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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Countdown to Operation Chicken Rescue

Bought the storage cans… check. Bought the chicken feed, check… Bought the heater for the waterer, check…Coop ready, check…We are nearing the count down to our big chicken rescue adventure!

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Today I made the trip to Holland, a 45 minute drive from our home to stock up on chicken feed. I had a number of errands to run as well so I combined the trip as we always do to save time and gas. I shop for feed at Pier’s Feed and Country Store, an animal feed store to get the best price and product. We purchase our dog food, songbird thistle and now chicken feed there as well.

Coop in run in setting USE

Our new chicken coop in its fenced in run.

My plan is to feed our chickens organic, non GMO, feed only. I was very surprised and pleased to find organic chicken fee (with 16 percent protein) at my feed store. In addition to this bag of mixed grains and proteins, I will supplement with kitchen scraps, bugs/meal worms/crickets, and crab apples from our tree, home-grown sunflowers seeds and green fodder and ground acorns from our White Oak trees which are high in protein and will be saved for the cold winter months.

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Selling Kent, horse and livestock feed.

I’m told that this small flock of hens is just being fed cracked corn, so I suspect they will think they are taking a vacation at the chicken B & B!

Our flock will be somewhat confined in their run due to our trained bird-dog so they will depend on me to provide them with healthy and nutritious feed.

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Lots of products and choice.

I’ve been doing quite a lot of research on feeding your chickens and this is what I know to be true:

DO NOT Feed Your Chickens This:

  • Don’t feed your chickens anything you would not feed your family
  • Do not give chicken leftover cooked dry/baked beans
  • Raw potato peels
  • All soy product contain GMO’s soy so if you wish to be GMO free, skip the soy
  • A lot of bread as bread breaks down to sugar and make your birds nervous or aggressive
  • Cat food
  • If you feed flowers make sure they have not been treated with pesticides.
  • Anything too salty, spoiled, or anything moldy

DO Feed Your Chickens This:

  • Raw potato peels
  • Watch your protein levels and aim for a minimum of 16%-20% protein
  • Keep grit available at all times, grit can include; Oyster shells, sand grit, ground egg shells
  • Calcium is also important; Oyster shells, organic milk ensure that chickens are getting enough calcium to produce eggs.
  • Apple cider vinegar added to the water will help to keep the chickens healthier and free from disease.

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If you do need, or want, to make your own organic chicken feed mix here are two recipes you might like to try.

Ingredients for Making Homemade Organic Chicken Feed

Recipe 1

7 to 8 parts organic whole corn 3 parts organic soft white wheat 3 parts organic hard red winter wheat 2 parts organic oat groats 1 to 2 parts organic dried milk 1 to 2 parts fish or organic soybean meal 1/2 part ground oyster shell 1/10 part salt

Recipe 2

3 to 4 parts organic whole corn 2 to 3 parts whole organic wheat 1 part dried organic milk 1 part fish meal 1 part oyster shell 1 part grit 1/2 part salt 1/2 part cod liver oil

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_5137841_make-organic-chicken-feed.html

If you would like more sources for on-line organic chicken feed, try any of these options below:

Small House Homesteader and now Chicken Keeper, Donna

The Homesteads Chicken Coop Unveiled

In about two weeks we are adopting five hens who need a new home. This means we are now building a mostly recycled chicken coop, run and dusting box. Our goal for our chicken coop, run and dusting box project is to spend as little out-of-pocket cash as possible while building a safe and sturdy home for our new chicken friends.

Coop walking into run USE THIS as ONE

I’ve been scrounging materials for a chicken coup for the past few years. Of course I perused Craig’s List (where I found some rusted chicken wire for $20.00) talked to friends and then I hit the jackpot one day while taking a drive along nearby scenic Lakeshore Drive between South Haven and Saugatuck. That bonanza included two large heavy pieces of exterior paneling someone had put alongside the road.

Sealed inside exterior plywood

If I had known in advance how beautiful the exterior grade paneling would turn out after being sealed, I might have put it on the outside not the inside of the coop!

