milk. The cream went into a can and was picked up by the creamery every few days. The skim milk was fed to us kids, the chickens, and the pigs. Some of the cream was reserved for family use. We got cream on our cereal and we churned butter. The cows were on pasture most of the time but they got hay in the winter. They got grain when they were milked. Uncle Charley had another small farm some distance away where he raised some alfalfa and where he pastured a small herd of beef cattle. He would butcher a steer to feed the family but the rest of the calves were sold. He raised a couple pigs for home use. I don't think he had any sows so he would have bought weaner pigs from somewhere. The pigs went into pork chops, bacon, and sausage. My aunt rendered the fat into lard. They did not have a freezer so meat was kept at the locker. They had a huge garden and they canned the vegetables. There were a few fruit trees and I can remember helping can cherries, pears, plums, and peaches. My aunt also made jam. They bought two hundred straight run baby chicks in the spring. We ate the roosters and my aunt sold eggs. Chicken feed, grain, hog feed, and flour came in sacks with pretty floral prints. My aunt would try to get sacks with matching fabric and the feed and flour sacks were turned into clothing. They kept a few hives of bees. I don't know if the honey was just for home use or if they sold some of it. Any kitchen scraps were fed to the chickens and the pigs. Manure of course was spread on the fields. I just threw this in because I thought you might like to know how folks lived then. We didn't have much, but we never went hungry, either. I do applaud you efforts to be self sufficient.
     
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