Trying to get a firm handle on my long-term feed costs

Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
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My best calculation to date is that I can easily keep my feed cost at $1.34 per head per month, or just under $200 per year for the 12 chickens I currently have. I'll break that down and then if anyone would be so kind as to give me their overall impression of my feed ration and methods and also give me an idea of how that cost compares to what you are doing (and what it is costing you), I would love to hear your feedback.

They are let out on open bahia grass with plenty of areas like hedges and such where bugs congregate. For now they are going out for 2 to 3 hours before sunset while I can keep an eye on them and the hawk situation, but when they are mature they will be out all day (I hope). They are now at 9 weeks old.

They are getting free-choice 18% NatureWise All Flock, having transitioned them from their starter crumbles over the course of about 7 days. They have easy access to plenty of grit in the coop and water both inside and outside of the coop. They will have crushed oyster shell available in the coop when the time comes.

Daily I give them 2 cups of drained fermented feed that is composed of: 1 part wheat bran, 1 part BOSS, 1/2 part whole hemp seed, 1/2 part hemp seed meal (pressed from oil extraction), 2 parts crimped oats (like is fed to horses). To this I have been adding 1/2 tsp of a lacto bacillus supplement designed for birds, but I will be changing to Fertrell Nutri-balancer (regular) when my local supplier gets it in (in the next couple weeks).

On an annual basis this comes out to 25 lbs each of 18% All-Flock ($16 for a 40 lb bag and a total of 7.5 bags per year) and about 10 lbs of the fermented grain concoction per head per year. That's 120 lbs (dry weight) of the grains which I have calculated to be 15.4% protein and 15.1% fat. When I average out the protein and fat content at 2/3rds pellet and 1/3rd fermented grain I get 17.2% protein and 9.1% fat. (Is that too rich in the fat department?)

I'm in Florida, so they will get bugs all year and I intend to supplement further with kitchen vegetable scraps during the winter as I add this to my compost pile during the spring and summer. I've also started a row of 12 comfrey plants near the coop, but that's a side note. They have also been getting freeze dried black soldier fly maggots daily (mixed into the fermented feed at the time of feeding), but I think I'll stop that or attempt to culture them in my compost pit (outdoors)? I don't know if that will work. I have a good stand of red wrigglers going in the compost pit now.

Just tell me if I can explain better or in a different way. First of all, does anyone think I am underfeeding? Or do you think I am overfeeding? I don't want to do either, but I would err on the side of overfeeding at this stage. As a matter of cost only, is $200 annually too much for a flock of 12 chickens? Seems high to me, but maybe not. I am intending to have a total of about 2 dozen chickens in my flock by about this time next year, so $400 is not looking right to me, but I have more experience feeding cattle and on a larger scale, so its hard for me to know by just looking at the figures without some advice. Thanks!
 
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Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
127
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These 12 are Liege Fighters. So safe to say they are on the larger end of large breed. The next additions will be something like Welsummers or Marans. Some sort of large-breed, dual-purpose kind of chicken. Maybe Beilfelders, I just haven't decided yet. I started with 1/4lb per head per day and then divided by 2 for the free range and multiplied that by 75% for the fermented feed. That was the beginning of the calculation. Then I made the pellets 2/3rds of that total ration and the fermented grains 1/3rd. I find its a little difficult to factor in the water weight of the fermented feed into this calculation, but I weighed out each grain by the cup before soaking it to ferment.
 

Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
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I also grind that grain before I ferment it (all except the wheat bran of course) in an attempt to get the most out of it. I am mostly using this to entice them back into the coop at this point, and needless to say they go crazy for it.
 
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Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
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So that would be about 0.2lbs per head per day, but are they free-ranged? I'm considering pasture as a major part of their diet.
 

Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
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Ok, so my calculation comes out to only 0.1lbs per day per head (dry weight of the pellet and grains), so that's half what you are feeding. Mine are gaining well and seem healthy for now, but again, they're only at 9 weeks and I have no idea what they weigh currently, but its not even close to half their full grown weight I'm sure.
 

Digby57

Songster
Jun 21, 2017
127
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I just have this feeling that they will eat more than they need if I am giving them all they can eat all day. I don't want to under feed them, but I know they can and will eat more than necessary if given extra feed.
 
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