According to the handwrittten words on the outside of these panels they once covered the porch windows of an old cottage. I knew immediately this wood could be the outside walls of a cozy chicken coop. My husband believes the wood is redwood, though I vote for cedar, and its dryness definitely indicates it is very old. These pieces were difficult to cut and the edges tended to split, but we managed to make the siding work in spite of that snag. A few pieces had to be repaired with exterior clear caulk or shims.

Another friend recently removed an old rotting deck and happily gave us as many 2′ X 4’s as we could remove and carry away before she burned the rest of the wood. We salvaged 38, 2′ X 4’s and several other wood pieces of various sizes.

Coop frames from 2 X 4's

The 2′ X 4″ frame being built. In the left of the photo is our vegetable garden and in the rear/left  of this photo is our future chicken run.

What we wanted; We needed a coop that was sturdy enough to not blow over in the heavy winds that blow in off of nearby Lake Michigan, sound enough to protect the poultry from the heavy Michigan snow and to be secure enough to keep the critters out. Cute would be a bonus!

Our Chicken Coop Siteing:

Location: We choose to locate the coop in the back side of our fenced in vegetable garden under the shade of a large White Oak tree.  I wanted the chickens to have shade in the summer and sun in the winter. This location was perfect for that. The prevailing winds blow in here from the west so if we have a breeze blowing through our property it will help to keep the girls cool.

Tree and coop USE

Sitting under the White Oak tree nestled against the 15-acre forest will be a cool and shady place for the coop.

This site will also be somewhat protected from sun, wind and rain as it is nestled up near our pole barn and a distance from the house in case of odors and allowed us to use one end of our existing vegetable garden fencing as our primary run. We added the Craig’s List smaller-holed chicken wire over our exiting garden fence to make it even safer from predators.

Coop Size: This was built 48” X 48” because that is how the pieces of available paneling worked out.

An Off-the-Ground Raised Coop: We built a raised coop for airflow and safety. Also because we had some severe ground water flooding in 2009 and having the coop on “stilts” might make for more comfort and less feet issues should we ever face that water problem again. In addition being on  legs keep the floor of the coop away from the frozen ground.

Free 2” X 4’s: We got 24 2” X 4’s free from our friend; all we had to do was make an hour’s drive and pull the decking apart. Of course this repurposing works takes more time and effort than buying new but costs less, a real plus.

Latches: We took great care to buy secure latches and other hardware to keep the raccoons out.

Big latch close

Sturdy latches will help to keep the coop secure.

Our Chicken Coop Construction:

Using Repurposed Wood: Be aware that working with reclaimed wood does have its challenges. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra effort and labor costs. Hidden nails need to be remove sometimes the boards need to be re-planed. Often the pieces are not square and have flaw that need to be either be fixed or revered. on the other hand there can be one-of-a-kind interesting aspects about old wood as well.

Our Process: We used the 2 X 4’s to make a frame and then built and added the sides one at a time. Then added holes for laying box, hole for door and walkway and so on.

Holes from inside

An early view of then inside of the coop showing nest box holes, door to come in and out and window.

Paint Color: I painted and sealed the boards before the coop was assembled as it was much easier on the painter (me!) that way. I choose to paint the outside of the coop a medium brown color called “Rich Earth” using a gallon of Dutch Boy Grand Distinctions (paint and primer in one) in a color that we had on hand. This was originally a $6.00 “Opps” paint. This is also the color of the trim on our house and happened to be quite near the color of my friend’s brown deck. We had almost an entire gallon on hand and it took every bit of that gallon by the time the coop was completed.

Sealing: I choose to polyurethane the inside of the coop for help in keeping it clean. I figure that no liquids will seeps into the wood and scraping or washing will be easier with sealed wood and any parasites will be less likely to drill themselves into the wood.

Hinged Access Doors: My husband designed this coop to have two sets of double access doors, with openings; one on both sides. Both doors open outward and have some serious iron barn-door-like raccoon-proof hardware on them. These doors are for my daily feeding access and for ease in feeding, cleaning and airing the coop out.

IMG_3225

The hinged access doors are open. This will give me a easy and complete access to the coop for cleaning out.

Windows: Airflow is very important to chickens so Gene made windows on all four sides using hardware cloth and pine pieces as a window frame. More painted pine pieces will be used as “winter coverings” to keep out the cold and wind. We are painting those coverings now.

hardware cloth window in frame

Hardware cloth over the windows for spring, summer and fall airflow.

