Details of Our Organic Chicken Feed

If you have been following the big chicken adventure on the Small House Homestead you know I’ve been researching the most nutritional feed for our new chicken friends. And because you are what you eat…and I will be eating their eggs…I know I need to balance the cost of feed from the feed store and chicken food I can grow or glean myself.

Entire feed bag USE

A fifty pound bag of Natures Grown Organics Quality Feeds.

I choose Organic Layer feed http://naturesgrownorganics.com/poultry from my feed store that cost (gulp!) $26.70 per 50 lb. bag. I did consider making my own organic feed but when I discovered that this feed was available to me, I decided to give it a try. I knew from my research that 16% to 20% protein was important and this feed has 16% protein.

Organic chicken feed close USE

The chicken feed close up.

I am not an agent or employee but just a user that is happy to have this option. For those of you who might be interested in this product, here are the details:

ORGANIC LAYER 16%

(PHASE II)

COMPLETE FEED FOR LAYING CHICKENS

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

Crude Protein, Not less than……………………………………………………………….16.0%

Lysine, Not less than………………………………………………………………………….0.75%

Methionine, Not less than……………………………………………………………………0.25%

Crude Fat, Not less than……………………………………………………………………….5.0%

Crude Fiber, Not more than ………………………………………………………………….5.0%

Calcium, (Ca), Not less than………………………………………………………………….3.5%

Calcium, (Ca), Not more than………………………………………………………………..4.0%

Phosphorus (P), Not less than……………………………………………………………..0.50%

Salt (NaCI), Not less than……………………………………………………………………..0.3%

Salt (NaCI), Not more than……………………………………………………………………0.8%

INGREDIENTS

Organic Corn, Organic Soy, Organic Barley, Organic Oats, Organic Wheat Midds, Organic Flax, DL Methionine, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Choline Chloride, Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride,Thiamine, Iron Oxide, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite, Zinc Methionine Complex.

DIRECTIONS FOR USE

Organic Layer 16% is generally recommended for feeding to mature laying hens (50-80 weeks of age). May be used during the entire production cycle. Do not provide additional grain or free-choice calcium source.

Provide fresh, clean water at all times.

Manufactured By:

PREMIER COOPERATIVE

405 S. MAIN STREET, Westby WI 54667

Certified Organic by Midwest Organic Services Association

As you can see, this brand of animal feed is formulated to exacting standards using the finest organic local grains, many provided by the members of the western Wisconsin coop. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used in growing the grain sold by this company.

I know that I can buy cheaper feed than this but I prefer to feed my girls a high quality feed with less filler and supplement when I can for a balanced diet. I believe that feeding my chickens in a healthy way will come through in both the eggs I eat as well as in  healthier chickens.

Feed in new bin  USE

100 pounds of organic feed in the new bin.

I will also supplement with kitchen scraps, crushed acorns, sunflower seeds, green fodder, worms from our compost pile and gleaned apples, pears and more.

Acorns in bowl

Gleaned acorns will provide a lot of protein to the chickens this winter.

Apples in bird bath jpeg

Gleaned apple will become chicken snacks!

Today I picked field corn (for the squirrels and songbirds) and sorghum for the chickens.

Corn 2 rows USE jpeg

Field corn lying on the compost bins.

Corn husk in compost jpeg

Corn shucks in the compost bins.

If you are not familiar with sorghum it is a genius of grass that is raised for grain and fodder (feed.) The plants are cultivated in warm climates worldwide. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big blew stem and sugarcane. The pioneers used sorghum to make molasses.

Sorghum in bucket USE

Fresh picked sorghum to test it as a chicken feed.

In commercial chicken feeding sorghum is the second most used grain for commercial growers of turkeys, broilers and egg layers. The fat content of grain sorghum is slightly lower when compared to corn.

When I picked the sorghum seed heads today I made sure the heads contained dry, brown seeds. This grin has small glossy kernels that I intend to strip from the panicle and mix it in their scratch. I’ve read that it is easily digested and a good source of B carotene that will help to make the egg yolks nice and yellow.

