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What if?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LoneCowboy, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I'm not into organics or all that, but I am into being prepared. So my question is, if feed is suddenly unavailable or way to expensive, how do I feed my chickens a balanced diet with what I have around the house. Ok, I admit, that I store wheat, oats etc. but not everybody does, and I think this would be a good topic for all of us right now to figure out what we'll do in an emergency to feed our animals and figure out what we need to start producing to be prepared. I want to be ready to handle whatever comes up and I don't know where to start.
  2. spottedtail

    spottedtail Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2007
    I think most people would cut down on flock size if feed prices go too high.

  3. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    *One possibility is to start finding out what weeds/plants grow around you that are nutritious or have nutritious parts. Dandelion, the bane of the lawn fanatic's existance is marvelous nutritionally and fairly easy to cultivate, for just one example.
  4. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    This is a great thread to talk about. I've thought the same thing (like yesterday when I went to buy more feed and found the prices had gone up ... again!) and would be even more concerned if I lived in town. At least here I could always let my chickens free range (we have 40 acres) but in town ... what would you do?

    Storing grain works only for a relatively short period of time. It has to be stored at the right temperature (if it gets to hot and/or humid it can mold), you have to be able to keep rodents out. I keep all my feed in an old chest freezer (it doesn't work) in the barn. Nothing can get in it but the temps sure aren't stable.

    In the past we've stored grain in buckets with those little packets that keep the moisture controlled. They've worked great but again, how long can you store it before the grain goes bad?

    Being able to grow a garden with specific plants for your livestock is a good idea ... IF... you have the space for a garden and it' s not winter.
  5. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Wheat will store 20+ years in those plastic buckets with the oxygen eliminator packets. Plus it keeps all the bugs and such out because they can't survive without oxygen. I can get you dates for other grains if you like. I think I have them in a book here close.

    Let's say feed for your chickens is not available and won't be for a long time. You don't want to thin your flock because you might need them to supply you with food. I hate to play doomsday person, but I like to be prepared. Like right now there is a ecoli scare with tomatos nationally. What if it gets to the point that we can't trust our food sources and we have to rely on what we can produce. You won't want to thin your flock then. I personally want to know this info so I can start working on not relying on commerical food sources even if there isn't an emergency. I just want to know (whether I do it or not) that I could if I had to meet the needs of my flock. If I knew what would be a good total diet for them, then that's what I'd start growing in my garden and such. So I would know I'd know how to grow it if I needed too.

    I hope that makes sense. I just want to know that I could be self sufficient if I had to. But, I don't know what would make up a good ration for the chooks
  6. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Well, I'm with you totally on this thought of being as self sufficient as possible. I think it's so wise to plan for the potential of things crashing but not getting worried about it. That is one of the reasons we moved to the country; have a garden, chickens and potential milk goats. I also have a draft horse that I can pull a cart with and do chores around here with if needed. The way gas prices are going ... we'll be riding our horses into town just for groceries.
  7. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    It isn't quite what you are talking about but I'm a little dismayed at some folks' tendency for "just-in-time" purchasing. The inventory in their pantry (whether for the home or the livestock) amounts to little or nothing. These people make daily trips to the store or, they are like my college-age daughter and make a couple trips to stores and restaurants, daily :eek:! (My thirty-something son can be forgiven. He works in a retail food store. [​IMG])

    What can the "carrying costs" be for a can or box of something-or-other in the kitchen?? It isn't as tho' it has a shelf life that is measured in hours.

    It's true with livestock feed as well. You can get thru a brief shortage without trouble if you ALWAYS have a 4 week supply on-hand. That doesn't require much foresight - just "rotate your stock" of feed and make the purchases.

    The shelf life of processed livestock feed in reasonable storage is at least a month. If you have reason to be concerned about shortages - Bank It and Replenish [​IMG].

  8. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I agree Steve. Two years ago we had a huge winter snow storm. We had about four days advance notice that it was coming through the weather service. We ended up being snowbound for five days - nobody could get in or out. Some places were snowbound for over two weeks!

    It amazed me how many people said that it was so terrible, not because they had no electricity (only a couple of areas lost power) but because they ran out of groceries!! I was shocked ... people were talking about this incoming storm for days and yet some people just didn't bother to go stock up. They knew it was coming but couldn't get out of their 'going to the store everyday' rut!

    We knew that moving to the country would mean that we would almost certainly lose power at times (we do several times a year). Before we even moved we bought a generator and Aladdin lamps and a supply of candles. My husband retro'd our country house to have the main "needs" run off the generator. Thus, we still have water (including in the barn for the animals), our frig/freezers and a couple of rooms with lights.

    Back to LoneCowboy's original question. I have heard many times that chicken feed is only good for about a month? Is that true... if so, how do you store up chicken feed? Since you really can't then - back to that question: what can you store up or have around your property to keep your animals fed? Not just chickens ... all your animals?

    I've kept 50 lb. bags of dog and cat feed in my barn freezer (not working) for up to eight months before and it was just fine. But, what happens after that eight months when it's all gone?
  9. S0rcy

    S0rcy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have heard of many people free-ranging the flock and then just giving them scraps. The chickens did perfectly well. I have heard of neighbors offering up scraps for others chickens, and people sharing the cost of a communal flock with scraps tossed in from everyones home.

    Being more of a scientific person, my approach is to learn the chickens nutritional requirements (class at the university) and then find out the nutrient density of what is in the house and deciding what to do based on that.

    Trial and error can earn you some losses in either eggs or birds as you figure out what feeds them well and what doesn't. I suggest keeping a written log and not throwing everything at them at once. If you are willing to take that chance, then that would be your bet.

    These first four of mine are pets and I won't take chances with them. I have plenty of access to aluminum cans to take to the recycler. I also scavenge steel and copper from the neighbors heap as I take loads of junk to the dump for them. My kids sell pears off the tree, but these are just a few things to think about. When we increase our flock they will most likely receive more scraps.

    No, it is not a death sentence for a chicken to have something other than their processed chicken chow. Finding out what makes them healthy and lay properly or turn into nice juicy broilers isn't easy but it is possible.
  10. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I remember that storm Chirpy. I'd go to King Soopers and there was no bread on the shelf. I don't even know why I was there, probably for something dumb, because we always have plenty of stuff to get us through. The storm didn't phase us but lots of people had a hard time. That's kinda why I'm asking the question I want to know that I can cover the nutritional needs of the girls for about 6 months without the need for commercial food, if I need to.

    Free ranging is an option, except for the middle of winter. I could make bread for them I guess and feed them the scraps from meals. I guess I'll have to do some research. I was hoping somebody already did [​IMG]

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