Door: Gene used a piece of matching exterior siding and pine strips to make the doors.

Roost: We choose a 2 X 4’ board for a roosting boards that I sealed with poly and Gene shaved down with his collection of old hand tools to make a more rounded piece for ease in holding on. We are hoping that all five chickens will be happy to roost on one long board.

Floor: We decided to use a piece of solid plywood for the coop floor and purchased that. I gave it three coats of poly to help to protect it. After pricing a piece of linoleum at Menard’s (around $79.00) we put out the call to our friends for linoleum and a co-worker gave us a piece left over from his house remodel. This vinyl flooring material also makes for easy clean-up and prevents mites and other parasites from burrowing into the wooden boards.

Linoluem before USE

Vinyl flooring remenent now covers the plywood floor. The sealed pine board edge strips will help hold in the sand litter.

Sand as Litter: Based on the recommendation of Kathy the Chicken Chick, http://thechickenchick.com we purchased sand to put on the coop floor as litter. We happen to have a gravel company a few miles from us so we stopped in one day to ask about prices and sand types. After recovering from the shock that having sand delivered was going to cost us $100.00 for the labor and the sand just $7.00 to $8.00 a yard, we decided to borrow a friend’s trailer and haul it ourselves. Kathy uses about 2 yards a year so I expect that we will too.

Gene standing in trailer USEjpeg

Sand was hauled home in a borrowed trailer.

Feeders: I have a vintage metal chicken waterer and feeder from when we had chickens about a decade ago (pre-flooding!) So we got those out, washed them out and plan to use them again. From my on-line research we decided to hang them from the ceiling to keep ground critters out of the feed and to lessen the amount of scratch that falls out of the feeder onto the floor. We will also buy two small plastic feeders/waterers so we have them both inside and outside of the coop.

Coop-galnanized-duster-flag

Galvanized chicken feeder and waterer set the scene for our vintage coop set-up.

Roof: We had originally thought we would use roofing shingles on our roof, but the cost of new shingles on top of our other expenses was getting prohibitive. Again I put out a call for old shingles on Craig’s list and Facebook but then a friend offered us two pieces of white plastic corrugated plastic (two 2 ft. X 8 ft. pieces) for free. That what we decided to use and we decided we would do what we had to do to make those work. The freebie corrugated roofing material came up a bit short in width so we added white metal drip edge and some shims to make up the difference. The roof was topped with a long board that was pieced together to make a kind of ridge cap.

Roofing close USE

Looking like galvanized metal, this roof is actually made using corrugated plastic.

Chalet Décor: I found this cute metal sign at Word Market for $14.99-20% off. I added an old rake top I saved to hold chicken treats like hanging sunflower heads, corn cobs and so on.

Sign and rake

Run: We used one end of our existing vegetable garden so we did not have to put up run fencing around the coop.

Gate: We plan on eventually letting our chicken’s partially free range in our large raspberry bed after we get that fenced in.  This area will be for them to get some additional exercise, a place to scratch and for insect control.  We will eventually build a third gate for that extra run.

Metal gate alone

This metal came to as a gift.

The gate between the run and the vegetable garden is a nice metal farm garden gate a friend gave us when he dismantled a vegetable garden on his property. This way I will be able to let the chickens into the vegetable garden to scratch about late in the season.

Dusting Box: We built a simple dusting box using  pieces of wood from my girlfriend deck.  The wood was free and the sand was purchased from the sand and gravel business located about 2 miles from our home and hauled home in a trailer by us.

Nest box USE

A temporary dusting box. I am guessing with the year the chickens will have the coop area all dug up and then we will be adding sand and the base floor of the run.

Total of Materials Used & Material Costs:

Minwax Polycrylic Finish/Two Quarts @ $12.00 per quart =$24.00

BIM White Spray Paint: (to prime the pine boards) two @ $7.00 ea.= $14.00

Craig’s List Chicken Wire for the Run: $20.00

Large Roll of Chicken Wire Pen: $49.00

Hardware Cloth for Windows/Roof/Ceiling: $17.00

1 Piece of Plywood for Floor: $7.00

Heavy Duty Gate Hinges: $40.00

Hooks and Latch Hardware: $25.00

1 X 2” Pine Wood for use to Frame Windows/Floor/Shims: $17.00

Metal Drip Edge for Roof: $12.00

Decorative Sign $12.00

Sand as Litter:   $8.84

Kitty Litter Scoop: $4.00

Feed: To be determined….

