Topic of the Week - "Off-grid" Feeding - Homemade feeds, etc.

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
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Tipperary, Ireland
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Pic by @theoldchick
Due to lack of availability of feed at times, or out of choice, some chicken keepers feed their flocks on alternatives to regular, formulated poultry feeds. Be it homemade feed mixes, or whatever is on hand at the time, this week I would like to hear you all's thoughts and practices on feeding the flock "off-grid". Specifically:

- Suggestions for short-term alternatives to regular feed
- Homemade feed recipes, flock blocks, etc
- Calculating and providing adequate nutrition in homemade feeds
- Feeding through different ages, feeding laying hens, etc.


For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 

BantyChooks

Pullarius
Project manager
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Aug 1, 2015
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Free ranging is what I would have thought more 'Homesteaders" do so their feed Bill is tiny. Well, compared to city folk-stuck in a run all the time- chickens.
I free range my flock of ~45 to 50 all summer. I still go through about 60--70lbs lbs of feed per week.

Good topic, sumi! I don't know anything about proper nutrition for mixes, but I have used cracked corn in place of feed when I didn't have a single other thing to give them and I wasn't going into town due to being sick. They survived, lol.

Here's a link to a PDF with a link about feeding non-processed food.
http://www.exhibitionpoultry.net/images/ep_2-8.pdf
 
Last edited:

jeffnolan

In the Brooder
Jun 22, 2016
8
33
42
Yes, chickens will eat anything but they require a source of protein. I don’t have a problem with feed availability in my area, but I do feed my chickens a steady source of vegetables, dairy products (cheese), carbs, starches, and left over meat. They will eat everything from old deli meat to shredded chicken. As long as it is cooked and can be picked at, they eat any meat I give them.

The advantage of feeding them from you kitchen is that food which would otherwise go to waste gets used and your feed bill (processed feed is expensive) comes down. My hens are healthy, active, and strong egg layers even through the winter months. We get a lot of sun in my area but even when the temps drop, they still lay eggs. The extra protein also really helps when they are moulting.
 

1cock2hens

Crowing
Jul 2, 2015
2,434
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My tiny house in Powell Missouri
the govt has brainwashed people when it comes to protein sources. I'm vegan and people always ask me where I get protein and calcium and i say the same place as you, from my food. for example 6 cups of spinach has the same amount of protein as an egg.. here is a small list of grams of protein per cup of different veggies for an example // http://www.theholykale.com/plant-based-protein-chart/
 

chicknmania

Crowing
12 Years
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Jan 26, 2007
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central Ohio
I free range my flock of ~45 to 50 all summer. I still go through about 60--100lbs lbs of feed per week.

Good topic, sumi! I don't know anything about proper nutrition for mixes, but I have used cracked corn in place of feed when I didn't have a single other thing to give them and I wasn't going into town due to being sick. They survived, lol.

Here's a link to a PDF with a link about feeding non-processed food.
http://www.exhibitionpoultry.net/images/ep_2-8.pdf
That seems like a huge amount of feed for a free range flock of 50 birds. We have 34 birds including four peafowl, and we go through 100 lbs of feed about every two and a half to three weeks. Maybe something else is eating your feed?
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Premium member
Mar 11, 2017
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South Park, Colorado, USA
On my to do list is to make my own feed. When I bought my pullets last spring from an organic chicken farmer, he mixed all his own feed. He had a lot of chickens though and buying seeds/grains in bulk was practical for him. He also sold bags/buckets of this feed to locals and other customers like myself who were buying birds from him which I'm sure helps offset the cost. Many will argue the benefits of formulated and processed pellets, but I liked the look of whole grain feed. When you buy wild bird feed it's seeds. When you buy parrot or parakeet feed it's seeds. I try not to eat highly processed foods myself, why would I feed them to my chickens? (ok ok, I know why people do, but I also don't see why a whole grain/seed diet with fruits and veggies can't be sufficient) One of the things I liked about the seed feed I'd purchased from the organic farmer was it's versatility. I could feed it as is, I could ferment it, I could sprout it, and I could grow fodder from it. The same feed provided some sort of variety, and spilled seed in the run if not found right away did not seem to mold, but to sprout and the chickens would be thrilled to find the green shoots later. I have found many recipes online, some are more complex than others with more ingredients to source, and I do not live somewhere I source these ingredients without purchasing online. To get good prices on grains you must buy in bulk, the more you buy, the better the price, however, the higher the weight the higher the shipping. I have yet to find a formula that prices out close to that of a commercial pellet, however it seems you can mix organic feed that would be cheaper than say Scratch and Peck, but more expensive than something like Purina Flock Raiser. Garden Betty offers a nutrition calculator, Metzer has a calculator on their website, and Storey's Guide suggests using Pearson's Square, however with the www I like to think there are others out there who have crunched the numbers. I'm probably going to give one of the recipes on here a try this summer. Hopefully others have done the nutrition math and will share some recipes in this thread and I can order some seeds!

https://www.gardenbetty.com/homemade-whole-grain-chicken-feed-updated-and-now-corn-free/
 

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