Homemade Feed Mix Questions for our livestock

minibackyardfarmer

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quick warning this is a bit of a long post...

the feed questions are broken up into sections since we have chickens and will soon have ducks and meat rabbits. so we are asking for each animal
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Okay, so I asked this same question over at BYC a few months back and got a little scolded with maybe 1% of helpful information if you want to call it that lol.

We will be moving to my aunt and uncles 5acre house/mini farm (one step closer to our dream of being more self sufficient... we are going to buy the property)... so our chickens will be able to free range finally. but when we are home since there are raccoon population issues there and will have to keep an eye.

but I was wanting to kind of get away from layer feed, only since I'm not a fan of everything that is in it that really doesn't need to be in it.

Right now the % of layer feed is cut back by 50% then what they were normally getting. My question is do chickens need the % of protein that is said they need so that they are healthy and lay etc.? If so then id really only want layer feed to be 25% max of their feed.

Aside from that the feed mix looks a little like this:
steamed rolled barley
steamed rolled oats
wild bird seed (byc people already scolded us for this lol, but our chickens are healthy and happy)
cracked corn (as an additive during winter time mainly, we don't give them a lot during the summer time other then what is in the bird seed mix)
sun flowerseeds in black oil
ground alfalfa
oyster shells

They also get maple leaves and rhubarb leaves which they love (but again ive been scolded for this because they are "poisons" to them but theyve had them since we got them and they could be outside 100% and still kicking after almost 3yrs and chickens we let them hatch and raise get the same), our grass clippings (we can't free range them where we live at right now), table scraps (we just don't do meat scraps, I've been told that it can make chickens cannibalistic I dont know how true that is but just haven't done it since we usually dont have meat scraps lol), and they also get bread, tortilla shells, etc. if we have extras or have them that go dry (I also make them their own loaf of bread once a week that I let dry out first and then give it to them, they tend to like the dried out stuff better than the fresh ones)

chicks get the same thing. we don't do chick feed (again that wasn't good to say on the other site lol). our chicks grow out nicely and have seemed to become hardier as chicks then our hatchery chickens that we got to initially start our flock.

Once we move and are free ranging is there something good to add to their feed for the colder months since they can't forage as much?

Would we be able to get away with not doing the layer feed?

Is there other type of grains that chickens like that a feed store may carry? We plan on doing some gardens (but they only get scraps from that since we do it for canning for us) and an small alfalfa mix field (oats mixed with it also) for hay for them.

my last question when it comes to chickens is can they have the tomato plant scraps? BYC told me no cuz its poisonous to them so we haven't, but in the same breath theyve gotten maple leaves and rhubarb leaves that weve gotten scolded for but are still living and love them. by plant scraps i mean the leaves and stocks. We were even told no on green tomatoes and too much tomatoes, but last year non of our ripped and we had a bunch so what we didn't use for canning (you only need a small % of ripped tomatoes to green tomatoes for canning believe it and you can't even tell you had green tomatoes in your sauce) we gave to them and they are still alive lol.

we have buff orps for their dual purpose and use them as meat birds also each yr out of those that we hatch out (naturally). We plan on getting barred rock pullets next yr to produce sexlinks to sell and for our meat birds (hatched chicks).
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We will be adding ducks next yr also for them to hatch out our duck meat source.

is there anything that ducks can't have that chickens can have? We plan on whatever we feed our chickens to feed our ducks too as additive feeds minus their free ranging. as both flocks (chickens and ducks will be in the same solar electric poultry fenced areas. we plan on doing padlock systems for them if needed)

we also will have a pond we just need to restock since (aunt and uncle had a haron issue last yr and get snapping turtles every now and then - which will be our turtle soup if we ever catch any lol.) planning on bluegill and fishing them out for meat sources. Is it good to give ducks (and chickens) the fish scraps like the inners, head and skeleton of the fish?

when we butcher chickens and when we do the ducks I use the inners (minus the intestines) for first batch of stock. after that though is it okay to give the cooked inners to them (I would mince them up)?