Items that were free, given as gifts or that we had on hand in our barn:

Exterior Grade Tung and Groove Siding: (roadside rescue) $-free

Linoleum for Flooring: (a gift) $-free

Brown Paint/Primer: (We had this on hand)

Metal Garden Gate: A gift from another friend $-free

5 Hens: (a gift from a friend) $-free

Corrugated Plastic Roofing Material: (a gift from a friend) $-free

Old Plywood for Winter Windows Covers: (from our old coop) $-free

2” Pink Foam Insulation: (had this on hand) $-free

Total cash out of pocket for coop, pen and dusting box came in right around $250.00.

We know we may face the need for a closed or a covered run at some point. We have most of the roll of chicken wire left over we are prepared for that eventuality should we need it.

Next we buy three metal trash cans and chicken food. Then I can’t wait to pick up our chickens!

Small House Homesteader (and soon to be chicken keeper) Donna

 

70 Degrees Outside/I’m Busy Collecting Acorns for the Chickens

We are having a bit of a warm up on our homestead weather this week; sunshine and 70 plus temperature days. So I’ve been out collecting acorns for the chickens as we are enjoying a banner year in acorns here in SW Michigan.
east Oak house planter shows air con
Our Small House home is nestled among the majestic White Oak trees, front view
You may recall we have 47 White Oak trees on our 5-acre property and many, many more trees in the 5-acre woods behind us.  They start falling here in early September and continue on throughout October. They fall with a loud ping onto the roof of our metal pole barn and three-seasons roof and even Sassy jumps when a falling acorn has a direct hit with a loud clang.
From back show porch-garden tree canopy NICE
The rear view of our home sitting among the Oaks. From these oaks we took our property and business names; White Oak Studio & Gallery, White Oak Blacksmith Forge and White Oak Acres. 

 

Because they are so prolific this season, I’ve been researching using acorns as chicken feed supplement and have discovered some amazing facts:

  • Acorn nutmeats are very high in fat
  • Acorns have 1700 calories per pound
  • Chickens love them

So, I’ve been collecting our White Oak acorns by the masses and putting them aside to crush and feed to the chickens this winter. I don’t intend to make crushed acorns their entire meal but rather will supplement their corn and grains with them as a treat and winter calorie boost.

Acorns in bowl

A sampling of our nutritious native acorns

 

I started by researching and as a result of what I  have read, I set them out on pans to dry for a couple of weeks. I picked carefully through them to make sure there were no worms involved and will store them in plastic buckets with a secure lid. I want ot be very careful that  the mice and other critters do not find their way into my stash. I had saved a few Epsom Salt buckets not knowing at that time how I would be using them. But now I know!

Turn around bed by sky

An early spring view before the White Oak trees have leafed out. Our White Oaks play a huge role in our life here

 

Acorns are apparently high in calories and that is just what my chicken’s need in Michigan’s cold winter months.

The kind of acorns I am collecting this year are falling hard onto our pole barn metal roof which is apparently knocking the little caps off of them. So when I pluck them out of the grass I am picking just the acorn with its shell. This makes my preparation job a bit simpler.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The carved wooden sign I had made for the side of Gene’s White Oak Blacksmith Forge

 

When it comes time to feed them to the girls, I’ll use an old hammer and crush them down to the nutmeats, and toss them into the coop or onto the ground. Over the course of the year I also hope to supplement their commercial feed with sunflowers, gleaned corn, kitchen scraps, dried and crushed egg shells, our crabapples and homegrown green fodder. Next season, I’ll be growing Amaranth, comfrey and wormwood too.

My goal is to give my girls excellent nutrition, with healthy treats and rely less on purchased Industrial foods whenever I can.

And isn’t the goal of  sustainability to grow or collect as much of your food as you can! Happy eating!

Donna, Small House Homestead