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Making your own Chicken Feed / Quail Feed

ryan112ryan McCoy


Joined: Aug 23, 2010
Posts: 45
Hey all,

So I have been trying to think how to make a well rounded feed for my chickens and quails.  People often criticize the idea because it won't have the proper balance of nutrients/minerals/etc.

So my questions is this:  What can I put together from things I grow that will meet the needs or at least get close to what commercial feeds have?

I figure I can have worms for protein, corn for carbs etc.  What else?
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Yes you can....

And there are very detailed recipes for chicken/duck feed on the internet.

First I would say keep the ingredients real - if it is a seed and it can sprout then it has life to give to your birds.

The people on forums who specialize in birds tend to avoid medications, corn, soy, sometimes oats and animal protein form other birds or processed livestock bits n pieces.  That's a short list anyway.

Your recipe needs -
              An oil source such as black oil sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.
              A mineral source - kelp works nicely, or molasses in the winter
              A green source such as sprouted seeds, grasses, chop n drop herbs and weeds or dried herbs
              A high protein grain such as - Hard Red Wheat, Quinoa, Amaranth, Kamut, Rye or Spelt

I would also add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar + garlic-cloves to a gallon of their water.


Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Well, historically I have bought mash to start chicks, ducklings and geese on, until they can handle whole soaked oats. That's all I feed mine. I fed the ducks nothing but oats all the way through winter and they started laying fine in spring, as soon as the mulberries kicked into gear I quit feeding and the egg laying slowly tapered off, though june was blistering and they are ducks after all.

I didn't do this out of any real practical reasons other than I know for sure oats are not GMOs and they were locally available to me.

I have a huge 10 pound rooster and all I feed him is oats... since he was about say 2 or 3 pounds. He is fat, healthy and glossy, never saw a healthier rooster in my life. Now where I am running into problems I suppose is egg production probably suffers quite a bit.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Emile, buying local with no GMO's is a super way to go.

You don't say, but how much time do your chickens get out on pasture/forest land?  I ask this because when people are talking about making a complete feed ration it is for birds who usually don't have access to fields of land with foraging options.  This is the reason 'complete' is so important.  

It sounds to me like you are supplementing your birds diet, more than creating their only food source.
                          


Joined: Dec 01, 2009
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
The farm manager I was working for this summer had developed a feed recipe based on the amino acid contents of the various grains; the math was complicated. She also soaked the grains in whey overnight, when available—that seemed to boost protein as well as nutrient absorption. Of course it was only a supplement to their pasture, as well, but she wanted to make sure they had a baseline of balanced nutrition.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
ive been collecting varieties of sunflower, chenopodium, brassica, urtica, etc- greens & big oily seeds- and these are going in my chook fodder patch. ill be saving seed for overwintering them- right now im running about  1/2 the "advised' pellet volume and letting them forage in the lower gardens (already harvested). they getting fat, which isnt so good- fat hens tend to lay less and die early. SO im watching it and trying to cut back on pellets even more. I go through a 50# bag in 16-18 days with 13 birds- orthodoxy seems to says I should be feeding 3# a week, each, to these large breeds (rhode island, barred rock, buff orpington). Im more in the 1.5# range- so 50% of the diet is forage.

Its winter, i keep a light on them, it seems they lay - 12layers- about 5 a day. I can live with this. Ive pushed hens to lay lay lay and find that they wear out faster. I had one feral hen for seven years happily laying every 2-3 days into the 6th year. Ive had several of the semi ferals that came with the farm which layed into year 4 and 5. but not every day- I think pushing them with balanced diets has the subtext of egg producing diets and the chicken is forced to make more eggs faster than it does in a scenario that it is really choosing its food based on its natural diet and hunger in a feral system. so it dies quicker and we get less of the other functions from our relationship with it.  Im slowly nudging my system to a feral browse in the summer and forage stock in the winter- I think the chickens will last longer, be better brooders and have longer- if not as intense- laying lives.

bugs. grubs. greens. seeds.

when my seed garden for them is ready, next year, Im hopping to get them off pellet completely, and have envisioned something like what kerrick describes. ive seen this before and it looks and feels right.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
In the winter only, when the bugs become scarce due to the heavy rain soaked soil I also give my birds (ducks and chickens) milk kefir and whey from making cheeses.  I sometimes soak the grains and sometimes I get to busy and just mix and offer it.  This gives the birds probiotics and since I've started doing this I have had no sicknesses or diseases, so it's good advise.  I'm glad Kerrick remembered to add it.

