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Making Your Own Poultry Feeds: Part Three

Table of Contents

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Technique

For efficiency, I make a “premix” of the finer, more powdery ingredients, measuring it out in amounts sufficient for 25-lb batches and storing it until use. When ready to make feed, I grind (coarsely) the corn and peas, dump in the premix, and add the small grains whole (if I am not sprouting them). I mix thoroughly by hand, then feed immediately or store, for a few days only, in a covered bin.

Sample formulations

I cannot overemphasize that the following sample mixes are for illustrative purposes only. Feed formulation is a moving target for me, constantly subject to change, to experimentation—I figure that to “get it right,” a lifetime should suffice. If you are skilled in the use of electronic spreadsheets, you will find it trivial to do as I do—set up a series of spreadsheets which automatically recalculate protein, fat, and carbohydrate values, cost, etc. as I plug in varying amounts of the base ingredients. My spreadsheet is set up on the basis of 100-lb lots, since it is easier to think of the ingredients as percentages. However, I make up my feed in 25-lb batches, since that is easier when mixing by hand. Thus the tables reflect both the amount of ingredients per hundredweight, and the amounts per batch.

The numbers following the ingredients in parentheses indidate the percent protein, and the total protein in each mix is noted. These figures are based on the best information I can find on the subject, and probably in many cases reflect averages in typical market feedstocks. Since I have access to feedstocks produced more organically/sustainably/ecologically than in dominant agricultural practice, my actual percentages are probably better than the tables indicate.

By emphasizing the percent protein in the tables, I do not mean to imply that the other major and minor nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, enzymes) are not important—certainly they are. I have worked with complex formulae to determine the correct balance of the various nutrients, and discovered that—when making feeds from whole, natural ingredients as I largely do—the balances come out right if I simply peg a given formulation to the percent protein needed. If I were using a lot of processed and byproduct ingredients, of course, the calculation would become a good deal more complicated.

A further point about protein: My feeds would be considered short on protein by people who design poultry feeds. For example, the recommended percent protein for broiler chicks is 22 percent, I believe, and you will notice that my Starter Mix may be around 17.5 percent. I am not growing one of the souped-up, fast-growing hybrids such as the Cornish Cross, nor am I growing broilers for a market. Those who are would perhaps do well to increase the percentages of protein in my sample mixes. For traditional homestead breeds, however, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to “push” growing birds for maximum rate of growth. It may be that best long term health and reproductive success are achieved through a growth curve which is somewhat slower, but more balanced.

Finally, it may surprise some poultry owners to know that my home-made feeds are actually more expensive than commercial feeds. I buy certified-organic ingredients, and pay a fee to have them delivered from almost two hours away. While I am willing to pay a premium price for superior ingredients, I hope the growing number of small producers, perhaps joining in cooperative markets, will gain access to less costly local feedstocks. Certainly it is wise to remember the old adage: You get what you pay for.

Table 1: Starter Mix - Protein 17.5% - Cost $28.35
Ingredient Amount per 100 lb Amount per 25 lb
Premix:    
Aragonite 1.25  
Nutri-Balancer 2.00  
Kelp 0.50  
Salt 0.25  
Fish meal (.60) 5.00  
Crab meal (.25) 1.50  
Cultured yeast (.18) 1.50  
Flax seed (.25) 4.00  
Total Premix: 16.00 4.00
Grind:    
Corn (.09) 32.00 8.00
Peas (.22) 32.00 8.00
Whole:    
Wheat (.15) 16.00 4.00
Oats (.11) 4.00 1.00
Grand Total: 100.00 25.00


Table2: Pullet Grower Mix - Protein 16.9% - Cost $28.45
Ingredient Amount per 100 lb Amount per 25 lb
Premix:    
Aragonite 1.25  
Nutri-Balancer 2.00  
Kelp 0.75  
Salt 0.25  
Fish meal (.60) 4.25  
Crab meal (.25) 1.50  
Cultured yeast (.18) 2.00  
Flax seed (.25) 4.00  
Total Premix: 16.00 4.00
Grind:    
Corn (.09) 30.00 7.50
Peas (.22) 30.00 7.50
Whole:    
Wheat (.15) 16.00 4.00
Oats (.11) 8.00 2.00
Grand Total: 100.00 25.00


Table3: Summer Layer Mix - Protein 14% - Cost $26.15
Ingredient Amount per 100 lb Amount per 25 lb
Premix:    
Aragonite 7.50  
Nutri-Balancer 3.00  
Kelp 0.50  
Salt 0.25  
Fish meal (.60) 1.50  
Crab meal (.25) 1.50  
Cultured yeast (.18) 1.75  
Flax seed (.25) 4.00  
Total Premix: 20.00 5.00
Grind:    
Corn (.09) 32.00 8.00
Peas (.22) 24.00 6.00
Whole:    
Wheat (.15) 16.00 4.00
Oats (.11) 8.00 2.00
Grand Total: 100.00 25.00


Table4: Winter Layer Mix - Protein 14.6% - Cost $26.85
Ingredient Amount per 100 lb Amount per 25 lb
Premix:    
Aragonite 6.50  
Nutri-Balancer 2.00  
Kelp 0.50  
Salt 0.25  
Fish meal (.60) 1.50  
Crab meal (.25) 1.50  
Cultured yeast (.18) 1.75  
Flax seed (.25) 4.00  
Total Premix: 18.00 4.50
Grind:    
Alfalfa pellets (.17) 8.00 2.00
Corn (.09) 30.00 7.50
Peas (.22) 24.00 6.00
Whole:    
Wheat (.15) 12.00 3.00
Oats (.11) 8.00 2.00
Grand Total: 100.00 25.00


Table5: Experimental Layer Mix (Winter) with Sprouts - Protein 15.5% - Cost $26.60
A winter layer mix I have used, based on sprouting all the peas and small grains, and feeding the remaining ingredients as a dry mix. Note that I have no way of knowing how much the protein increased due to sprouting. In lieu of aragonite, I now offer oyster shell free choice.
Ingredient Amount per 100 lb Amount per 25 lb
Premix:    
Nutri-Balancer 1.00  
Kelp .75  
Salt .25  
Fish meal (.60) 1.00  
Crab meal (.25) 1.50  
Cultured yeast (.18) 0.50  
Flax seed (.25) 4.00  
Total Premix: 9.00 2.25
Grind:    
Alfalfa pellets (.17) 7.00 1.75
Corn (.09) 30.00 7.50
Sprout:    
Peas (.22) 24.00 6.00
Wheat (.15) 20.00 5.00
Oats (.11) 10.00 2.50
Grand Total: 100.00 25.00