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velacreations

Feeding Poultry without grains

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Efficiency depends on a lot of variables, even in factory production.  A change of breed, temperatures, or vitamin content can throw everything out the window.  The factory diet is efficient in a small window of variables, and most backyards won't meet those variables, making that diet inappropriate for the conditions.

Total brand cereal is perhaps the best food for humans... on paper.  It has every vitamin and mineral, and combined with milk, gives you nearly the daily allowance of everything you need. I think we would all argue that a diet of Total cereal for all humans, all the time, would be inappropriate. There's more to food than meeting the basic nutritional requirements.

Egg production, in particular, is something that can be matched quite easily with heritage, homestead breeds on backyard diets.  It's not so much that they lay more eggs per year, or even bigger eggs, but they do it for more years and their eggs tend to have more nutrients than their factory counterparts.

 

Having said all that, if people experiment with changing diets of their animals, they should do a little at a time, and monitor things closely to see if your changes have detrimental effects.

Edited by velacreations (see edit history)

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Just want to toss in something totally anecdotal, but hopefully relevant.  When we started 4 years ago, we were in the town (leasing a farm that had been grandfathered into the zoning) surrounded by high traffic, high speed commuter traffic so we used chicken tractors for both our meat and egg birds.  Once we got better fences and started free ranging, the chickens would stick very close to the barn and the driveway. Egg production went down and birds stopped laying at about 2 or 2.5 years.  When we moved out here in the country, we dramatically reduced the store bought feed and encouraged much more foraging.  We have three, 4 year old hens who live entirely in one of the pastures and have not returned to the barn in a year. They follow the goats and sleep in or on the run in shelter.  These hens stopped laying nearly two years ago, but they were left from our first batch and we decided to keep them on for nostalgic and pasture care reasons. All three started laying again early this month. I can't explain it other than to suggest that for some reason their systems shut down the development of eggs and the dietary and environmental changes stimulated their systems and released eggs that were sitting dormant. The only commercial feed they get is what they steal from the dairy goats. 

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Agree 100 % Gary,

Don't have expiriance with poultry, hope I will in near future, so I need to learn as much as I can.

I'm old enough to remember what was the taste of meat and eggs before and now. Sadly, my sons will remeber how taste of ketchup is changing.

Maybe is possible to make mix (diy) of natural food as supplement that can make chicken lay more eggs.?

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I recently started experimenting with feed with our quail.  I was feeding a formulated ration for game birds, but their egg production started to reduce.  So, I tried lots of things, including increasing their light, changing brands of feed, etc.  Nothing seemed to work.  Finally, I started feeding them earthworms, maggots, mealworms, etc.  Almost instantly, their egg production increased. Now, along with their game bird ration, I also feed a healthy supply of insects.  They eat the insects before anything else.

So, obviously, the formulated ration was missing something that my quail needed in their particular situation. 

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Im looking in comercial food composition and you can try this for substitution :

 

dehydrated alfalfa for mineral content
little cheese or boiled egg white for Methionine and Lysine
little chalk for Calcium

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As i am new to raising chickens i was wondering if there was any household green waste that should not be fed to the chickens (coffee grounds?). I currently compost all this stuff but if my chickens will benefit i will put my compost pile near them. Do they actually eat this stuff or do they eat the bugs and things that populate this stuff?

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They'll eat some of the stuff in the compost (mostly stuff that hasn't fully decomposed) so you don't want to put anything toxic to them. Primarily though, they feed on the critters that occupy the compost. They'll spread a pile pretty quickly, and accelerate composting for anything remaining. I have setup compost bins in the chicken run and will periodically (every couple of weeks or so) open it up to them. Once they have their fun and do my mixing work for me, I just rake the pile back together and let it sit for the next feast.

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I am keen to have a go at this, I dont have a lot of compostable material at this time of the year.

 

I have a machine called a push-off stacker that can handle green material so I might cut some late weed silage in August and cart a few truckloads in to get me started.

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Hi,

 

It's hard to say what chickens are eating when they are picking over their yard.....and it's probably best not to enquire too closely - particularly if you're a bit squeamish.  I've opened up the crop on many of them and it's a curious mix of grass, seeds, bug parts, grains, pellets, bits of shell.....and small stones.

 

The list of prospective ingredients in commercial chicken rations is quite long...but it comes down to three main things animal and plant protein, grains pulses and legumes and (what used to be) green feed......or any by-product of the three food groups (hence the inclusion of dairy stuff like whey).

 

I've seen chickens dig up a nest of pinkie mice - and eat them.

 

Don't be too concerned about what they won't eat.  What they don't want to eat, they'll leave and poop all over it.  It will eventually attract some other creature or fungal growth - and change form - until the chickens see something move about in it and then they'll recycle it.  The best way to recycle anything is to put it through the guts of a chicken.

 

Probably the one thing that I'd suggest that they don't get too much of is onions or garlic.....and not because they won't eat it.....but rather because it will taint the eggs.  By the way, chickens of all ages are into eggs.  Best not to feed them whole boiled eggs because they'll learn to eat fresh eggs - mash them up (shells and all) so they're unidentifiable as eggs - and they'll eat the lot.

 

Gary

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I have boarding stables on the property so i have access to loads of horse manure. Should i put that in the coop with the green waste from the kitchen? Should i add it right out of the animal or let it compost and age some?

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Hi Jens,

 

Horse manure is particularly good forage for chickens.  Horses are often fed a diet rich in grains - and they have a very inefficient digestive system - so chickens do very well out of it.  What's left after the chickens have been through it, tends to sprout less seedlings in the compost.

 

Gary

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Maybe that is what my Mums Chickens need. They tend to hang around the house a lot, they are very picky eaters and they dont lay any eggs at all!

They are very quiet though, I dont think I have ever heard the rooster crow and most of the time he is right by the back door.

Do you think it is too much iron in his diet, he seems to be stiff and proppy on his legs?

 

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