sweet feed for chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by wendamus, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. wendamus

    wendamus In the Brooder

    Sep 17, 2012
    My feed store charges $8.99 a bag for sweet feed, and $17.99 for chicken feed. Both are %16 protein.

    I'd like nutritional reasons I couldn't sub in some sweet feed. Right now my eggs cost 3x store bought eggs, its not cost effective.

    "Its not appropriate" isn't enough. I have read back threads with vague advice. I would like to see required protein, carb and vitamin content so I can compare with the label.

    My chickens free range over 1/4 avre, and supplement their diet with bugs and stolen garden bits. They're not fat, they get plenty of exercise.
  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    I don't know enough about sweet feed to provide a comprehensive answer, but you would probably you would need to provide enough calcium for strong egg shells. Supplementing with an extra bowl of oyster shell that they can peck at "free choice" would help.

    That does sound pretty expensive for layer feed. I think it is less at Tractor Supply Stores. I pay about $11/40 lb bag or less if on sale (at a different Michigan chain store.)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  3. SillyChicky

    SillyChicky In the Brooder

    Sep 7, 2010
    Feed it! I'd like to have a feed store that has 16% sweet feed for 9 bux a bag! lol

    Sorry, I'm no help but wouldn't have any issue feeding birds sweet feed. Mine loved the odd handful I'd spare them.
  4. IAFarmGirl

    IAFarmGirl Chirping

    Oct 19, 2012
    South Central Iowa
    Compare the tags from the sweet feed & the chicken feed. That way you know exactly what is missing from the sweet feed that you might have to supplement. I can't remember if chickens can tolerate copper? I know sheep cannot but you might want to check into things like that to make sure that larger amounts won't kill the chickens.
  5. zbraswell92

    zbraswell92 Chirping

    Dec 6, 2011
    Roswell, Ga
    Chickens get the offal runs from molasses products! Stinks to the high heavens!
    It's a chicken laxative.
    I would mix maybe 1:4 parts sweet feed to layer feed.
    They'll LOVE it though.
    Do your chickens free range or are they cooped up?
    I treat my 2 girls with All-Grain (Whole Barley, Whole Oats, Cracked Corn, mixed with molasses) and DuMOR scratch.
    Sweet feed does have a lot more fiber than chicken feed does, though.
    They seem to love the sweet molasses flavor. I also give it to my rabbits 1:1, and my ducks 1:4
    Chickens know what they need. It's kinda like an internal regulator. If they need protein, they eat chicken feed and bugs; if they need Ca, they'll eat oyster shell; if they need roughage, they'll eat weeds; and so on.
    It's actually pretty cool!
    I would stay away from Sweet feed myself.
    You can supplement with scratch, lawnmower clippings, and kitchen scraps too.
  6. Kilsharion

    Kilsharion Songster

    Jan 21, 2013
    My Coop
    Um....My organic, non-gmo feed has dry molasses in it and I can state without hesitation that I do not have issues with runny pooh....nor with smell. Of course, I'm over here wishing I was paying $18 for feed. I pay half again as much for a 50# bag.

    Since I cannot see the ingredients nor the nutrient breakdown of the sweet feed, I cannot speak to its efficacy as a full time feed regime for the OP's chickens.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  7. wendamus

    wendamus In the Brooder

    Sep 17, 2012
    This is great stuff, thanks. I'll post both labels and my adventures.
  8. Sweet feed won't have enough amino acids for the chickens. The calcium and phosphorus content will be wrong, and the feed will probably have too much fiber. The molasses isn't the problem, the problem is that sweet feed is made as a "general feed" and won't help the chickens grow properly or efficiently.
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    If that sweet feed is basically scratch mix with some molasses added, then it's not a complete diet for chickens. They'll love it, just like kids love cake, but it doesn't contain all the nutrients a body needs.

    All protein is not the same. Protein is built from a variety of different amino acids. Muscle tissue in animals and various parts of plants don't utilize or contain the same amounts of the various amino acids. This comes up when people talk about amino acid profiles in foods, balanced proteins, complete proteins, etc.

    Two foods can contain the same amount of protein by % and not contain the same amount of various amino acids. When you are feeding a person or a chicken, they need enough of all the various amino acids to build and maintain their bodies, as well as create an egg. They can't substitute extra amino acids of one type that are in a food for the types that are missing or in short supply in a food.

    Some animals have different digestion systems and nutritional needs. What they eat and how they convert it in their bodies is different than chickens and people. Even the animals that eat sweet feed are eating other things, also.

    The things in layer feed that aren't in sweet feed are the additional amino acids that grain is lacking (usually from soy, fish or meat, sometimes individual amino acids also added in) vitamins and minerals, especially higher levels of calcium.
  10. smccuen

    smccuen Songster

    Apr 26, 2012
    Western NC
    some of the threads on this site suggest that fermenting feed makes it go further and makes it more nutritious and that should be a cost-saver

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