Mary’s Whole Grain Chicken Feed Recipe

I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been meaning to tell you about my solution to the feed problem, but it’s just that time of year. Harvest season is a busy time of year whether or not you have a garden to harvest.

I wrote a couple posts about this already, so you may or may not be tired of me talking about it. However, what you feed your birds is an important topic. Garbage In, Garbage Out as the saying goes.

To recap: I was fed up with Purina crumbles because of the plastic bag issue, and I found that  even though the organic layer feed came in a paper bag it only came in a meal form, which wasn’t practical for me. Backyard hens need to be easy to maintain for us working folks. The more time and energy we have to expend dealing with their upkeep the less time we have left over to spend enjoying the birds or doing other things at home.

We get the following recipes mixed at Bourn feed in roughly 50 pound bags. Each bag, along with the correct amount of kelp (roughly 2 lbs), is approximately $20-24, depending on grain prices. Bourn needs at least 500 pounds in their mixer for it to work so I’ve had to recruit many other people to be able to do this.

Summer Recipe:
[pounds: product]

20: shell corn
80: soft wheat
60: hard wheat (hard wheat had doubled in price here in MO in 2012 and the feed store isn’t carrying it so I’ve been subbing soft wheat instead)
80: oats
135: sunflower seeds
50: millet
50: field peas
25: flax

20: kelp granules (sold and fed separately)
Winter Recipe (Dec-Mar):
40: whole corn (increased ration for added warmth)
70: soft wheat
60: hard wheat
80: oats
125: sunflower seeds
50: millet
50: field peas
25: flax

20: kelp granules (sold and fed separately)

Gives us about 17% protein content!

Also, always ALWAYS allow free choice (do not put it in their feed) of grit and calcium. Sand is NOT grit, egg shells are NOT grit. Grit is made up of very hard small stones, in the feed stores it comes as granite, but often yard pebbles will work too. Calcium can come in the form of oyster shell (most common), ground up egg shells, or certain limestones. However, keep in mind that a hen has to consume 2 1/2 eggs shells to generate enough calcium to produce a new egg shell.

The kelp adds trace vitamins and minerals unavailable in this limited diet. The kelp comes in little granules, which can be difficult to get the hens to eat. I’ve found that if I put it in something wet and then stir in some of the grains and top it all with a handful of the grains they eat it right up. Others have had luck putting it in yogurt, which your hens have to be trained to eat, but once they know its food they will devour yogurt.

Everyone who bought feed on the last order says their hens LOVE it. I still had some commercial feed and made the mistake of feeding my hens the whole grains before finishing off the crumbles. What a mistake! Now I’ve got 30-40 pounds of crumbles that they won’t eat.

This recipe has only 8 ingredients, all of which we can get at grain prices. A more varied diet would be better, but it also has to be priced reasonably in order for all the people in the buying club to afford it.

Bourn doesn’t carry all organic grains, as around here people wouldn’t buy it, but they do try to buy from non GM and pesticide/herbicide free farmers. That said, not all the grains in this mix are GM free.

Update:  Summer 2012:

The kelp was rather a nuisance so we stopped using it. So far that I can tell there has been no ill effects from that decision, but most of us allow our hens to range on the property for at least some part of the day as well as feed them profuse table/garden scraps.

Also Bourn stopped carrying hard wheat. The drought caused the crop to be very small and so their supplier doesn’t have any. I increased the soft wheat and oats to compensate.

Update:  Fall 2012:

The lack of kelp hasn’t seemed to have affected my flock any and I haven’t heard from anyone else suffering problems related to its removal from the mix.

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