One idea that I have been toying and experimenting with is the mixing of my own chicken feed. I am actually very happy with the feed that I am currently feeding: it’s from a small feed store in Summerville where Justus lives, it’s very high in protein (26%), and the chickens love it and seldom waste any. However, my biggest issue with pretty much all commercial feeds is that they contain corn and soy – both of which have issues with me. Corn is generally a high fat, low protein additive, and in my opinion chickens really don’t need it – I do feed some whole kernels in the winter months to add some fat and help them warm themselves, but otherwise I see no need for it in their everyday feed.
This dislike of corn and soy in primarily all chicken feeds has led me to begin some research regarding optimum chook nutrition and how I could be better serving my flock.
Protein – protein is the main component of a healthy chicken diet, and a solid layer diet is a minimum of 17% protein, with 20-25% being a good maximum (I feed super layer pellets because my chickens DO NOT depend entirely on their feed as their only source of food – they forage and free range so they’re not getting overloaded with protein from eating just their feed)
~ good sources of protein are things like wheat, oats, barley, rye, sunflower seeds, milk products (yogurt, milk), eggs, meat, worms, bugs, legumes; if we are talking feed mixing, legumes (like peas or dried lentils) or oats provide great sources of protein for your chooks; it is also beneficial to start a mealworm or maggot colony for added protein treats
Vitamins & Minerals – chickens have gizzards meaning that they need to be eating a grit component to grind their feed and extract minerals. Selenium, calcium, and Omega 3s should be minor components in their diets: calcium can come from oyster shells – which also serve as grit, and omega 3s can come from flax. Kelp can be added to feed or sprinkled in the coop as a treat – it is chock full of minerals. Make sure your chooks get their daily vitamin D from sun exposure daily
Greens – make sure your chickens get some form of greens daily, especially if they don’t free range and forage – they can get the most nutrition from dark green, leafy veggies such as kale and spinach. You can pull handfuls of weeds to toss into the coop or give kitchen scraps
I have been looking around online and this is the one recipe I’ve come up with that I really like nutritionally and that doesn’t contain corn or soy. It doesn’t have any expensive additives and you should be able to source everything from your local feed store. I have noticed that most chicken feed recipes include things like diatomaceous earth (DE), brewer’s yeast, kelp, and nutritional supplements. While adding these components can provide great nutrition for your flock, they are often expensive and not practical, especially for anyone with a larger flock. If you want to add these things to your chook’s diets, make them into treats (which I will touch on in another blog post) or give supplementally – not daily.
Recipe: via Peaceful Valley Farm
– 3lb rye (grass seed – purchase from feed store) [$36/50lb bag]
– 9lb barley [$20/50lb bag]
– 9lb oats [$15/50lb bag]
– 9lb wheat (winter red wheat is best) [$20/50lb bag]
– 4lb black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) [$25/30lb bag]
– 3lb flax [$22/20lb bag]
– 2lb oyster shells [$10/50lb bag]
+ This all equals out to about $19.10 for one recipe mixture; or to buy all of the bags of feed in bulk will cost $148.