For winter laying I rely on my ducks.  I too offer the chickens a light, but it's just because I'm a softy and they are restricted to a house/run area.  Even with a light my few chicken's slack off to much in the winter for our egg needs.  My summer ducklings on the other hand are just starting to lay now *grin* While they will lay heaver in the spring time, they will steadily provide fresh eggs all winter long.  I have Indian Runners and Khaki Campbells (half Runners half Mallard). 

For Thanksgiving this year we had two slow-roasted Peking ducks - what a feast!  Because these animals also feed us I never use processed feeds.

                      


Joined: Nov 30, 2010
Posts: 53
i am thinking about lots of white millet short season so i can plant after winter sown camelina
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I was just given The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe, and it's fantastic, I'm not that far into it, but she gives a very enlightening section on DIY bird feeding.  It follows generally what everyone has already mentioned except -  She recommends cooked sub-grade potatoes or winter squash as a carbohydrate. 

Jamie she is all about DUCKS, because they lay all thru the winter.  Apparently they can't deal with snow though, we need a much better indoor space for them before we get any.  I'm very excited about that idea though. 

How much of a chicken's ration could raw milk become, do you think? 

I saved all the heads of the sunflowers that came up everywhere in the garden this year (I didn't plant any - only kept most of the volunteers) and dried them in the dehydrator.  I toss out a head or three every day and I think they enjoy getting the seeds out of the whole flower.  Takes up more space to store them in the flower though.  Next year I want to plant a lot more specifically for this purpose. 

I notice our chickens eat a lot less feed when I give them sunflower seeds or less than human quality cooked potatoes.  I had a batch of pickled beets turn....odd flavored....but I don't think dangerous, and I've been feeding them to the chooks too.  Their yolks are almost as deep orange as they were this summer, and I blame the beets.

With four supplemental hours of light a day (they are free range if they can bear to go outside and most of the time, they do!) we're getting six or seven eggs a day from nine hens. 
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Beets and Potatoes - great ideas!

Yup, I'm over worked and love the extreme foraging ducks, or geese for that matter, will do on their own.  But your right snow adds a whole new spin on things.  Snow + temps above zero isn't a problem, but below zero temps become an issue for sure.  If you see your ducks or geese avoiding walking - only taking a few steps and then sitting again it's time to offer them shelter, as this indicates they are trying to keep their feet/legs from freezing.

I have no idea on ration amounts for whey or kefir supplement.  I offer it about every other week.  I mix a large dog dish size bowl with kefir + grain mix.  It is rich, raw milk with the cream more often than lighter whey, and my goal is not to get them fat and lazy.  So I just use my instinct on feeding it.
                                          


Joined: Oct 15, 2010
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
this thread has me feeling better.  i have 4 hens (2 ISA browns and 2 california greys).  they were laying 6-7 per week each until about 3 weeks ago.  now the ISA's are each laying daily, but the other two are laying about 3 per week.

i'm supplementing light and will add some heaters if need be. 
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
we feed our chickens waste from the garden and kitchen along with black soldier flies, along with there natural foraging they do we dont buy feed.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Kahty Chen


Joined: May 07, 2010
Posts: 26
Location: Southern Oregon
I've been giving my flock yogurt and the whey from cheesemaking, but then I ran across this response to a poster by Dr. Brigid McCrea Phd., who is the "Ask The Small Flock Specialist" on the featherfanciers forum and Extension Poultry Specialist at Delaware State University in Dover, DE:

"It was not a good idea to give dairy products to your poultry unless your goal was to induce diarrhea. Chickens do not produce the enzyme Lactase and so therefore cannot digest lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). Dairy products are fine as a probiotic for humans but are not suggested for use in poultry. ... Poultry do not produce the enzyme Lactase and therefore cannot digest the sugar Lactose. All dairy products contain Lactose, including yogurt. Yes, there are beneficial bacteria, but they are designed for humans, not poultry. You will still induce diarrhea and that will not allow the "probiotic" bacteria to attach and perform many of the beneficial functions that we humans enjoy."

Anyone have a bead on the truth of this? My chickens haven't produced diarrhea, like she suggests.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
All of that is true for milk products which are started from pasteurized milk with an industrial culture.  Ever noticed the difference in taste of bottled for sale fermented beverages like kefir from the naturally brewed counterpart?  Not all cultures are created equal. . . . . likewise not all processes are either.

But not true for kefir, especially raw milk kefir.... which after fermented 24 to 48 hours will still have very small amounts of lactose, but not enough to bother your cat, chickens or such.  My chickens droppings are as they should be, solid and soft until the dry out.


The beneficial yeast and friendly bacteria in the kefir culture consume most of the lactose (or milk sugar). Eat kefir on an empty stomach first thing in the morning before (or for) breakfast and you'll be delighted to find it can be easily digested -- as numerous people who have been lactose intolerant for years have discovered.



Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there.  But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.

Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.

It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.


  http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

I am lactose intolerant. Can I drink kefir? Kefir is ideal for people who like dairy products but are lactose intolerant. Commercial dairy products cause problems for people who are lactose intolerant. However, the probiotic bacteria in kefir grains metabolize the lactose during the culturing process, making the resulting kefir easier to digest. Kefir grains contain 18 species of Lactobacilli, as well as many other probiotics. These are described in the section "The Microflora And Growth-Cycle Of Kefir Grains" on Dom's kefir in-site. All together, there are over 40 species of probiotics and yeast. Hence kefir grains are much more efficient than yogurt culture, which contains only two probiotics (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus).


                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
WOw, good to know about the effectiveness of wild(er) cultures.  I love these boards. 

I plan to switch some of my molasses kefir grains over to milk when our cow starts producing (that calf is dropping any day now) but what about letting the milk naturally clabber?  Wouldn't the wild cultures that find their way into the milk also digest most of the lactose?  I imagine it's a faster process if you inoculate it with the kefir culture....
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Kefir milk grains are a different duck from kefir water grains, but some have speculated that maybe the water ones were converted to milk over time way back when.... no one knows if this is true or not.

All cultures are different and bring their own benefits, I believe clabbered milk does too, but I do not know about the lactose in clabbered milk.  I make a nice soft cheese just by putting our raw milk into a slight warm oven over night.  And sometimes I add a few cups of buttermilk first, which really gives a creamy, yummy final product.

I know time plays a big roll in the results one gets from fermentation, the longer ferment the more beneficial organisms.  AS seen with a 3 day kombucha as compared to a 7 day brew - of course they also become more sour!

That's exciting news about your cow - soon you'll be flowing in milk and cream, wonderful - keep us posted.
Kahty Chen


Joined: May 07, 2010
Posts: 26
Location: Southern Oregon
lol ... I've never made shorter than a 2 week kombucha, and prefer them even older! 
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Woa - that's impressive!  More like Kombucha vinegar    So good for you.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I was told that you can gradually start adding a little bit of milk, and then increase the ratio til it's 100% milk.   I fully intend to try this and I'll let you know how it goes. 

I've been giving the chickens excess molasses kefir, they drink it up and never have anything other than firm nice looking poos.  Very firm shells, too!  I feel that the kefir might make the calcium more available?  I don't feed them crushed oyster or their own shells directly, just the kefir made with their shells. 

I'm kind of surprised that woman wrote that all dairy makes all poultry have runny poo.  That's just a very blanket statement.  Then there's the personal experience of others right here that says otherwise!

And yeah - fermentation is all about personal preference.  One person's rotten is another's perfection! 
Charlie Michaels


Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 124
I really desire to supply as much of my own chicken feed as possible. Can someone who is good with chicken nutrition tell me if this will work? This is a suburban flock of 6-7. I want to eliminate store bought grain as much as possible from their diet.


Winter

Something like

30% Acorns     
30% Jerusalems     
5% Dried Greens for nutrition     
5% Pickled foods
10% pumpkins
20% Supplemental Oats or Sunflower
______________________________________________________________

Spring

40% Fresh Greens (comfrey, lovage, fennel, nettle, you name it) and bugs
40% various wild tubers (thistle, burdock) or Jerusalems
10% kitchen scraps
10% Supplemental Oats or Sunflower
_______________________________________________________________

Summer
40% Greens and Bugs
40% Summer fruits from around the garden; goumi, peach, elderberry, grapes
10% Kitchen scraps
10% Supplemental Feed

_________________________________________________________________
Fall

10% Kitchen Scraps
20% Jerusalem Artichokes
20% Greens and Bugs
40% Fall fruits; apples, persimmons, quince, pawpaw
10% Supplemental Feed

Acorns foraged and then dried to preserve, then I'd throw them out periodically in winter. I'd like to feed them Jerusalem because I know I can grow alot of them and then store them in a root cellar.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
look into keeping black soldier flies. your chickens will love you, and your family will love them because when chickens are eating BSF and a diverse diet of greens there eggs are THE BEST. you can also reduce all of your non-compostable food waste like meats, oils, fats and all at the same time.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Mr. Chuck,

Your mix sounds pretty good to me, only two things to consider adding as far as I can tell.  A mineral source (kelp?) and in the winter when bugs are low a heavy B vitamin-protein source (maybe this is your pickled foods? - I would look to a bit of fermented dairy or worms/flies as Hubert suggests.

Best of luck
Charlie Michaels


Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 124
Thanks Jami! I appreciate you giving me some confidence in this, I need that in the beginning.