If you should desire to learn more about making your own chicken feed by growing your own grains , I recommend the following; http://www.avianaquamiser.com/posts/Growing_grains_for_chicken_feed/

Small House Homestead and chicken keeper, Donna

 

 

 

 

Winterizing the Coop – Momma Hen Day Two Progress

One thing about rescuing chickens they do not always have the base of training your own home-raised chickens do.

Last night when it was time for the chickens to go into the coop for the night, Momma Hen apparently could not figure out how to get herself and her babies into the coop. She was hunkered down in the corner of the pen, on the ground, with her babies under her like she intended sleeping there.

gate slightly open interesting jpeg

Our chicken coop with open peak roof for ventilation.

Even with food I could not coax her into the coop and it dawned on me that her former coop was right on the ground. It was getting dark and I saw no other alternative but to get out the fishing net. Being netted does not hurt a chicken but it is rather a traumatic event for them. While Gene netted Momma Hen I scooped up the five babies and we secured them into the coop. I hated to do this but saw no good alternative as she needed to be safe.

head up good

Momma Hen, has been named “Clover” by our granddaughter.

After dark we check on her one more time and she was sound asleep in the corner of the coop between the cardboard box and the door on the sand litter. I hoped she would sleep in the box for a bit of warmth. Another lesson was needed.

Winterized USE

We insulated and closed off the ventilation of the roof for winter.

Around 8:30a.m. The next morning I decided to open up the shutters that cover the window screening to see the daylight. When I peeked through the window she and the babies were in the box – lesson one was learned.

I also opened the coop door as I wanted her to learn to come down the gangplank as a way of getting in and out of the coop.  I tried chick-chickening her out of the coop with more food her but there was no way she was going to be tricked. So I left her and walked back to the house. A few minutes later she and her babies were on the ground and the food tray was empty. Success – Lesson Two!

Cold Weather is Coming:

It’s been 50 degrees at night but a freeze is being predicted as well as rain. So today’s big project was to winterize the coop. This included making trim pieces framing to hold in the winter covering and add hook and eyes to hold up the window shutter when I want to open them up.

Traingle roofline

The unpainted thin wood strip acts like the frame on a door to hold the winter peak cover.

The peaked roof of our coop is built with open gables so that in the summer there is ample ventilation.

real close triangles

The two pieces of the peak cover primed with BIM.

Our plan is to add 2”of pink foam insulation doubled to make it 4” of insulation. Today we cut a piece plywood into triangles to cover the ventilation openings for winter warmth. Gene did the construction and I did the painting.

We need this done by the freeze tomorrow.

Small House Homestead, Donna

Moving the Chickens Home

Last night we picked up our newly adopted chickens. The family who previously had them now has close to 40 chickens, too many for their coop and available time. So we brought home a momma hen and her five babies.

eating good-five babies show

Our new momma hen and the five chicklets!

The story goes that this determined momma hen disappeared into the woods, laid her eggs, brooded them and a few days after they hatched she proudly walked back out of the woods with her little ones to show them off. Almost like a children’s story book!

The breed is Phoenix an ancient Japanese breed of chicken that traces its heritage back over a thousand years. This is an ornamental breed usually used for show, I am told.

Momma watching me USE

This good little momma hen is on guard!

This late in the season I could have chosen all adult hens for their eggs, but I do like the idea of a little family and feel that choosing “chicklets” will give them more time and opportunity to bond with me.  I also think that my 5-year-old grand daughter will fall in love with the idea of a momma and her babies.

Watching out good

Watching out over her flock.

I’d been researching in preparation for the big move and found myself a bit worried about stressing them out.  So I took some extra precautions, during the move and for the few days after the move.

It is October and about 50 degrees at night so I did not have to worry about them over heating during the ride home. We moved them in a soft-sided cardboard box and moved them late in the early evening. This late in the day timing was recommended to me by a chicken loving friend to let them acclimate slowly to their new surroundings. She also suggested waiting for a few days before trying to be-friend or socialize them.

I admit I m a bit nervous to have these late in the season babies to care for.

In their old home the hen was used to eating just cracked corn and an hour or two of free ranging.  I want to convert them to Organic feed instead so had that feed ready. I also knew from working with dogs to go oh so slowly with feed changes, so I bought some of the same cracked corn they were used to from the farmer we got the chickens from. I began to add the new feed to their mix very slowly. I experimented with about 1/3 of a cup of the new feed each day.  I’ll increased the amount of the new feed a bit more unto the change-over is complete.

