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Whole Grain Feed ?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by FarmerGirl, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. FarmerGirl

    FarmerGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 12, 2007
    Hello. I just placed an order for 51 chickens today and I have no idea as to what I am doing. LOL Well not exactly but I'm definitely a newbie. I'll be raising mostly meat birds but some layers.

    My chickens will free range, but I know I need to supplement with some feed. I want to give them whole grains w/o soy, preferably something I can mix up myself. I couldn't find anything online that would be simple and meet that criteria. I looked at lion's grip and other websites. Any ideas? Could I just mix equal parts whole wheat, whole corn and lentils?

    Can someone explain what scratch is? And if they free range, do I need grit? How about oyster shells? I guess I'm just not clear on what all I need to be feeding the birds.
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Ok. Meat birds:

    For these I recommend getting the standard medicated chick starter from the feed store. They will be ready for butcher in about 7-8 weeks and be about 8 lbs alive. They are messy, dirty, fast growers, and their breed causes them to easily go down quick if they get sick or stressed. Their bodies can't keep up with their growth well. You will want to start restricting feed when they are about 4 weeks old and let the feeders go empty at night. The Cornish cross won't free range well and will be pretty much under the heat lamp for the majority of their life stuffing their faces with food so they wont be getting much from free ranging.

    Layers:

    For the first 6 or 8 weeks or so, they will also be under the heat lamp so they will need a complete chick diet for proper growth and develoment. At 18 weeks you switch to layer, or flock raiser while supplementing with oyster shells. They won't be good at free raning till about 3 months old as they will want the warmth and security of home and light and feed. As adults, they won't need grit if they have access to the dirt as they will pick out the rocks and eat them. If you give the chicks whole grains or treats, you will have to bring the dirt to them if they are not raised on the ground. They need the rocks to grind up their feed.

    Scratch is a "hot" food which should be kept in very strict moderation. I only give a cup full to the whole flock before bedtime if it is cold in the winter. Too much will cause fat hens and laying problems. It is also not good in the summer as the excess heat can stress out the birds in already warm weather.

    Basically to summarize:

    meat birds: Feed chick starter and grower from day 1 till 8 week old slaugher, restricting feed at night after 4 weeks old.

    Layers: Feed chick starter and grower from day 1 till week 18. Switch to layer alone, or use flock raiser plus oyster shell.

    Access to ground = no grit needed.

    Scratch = junk food, winter cold nights only.


    As for making your own feed, someone else is going to have to help you out there. Personally mixing my own is more work than it is worth. Good luck!
     
  3. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

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    I too would not attempt to "mix my own"... I use a good quality , age appropriate commercial mix to ensure the right ratio between all the nutrients which is crucial for their health and immunesystem.
     
  4. momma-hen

    momma-hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed my own mix....have for years. Wheat. oats, corn(cracked(, millet, sunflower seeds, field peas, peanut pieces, flax, kelp, DE, brewers yeast and oyster shell.
     
  5. FarmerGirl

    FarmerGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Would you mind sharing your recipe please? Can layers and broilers eat this same feed? And if you use organic grains, mind if I ask where you buy them?
     
  6. momma-hen

    momma-hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I use organic. There is a farm nearby that uses organic grain and will order for others for a fee. My local feed stores don't carry organic because it is so expensive.
    I don't worry about getting a protein percentage for the older birds, because with whole grains, they can pick out what they need. When I grind it down for use as a starter (I just burned up my VitaMix!!) I use 5 pounds each of the grains, peas, and sunflower seeds, plus a pound each of the kelp, brewers yeast, peanuts and DE. I don't add oyster shell to the starter mix, but they do get yogurt. I only add flax to the layers feed, and it is ground the day of use. I don't know if that is really necessary, but I read that they can't digest it whole. I don't see why, but I didn't want to risk it!!
    BTW, I use sunflower kernals, not whole seed. They can "hull" their own, but I found that for a pound for pound cost, you get more protein per dollar from the already hulled stuff because there is no waste at all!
     
  7. FarmerGirl

    FarmerGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    That really helps sooooo much. Thank you! I can't wait to get my chickens. LOL [​IMG] Thanks again for taking the time to share your recipe and details with me. I think I'll use kefir cuz yogurt is more work for me at this point. Next I want to learn how to cultivate earth worms for protein.
     
  8. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yay! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I want to mix my own once they're laying, so this is a huge help (already ordered enough organic starter/grower to get me to then).

    I'd posted before wondering what people who mixed their own grains did to grind it. I wasn't even sure if it had to be ground once you were feeding layers. Sounds as though this is the case, though. So were you using the Vita-Mix just to grind fine for the chicks or for the adults, too? Do you have any recommendations on mills/blenders/grinders for those of us making our own layer feed?

    Thanks again for sharing![​IMG]
     
  9. FarmerGirl

    FarmerGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    I would recommend you buy a grain mill that has a lifetime warrantly. I have the Whisper Mill and it had the lifetimes warranty, but since the company went outta business, my warranty is useless... lol [​IMG]

    Where does one buy DE? I think my coop carries the rest of the ingredients.
     
  10. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I believe I've seen DE at some of the online poultry sites. Other posts have mentioned that it can often be found at your garden supply store.
     

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