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we will be doing meat rabbits, but not in cages so say. We plan on doing a walk in rabbit run (with fencing on the bottom so they can't dig) with a female colony sort of. and I say sort of because we plan on doing ground wooden rabbit hutch kits that we can lock them up in at night just for added security just in case raccoon break ins (which i dont see happening but rather be proactive) this way they also have their own nesting areas that are covered. The males will be in ground wire cages in the colony and females introduced to them (one at a time) for breeding, this way we can control the breeds.

any ways we were wanting to do our own feed for them and making rabbit pellets only about 25% max of their feed, only to make sure they are getting the nutrients for sure they are needed.

my idea was:
steamed rolled barley
steamed rolled oats
ground alfalfa (we get this at the feed store)
timothy hay once in a while (bale, we would just have to watch that the kids give no scraps to the chickens because we were told this is a no no to chickens don't know why and I haven't looked it up)

aside from the grass and grass clippings we would give them. Is there anything else that is good for meat rabbits like: other grains or table scraps that are safe for them?

On the other forum I had asked about the bird seed we gave to the thickens only because the cotton tails we have in our yard now actually eat it if we put it out close to their den they have under our one porch, but I was told no that rabbits don't eat it not even wild ones (I didn't want to argue). I was also told no to corn rather fresh on the cob or crack corn (again our wild rabbits under our porch must not know this rule lol)... but figured I'd re ask here to just make sure.
 

NH Homesteader

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Well.. Since most of the people here on are either BYC or BYH or both you might not get any new answers...what are you trying to avoid in layer feed? I just feed my chickens layer pellets because I don't have the time or energy to get creative I guess! That's what I fed my ducks when I had them also.

Sorry I'm not helpful. I've found there's a million people with as many different ideas on how to feed chickens. I don't use my BYC account because it makes my head spin! They're... Chickens . Lol

But I don't let any of my animals, chickens included, eat my tomato plants. I've just read they're poisonous so I don't go there. :idunno
 

baymule

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I let my sheep and chickens in the garden this week to clean it up, neither has been interested in the tomato vines.

It sounds like you have a good diet lined out for your poultry. I buy a non GMO layer pellet for our chickens. They also free range and get scraps. I have a "chicken bucket" for them.

Chickens eat practically anything. We killed a snake, and the chickens ate it. Fish scraps? Check the eggs for taste, if no off flavor, go for it.

There are people on BYC that would spend hundreds of dollars on a vet bill for one chicken. Uh....in my world, sorry chicken, but you will not go to the vet for some expensive surgery to save your life. Just not happening. If I just offended anyone, too bad, I stand by what I said.

If your chickens like what you are feeding them, they are laying, growing, and healthy, then don't worry about it.

Grow greens for your poultry and rabbits. They love it and need the greens in their diet. You could buy whole barley and sprout it for them.
 

NH Homesteader

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Thank you @baymule . I was trying to be nice haha. I had a sick chicken once and looked on BYC to see what others had done for the same issue. There were pages of vet bills and expensive medications... Holy moly. We ended up putting her down when she looked like she was getting uncomfortable. We tried deworming her and one other cheap treatment. Sorry chicken but you're a chicken.

I like the barley idea. I give my chickens all our scraps pretty much. I'm actually pickier about what I give my pigs than I am about what I give my chickens.
 

sumi

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I can't answer you on the livestock other than chickens, though I think @Amiga may weigh in on the duck feed.

Chickens do need a minimum amount of protein for eggs (which are rich in protein) and body maintenance, feather replacement etc, so I won't compromise on that. Also calcium. If you do away with layer, supplement with crushed egg shell, or oystershell. Offer it on the side, so they can help themselves, when they feel they need it.