I’ve been waiting so long to have them that I was very tempted to start giving them the apples, pears and acorns I had gleaned, but held off to prevent any issues with digestion or diarrhea. So I will introduce this new food very slowly too. Their pen is filled with grass so I knew that the greens would help to see them through the first few days.

I am being very careful with our Labrador Sassy (a trained bird dog) and not letting her near the pen until the chickens get settled. Then I will still move very carefully because she has to be re-trained to not go after momma’s new chickens. I’ve steeled myself to losing one or two of them and that is why I took six of them home instead of the three egg layers that I really want.

More Tips on moving chickens

  • Change and travel are stressful for chickens and they quickly succumb to overheating, so try to move them at night and keep their journey as short as possible.
  • Transport them in a chicken crate, pet carrier or strong cardboard boxes. Cardboard generates warmth so it’s not the best choice in summer. Remember to make plenty of large air-holes and use string to securely tie the boxes shut – chickens are stronger than they look!
  • Avoid overcrowding the birds. They should have enough room to stand up and turn round.
  • Spread a layer of bedding in the bottom of the boxes. You must provide the birds with food and water if travelling for more than eight hours – but in warm weather you should offer a drink more frequently than this.
  • Placing the boxes on the back seat rather than in the trunk allows circulation of air and you will be able to keep an eye on the temperature. Never leave chickens in a parked car on a warm day.
  • Apple cider vinegar in the chickens’ drinking water over the next few days will help them to deal with the stress of the move.
  • Bache Rescue remedy in the water also help with stress at time of moving.

Small House Homesteader and Chicken Keeper, Donna

 

Small House Homestead Nesting Box Details

I received some questions requesting more details and pictures about how we prepared our nesting boxes.  Here is the scoop.

Single Nest box empty-before

The nesting box, before.

In the past I used stray or hay in our nest boxes but since we have several bags of wood shavings on hand that is left over from wood projects, my husband decided to try shavings this time.

Bubblewrap inside USE

Step one; bubble wrap as liner.

Kathy the Chicken Chick www.chickenchick.com uses a neat looking, washable, vinyl nest box liners she purchases on-line.  I brainstormed using bubble wrap since I have so much of this wrap left over from my art gallery days. I really like the idea of a washable and reusable liner but for now, I will go with what is free. I will simply replace this as needed.

Shavings inside USE

Step two; Add absorbent wood shavings (no wolmanized wood used.)

We gently molded the wrap to the size of our nest boxes and added the wood shavings. Easy peasy!

Nest boxes-shavings-sand USE

The completed boxes from inside the coop. We are using sand as litter.

Wood shavings (dust extracted, not sawdust) is one of the most popular bedding materials for chickens, ducks and other poultry as they are relatively cheap and very absorbent and easy to use. Shavings keep smells down and reduce ammonia in the air from droppings that can cause respiratory damage and eye problems.

Shavings also provide insulation from the cold ground during harsh winter weather.

Be very careful when rearing young chicks or ducklings on wood shavings, wood shavings can kill ducklings because they will eat them when they are young. If shavings are introduced after 4-6 weeks, they are less likely to eat them than when they are newly hatched

We pick up the girls tomorrow and we will have to see what the girls like. I will keep you posted!

Small House Homestead chicken keeper, Donna

 

We are Now Included in the Homestead Directory

The term “homesteading” can mean so many different things to so many different people. From ranchers in the west to peanut farmers in the south the term homesteading dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before.

In today’s modern world, it really means taking back the land and learning to live off of it. Urban homesteaders in the city, backyard homesteaders in the suburbs and country homesteaders it is a movement that is growing by thousands every day.

Homesteading is really a new lifestyle of self-sufficiency.

Turning away from our fast-food lifestyle many have embraced the art of raising chicken, gardening and taking care of the day-to-day needs of our families without relying on the grocery store food chain.

Take some time to visit some of our favorite homesteading blogs and take a closer look into the lives of homesteaders across the country.

