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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mixing your Own Layer Feed


With the price of everything rising, the chance to save money anywhere you can is tempting. We get asked often about mixing your own layer feed for your flock instead of buying commercial feed.  It's not something I have ever done personally. Having a fairly small flock and a very convenient feed store has made it too easy to purchase feed. 


By mixing your own feed, in addition to saving a little money, you also know exactly what is going into your chicken's diet.  By choosing organic and non-GMO grains and ingredients, you are providing your hens a healthy diet, but mixing feed is not quite as easy as dumping some grains into a pail.  The nutrient content needs to be balanced to keep your hens healthy and able to continuing to lay quality eggs.

The act of laying eggs takes a toll on a chicken's body. If they aren't fed enough protein and calcium, they will start using their body stores to produce eggs, to the detriment of the chicken's health.  Before you decide to give up commercial feed, be sure you do some reading and research to make an educated decision if homemade feed will work for you. 

When you think about what farm chickens ate in the past, free to roam acres and acres looking for food, you realize that greens (weeds, grasses and clover), seeds and protein in the form of worms, bugs and slugs made up their diet. So your goal is to replicate a 'natural' diet as closely as possible.  If your chickens do free range (although realize that roaming your back yard won't provide them as great a variety of food sources as true free ranging on farmland or pastures will), you have a better chance of providing them a well-rounded diet using homemade feed.


Some of the ingredients you will want to incorporate are a variety of seeds, alfalfa, corn, wheat, barley and oats.  Also kelp (minerals), probiotic powder (intestinal health/digestion), fish meal (protein),  food-grade lime or aragonite (calcium), flax seed (Omega-3) and brewer's yeast (B complex) should be included in any homemade mix along with a nutrient blend.

Grinding the ingredients is recommended so your hens don't just pick out the 'good' stuff, although be aware that ground seeds and grains start to oxidize and lose their nutrients fairly quickly, so plan on making only small batches of feed to last several days. Also, be sure the grains you are using aren't moldy because mold produces mycotoxins which will affect productivity and could possibly even cause death.  Purchasing grains at a local co-op can be more economical if you can find one nearby, and sticking with organic, non-GMO grains is highly recommended.  


After doing a bit of reading about mixing my own feed, I think for now we will stick with commercial feed.  Our hens love it, they are healthy and lay beautiful eggs. Until I have more time to do some additional research and a cost comparison, I'll hold off mixing our own.  I do however, supplement the commercial layer feed with a few supplements (detailed in my Breakfast of Champion Layers article), daily greens in the form of weeds and chopped grass usually, as well as the occasional insects and worms.

I hope this has given you food for thought, if nothing else. There is a lot more information in an article entitled Making Your Own Poultry Feed from Backyard Poultry written by Harvey Ussery which discusses exact percentages as well as more of the nutritional requirements you will need to meet in order to provide your flock with homemade goodness.

 How about you?  Do you mix your own feed?  Feed commercial feed -organic or nonorganic? I would like to hear your thoughts.


Buying sources:

Photobucket
www.nutrenaworld.com

www.organicfeeds.com

www.scratchandpeck.com
Thomas Labs
www.thomaslabs.com

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www.omegafields.com
Use the coupon code FRESHEGGS  for 5% off your purchase of Omega Fields Ultra Egg

7 comments:

  1. Where can I get none GMO grains for my chickens and horses. I live in southern In. ?

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  2. We get our feed from a store that will mix whatever mixture we want and it comes out to about $15/100 pounds and it is for ALL animals. All of our animals love the feed! I was buying feed for about $25/100 so this is MUCH cheaper!! :)

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    1. That's what I need to do since we have ducks as well as chickens...I need a feed that is formulated for them all. Nice.

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  3. Do you have any luck getting your ducks to eat something like this? My ducks will only eat pellets. I've tried adding grains and they very neatly eat the pellets and leave the grain behind.

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    1. The ducks do eat it, although what I have been doing is pouring any feed left over at bedtime into a pan for the ducks. At that point pretty much everything is eaten out of it but the layer feed, so they eat that overnight - nothing goes to waste and everyone eats what they want. I have read that seeds can irritate ducks, although I haven't been able to verify it - I think they instinctively stay away from seeds and grains maybe?

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  4. ARG! I was cleaning out my fridge tonight and found some old moldy food and tossed it in with the chicken left overs. I hope I didn't kill my ladies! NEVER AGAIN! Also, my hens are 100% free range on about 30 acres. They cover around 15 acres during the day. We also have layer feed in the coup which they do eat. Egg production appears to be ok but I've just been curious if they're getting a balanced diet. I've read mixed opinions. Some say let them eat what they want, and other says stick to a 90% commercial feed diet. They're 23 weeks and 27 weeks and we're getting 4-8 eggs per day and we'll be putting light into the coup in the near future to compensate for the decreased light hours.

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  5. Thanks for your kind comment today on my blog. That was my first Homestead Revival link up. Hope to do it again. I really like your blog too with us having the chicken thing in common.
    Blessings
    Diane

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Thank you for your kind comments and joining along with Fresh Eggs Daily as we live our wonderful, natural country farm life.

Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl
www.facebook.com/FreshEggsDaily