There are loads of recipes for homemade feeds on BYC, that you can get some ideas from: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/4477/everyone-post-your-best-homemade-chicken-feed-recipes/0_30

I kept a large flock some years ago and didn't feed layer for a long time. My birds all free ranged on good quality mixed pasture and got fed some scratch grains twice a day. They had bugs, alfalfa, kitchen scraps, windfall fruit etc to feed on and they did great. So it can be done, but it depends on the quality of grazing, what is available to them, etc.

Millet is a nice seed to grow for them. Mine harvested it right off the plants. Much of my vegetable too… Beans, tomatoes, etc.
 

lcertuche

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Okay, so I asked this same question over at BYC a few months back and got a little scolded with maybe 1% of helpful information if you want to call it that lol.

I belong to BYC too and have had a few scolds myself. It seems that if you don't want to use expensive formulated feed then you are a bad chicken mama. Well what did they feed chickens before the invention of flock grower? Well the answer is what ever the chickens could find. Maybe they grow slower but my birds have always laid. I didn't even know there was such a thing as laying feed for a long time. I always gave my birds, goats, calves, and pigs the same grains. It was usually half corn and half wheat and whatever hay, grass, scraps they could get. I don't want to have to worry about what to do if feed stores shut down or otherwise know as WTSHTF. My hens always laid. I kept them penned up in the garden during the winter most of the day and free range all summer, spring and fall. In the summer they hatched out chicks (no chick starter) and their mamas raised them but then again they were game birds. I don't know how my red production hens I have now will do but I am seriously thinking of just getting a couple of game hens for this alone instead of buying chicks. My free range chickens eat anything that doesn't eat them, literally. One will run by with a frog, mouse, lizard, small snake, etc. dangling from its mouth with the other chasing it to steal the treat. I do like to ferment the grains to make them go farther and its probably healthier too for their gut.
 

frustratedearthmother

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My birds get a bit of feed tossed at them both morning and evening - but they do free range and have to scrounge for the biggest part of their daily intake. Leftovers that they can snatch up before the dogs work too. I even caught some of my hens fishing for tadpoles this summer.

I do think that the smaller, rangier game birds are better suited for what you are talking about. In the winter (what little bit of winter we get) I do subsidize their intake a little more and I usually do use a 'layer' feed. I think the bit of extra protein helps them in the winter when their normal bug/lizard/snake prey has disappeared.
 

Mini Horses

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Some grains produce more heat when digested. Corn is one, plus the oils in the whole kernel are good for them. I toss sunflower seed out -- high protein. They eat bugs, worms, etc. again, protein. I do free range them all. I do pen them at night -- well 80% of them as a few won't coop but go to a high roost in my equipment barn.

I do buy some scratch feed, mix of barley, oats, corn, milo. In spring & summer, some of these actually sprout and I let them mature for the seed to feed them. It's a treat then. LOL. Also throw out bread about 3 times a week. They LOVE bread. MOSTLY they free range for feed. Winters I do more. Sprout some wheat, barley for sprouts/greens, cut & toss some pumpkin or winter squash, turnips, leftovers, etc. and a 16% layer in hen house for breakfast from feeder.

During molt I do buy a bag of game bird feed as the high protein helps with re-feathering, also some dry cat food tossed to them once in a while & toss out more BOSS. Oil & PROTEIN for those new feathers quickly, to get back to laying.

I'm like Baymule, will help them stay healthy, won't let them suffer, will medicate a slight injury but, bad one? Sorry...

Hay is big here -- minis, pigs, goats. A bale with lots of seed, or straw with wheat heads -- wet & let it sprout for the chicken pen. Just put it out there & they will love it, eat sprouts, tear it apart and pulverize it.
 

NH Homesteader

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This is interesting. I tried to go on BYC get more information but I quit because... It's too intense about chickens over there. so I'm glad you're talking about this here.

I want to try fermented feed. Right now we just use layer pellets and scraps but there are some good ideas here I'm mulling over now!
 

frustratedearthmother

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Last "winter" I did fermented feed for my chickens and my pigs. They loved it! I quit when the weather gets hot here because while fermented feed is good - rotten is not! I'll probably start again as soon as it cools off a bit more here.
 
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