If you would like to read more go to This Simple Life at http://oursimplelife-sc.com/homesteading-blogs/ and look for the Homestead Directory. There are some great homestead blogs there!

We are grateful to be included in this great collection!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

Fine-Tuning the Coop and Run

We spent the bulk of our outdoor work time yesterday tweaking the chicken coop and run in anticipation of the big hen adoption day, just seven days away.

Coop open nesting USE

The nest boxes and gangplank are now completed and on the coop.

We screwed the lid hinges onto the nesting box and filled it. We first used bubble wrap for a bit of cushioning in the bottom of the box. That was followed by wood shavings from Gene’s workshop. Both are repurposed materials which will be replaced as needed once they are soiled. The wrap will be washed out, dried and possible reused and the shavings will be tossed into our compost pile.

Nest boxes inside closer USE

Wood shavings in the nest box from the inside of the coop, sand as litter in the foreground.

Nest box side view USE

The hinges are now on the nest boxes and the boxes are filled.

We attached the gang-plank and poured the purchased organic chicken feed into the new plastic garbage can with a secure lid. I would have preferred a metal garbage can but I could not find one the right size locally, so this one was a compromise. All the chicken feed will be stored in our pole barn so I think we will be okay critter wise as our sunflower seeds and dog food have been secured in a plastic bin without any issues.

Natures Grown Feed bag USE

I am testing out Natures Grown Organics quality feed from our feed store.

Feed in new bin  USE

Two, fifty pound bags of organic chicken feed fill the bin about half way up.

I also took off the husks off of the gleaned field corn and stored the cobs in the same bin. We continue to gather and store the plentiful White Oak acorns from our property.

Acorns in bowl

Acorns collected from our property will be additional winter protein for the chickens.

I gathered some windfall apples yesterday from a nearby business and sorted those on my garden bench. They will become occasional treats and help acclimate the hens to their new home. We found a large cardboard box for the ride home and taped it and added holes in the side for air.

Winterized USE

The roof, ridge cap and open gables are now finished. The ridge cap and open gables (in the summer time) allows air in and out of the coop for ventilation.

I removed the white plastic twig bucket and horse manure compost buckets from inside the pen, picked up fallen sticks and generally tidied up the coop area. The next work day we will 1) hang the new smaller feeder and waterer in the coop, 2) fix up the shade and security corner (more details about that later) and 3) add the covers for the doors and widows. Then we are done!

We are on the serious chicken count down now!

Small House Homestead Chicken Keeper, Donna

 

 

NY Get-Away-Leaf Peeping in the Adirondacks

We took a short trip to visit family in Up-State New York last week. The weather and fall foliage could have not been more perfect and the photo opportunities there were sublime.

New York-Vermont Collage with text

Memories of up-state New York and Vermont October 2014.

The scenery in Washington County is steeped in history and I was thoroughly enticed by the many photo opportunities the trip presented; covered bridges, rustic barns, salt box houses, old graveyards, stone fences, blue skies and outstanding rivers.

Here are a few of the scenes I was able to capture. Enjoy!

Barn closejpeg

A rustic barn in Washington County, New York.

 

Grave curved top jpeg

This centuries old gravestone is aged and beautiful in its own way.

VERT tree-graves interestingjeg

Autumn color and a feeling of peace in a old rural graveyard.

Old Sushan & Eagleville w flags Jpeg

Even the Old Shushan & Eagleville Cemetery is picturesque. 

White bridge frontjpeg

Restored covered bridges are a part of the charm of rural up-state New York.

Painter-white building USEjpe

A plen air painter capturing the beautiful autumn scene near the 1874 Rexleich Covered Bridge.

Rexeich Bridge sign close jpeg

The sign says it all.

Saltbox House best USE

This lovely saltbox house caught my attention; plain and simple.

gate and stone wall USE jpeg

Stone walls crafted of local rocks are everywhere.

The wondrous colors of the leaves; in their vivid oranges, yellow and red were lovely. The peak period for this area generally occurs between the last week in September and until the third week of October.

Nice light on Sassy-USE

My family; husband Gene and our Labrador Retriever, Sassy.

Mother Nature cooperated once again as she exploded with awe-inspiring beauty.

Small House Homestead, Donna