Btw keeping soldier grubs looks like an excellent idea, I'm wondering if theyll survive the winter outside or maybe its better to bring them inside.
            


Joined: Jun 21, 2009
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
We have associates who raise and milk cows, they feed their chickens, turkeys, and emus whole raw milk mixed with barley.  This is all they feed and have no troubles whatsoever from the milk, which is fed fresh.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
From what I've read the BSF are a summer product, and this is why I haven't given them a try.  But meal worms are easy enough to raise year round indoors (very little moisture or mess).... I even raised my red worms inside over the winter, but it wasn't easy or mess free.

Kurt - I have no problem with feeding fresh raw milk to the birds, it's all good.
I ferment mine for added nutrition for the family, our birds just eat what we do 
            


Joined: Jun 21, 2009
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
Just commenting on what the "small flock specialist" claims, Jami, not trying to contradict you.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
We're cool Kurt - I just 'posted back' so others reading wouldn't think they had to ferment milk for safety reasons or something.  Just wanted to be completely clear.  Fermenting has it's extra benefits, but it is NOT necessary....

Thank you for adding the raw-milk part.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6437
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
132
My thinking is that feeding milk/dairy will benefit any mammal.  Non-mammals may/may not receive the same nutritional benefits, but if it is causing no harm, what's to lose?  If you have leftover whey, it certainly makes sense to utilize it for livestock.
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
For over 30 years, I've started my chicks on small seeds with stale whole grain bread mixed into yogurt or kefir made from goat milk.  Never lost one, except to accidents.  Always gave them chickweed or some other tender, young greens they could peck at.  Coccidiosis was never a problem.  I think the cultured dairy gave them an immune boost, also keeping the cages very clean and the fresh greens daily were a bonus. 


Wild Edible & Medicinal Plant classes, & DVDs
Live in peace, walk in beauty, love one another.
Dawn Alexis


Joined: Feb 14, 2013
Posts: 1
Hi - I just joined and thank you all for your very informative posts.

I am not raising any fowl, but was interested in the feeding of milk kefir to my pet birds (lovebirds and finches). I have read not to give them dairy, but what I then read on your forum here made me think that I can... I have one that is sickly - due to malnutrition and oversight on my part as a new owner - so have already begun the remedy.

I suppose my question is: how can I tell if the swollen vent is due to egg binding or something else? The two finches I have laid several infertile clutches over the past year. I know they must be calcium depleted even though they have had cuttlebone which they make frequent use of. I also put in gravel/grit a couple of months ago and now have read that it can build up in their bodies, causing impaction? The vent is round and seems to be large for a finch, but it is a healthy pink and I do not see any signs of an egg. I also gently massaged with some vegetable oil and am keeping it warm with a humidifier. I did not feel any eggs when I massaged it (mind you, I did not squeeze so not even sure what that would feel like). Are there other causes besides egg binding that would cause the vent area/abdomen to be large and bulbous?

I cannot find any photos of egg binding in finches, or any photos that look similar to my birds' vent at the moment. Also, her breathing was laboured, but she is still eating and jumping around...

Any advice or opinions you can provide are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Dawn
Tokunbo Popoola


Joined: Mar 19, 2013
Posts: 157
Location: Sacramento, CA
    
    1
Charlie Michaels wrote:I really desire to supply as much of my own chicken feed as possible. Can someone who is good with chicken nutrition tell me if this will work? This is a suburban flock of 6-7. I want to eliminate store bought grain as much as possible from their diet.


Winter

Something like

30% Acorns     
30% Jerusalems     
5% Dried Greens for nutrition     
5% Pickled foods
10% pumpkins
20% Supplemental Oats or Sunflower
______________________________________________________________

Spring

40% Fresh Greens (comfrey, lovage, fennel, nettle, you name it) and bugs
40% various wild tubers (thistle, burdock) or Jerusalems
10% kitchen scraps
10% Supplemental Oats or Sunflower
_______________________________________________________________

Summer
40% Greens and Bugs
40% Summer fruits from around the garden; goumi, peach, elderberry, grapes
10% Kitchen scraps
10% Supplemental Feed

_________________________________________________________________
Fall

10% Kitchen Scraps
20% Jerusalem Artichokes
20% Greens and Bugs
40% Fall fruits; apples, persimmons, quince, pawpaw
10% Supplemental Feed

Acorns foraged and then dried to preserve, then I'd throw them out periodically in winter. I'd like to feed them Jerusalem because I know I can grow alot of them and then store them in a root cellar.


how many quail are you keeping and what is supplemental feed? like sunflower, oil seeds so forth? wheat
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
 
subject: Making your own Chicken Feed / Quail Feed
 
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