Using whole grains to avoid commercial feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Wolf-Kim, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The local farmers sell whole corn, oats, barley and soybeans. They sell them much, much cheaper than the feedstores, I suppose because you are not bagging the feed in fancy bags and paying a middle-man to stand behind a cash register.

    Could a make a mixture of some of these to make a chicken feed? Commercial feeds are conveniant, but what is really in them, that you can't get on the farm. Besides all the fillers and stuff the animals don't need but your paying for by pound anyway..

    Let me hear your opinion on this and input.

    -Kim
     
  2. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Some essential vitamins and minerals might be missing from the homemade feed.
     
  3. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed ours corn, oats and sunflower seeds all the time, in addition to layer pellets, table scraps and all the bugs they catch. They seem to be doing well. I don't think I'd eliminate pellets altogether, but don't see a problem with supplements and substitutions.
     
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is a link that you may find helpful. It is on "choice feeding" by a poultry specialist with the Manitoba Provincial agriculture agency. He says:

    "You do not need to grind the whole grain when you choice-feed your hens. The birds will readily eat whole wheat, whole oats or whole barley (but they can have difficulty eating whole corn). After about three weeks of eating whole grain, the hens' gizzards will increase in muscle mass and will grind the grain as efficiently as a hammer mill. Hens can successfully consume 70% of their diet as whole grain when it is choice-fed."

    To follow this approach to feeding, you'll need to supplement with high protein and account for vitamins. Calcium can come from limestone or oyster shells and protein could probably be of animal origin like meat scraps or fish meal. (Soybeans must be heat processed.) The vitamin needs must be met. Note that the Manitoba guy is talking about the custom formulation of a supplement.

    Steve
     
  5. nmred

    nmred Out Of The Brooder

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  6. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone! I'll have to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a library session online. I would hope to eliminate pellets completely if not make their need miniscule at best.

    I would like to do the same thing with my dog food.

    It just irritates me to no end, to hand over about $20 for every bag of feed I buy, regardless of what animal, and then read the label and most of the stuff in the bag is filler. Ya know what I mean? Next time you buy a bag of dog chow, take a glance over the label and ask "How much of this stuff does my dog's body actually use?"

    I got to really pondering this situation while I was learning about the Onagadori, the nonmolting longtail fowl. Onagadori are not fed commercial chicken feed after 6 months of age, but a diet of fish, vegetables, and fruit. By feeding this special diet, they actually eat(and poop) a lot less(because the body uses a lot more of the food).

    Sounds silly, I know, but it has really been bugging me lately thinking that I'm just feeding(and paying for) stuff that I'm just going to step on it the yard the next day.

    LOL. Sorry for the rant. I really do appreciate everyone's input and help!

    -Kim
     
  7. PAJerry

    PAJerry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am also very interested in using whole grains to feed my girls, along with a lot of greens and left over fruits and veggies from our large garden. Highly processed foods are not really good for people so they are probably not great for chickens either. I believe that we might tend to get too hung up on 'vitamins and minerals' in the way of supplements when these can actually be provided in a more natural way with whole grains and greens. One item I believe in for good nutrition is kelp. It contains almost every vitamin and mineral there is, and I have been adding it to my girls' feed from day one.

    I think that a lot of the information you get relates to getting the maximum egg or meat production, in which case you might want to push a higher level of nutrition for the intended result, but most of us here are hopefully more concerned with the general health and well-being of our flocks. A more natural approach might not yield record-setting egg production but should result in healthier birds and healthier eggs.
     
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Quote:Well, I would say you are both likely to be right but that's just 2 cents from a nonanimal nutritionist.

    Quote:I remember Ussery responding to one letter writer who was attempting to take him to task for experimenting with his chicken's diets while she wrote about her own, personal diet preferences. (We all have ideas about good and bad food to put on our own plates. [​IMG]) Ussery responded that it didn't seem to make a lot of sense to be willing to experiment with our own diets but not with our chickens.

    I'm not an animal nutritionist but I'm very inclined to believe that chickens have fairly similar dietary requirements to another omnivore in our midst - people. (No doubt, there are those who are thinking right at this moment that this indicates my ignorance rather than any enlightenment. [​IMG])

    I gave up on taking vitamin and mineral supplements years ago and try hard to put healthful food on my own plate. Plenty of fruits and vegetables we hear again and again from our human nutrition experts. I realize that a hen's egg is 13% protein so her diet MUST reflect the expectation WE have for her egg production. I realize that the shell represents about 3 grams of calcium. Further, she can't utilize all the crude nutrients in her diet and she must use some of the good stuff for her own maintenance, not just for egg production.

    I'm going to try to keep her happy, healthy and productive but I'm not going to do that entirely by becoming dependent on the livestock feed industry [​IMG].

    Steve
    edited to say: I don't mean to suggest that I'm not an animal . . . I'm just not a nutritionist . . . [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  9. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Today I dumped two boxes of breakfast cereal in the coop, and the girls were mildly interested at best. Then I scattered some oats and sunflower seeds, which they devoured with their usual enthusiasm.

    Maybe their instincts about food are better than we give them credit for.
     
  10. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Have you ever heard of the "BARF" diet? Raw veggies, yogurt, fruit and chicken (raw), its for dogs, cats and not sure what else. I have a friend that used that on a dog that had cancer, it really helped quality of life. She has another wiemeriner (gosh, that spelling is horrible) dog and has put him on that diet, he stays thin, fit and pretty lively.
    If you don't want to feed all layer pellets, why not give them the whole grains to help supplement their diet. I give the girls fruits, veggies, meat (cooked), and also grass. I let them out for a few hours a day to forage for bugs, grubs, worms and all the exercise they need after they paid for their kibble (lay eggs).
    Good luck.
     

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