As a chicken farmer, you can now easily buy feed online. They’re everywhere! On the other hand, you make them at home. In doing so, you will not only save money, you can also choose the ingredients you want as well as the right amount to use. But then, you should first know their nutrional content and how much your chickens need. In the past, many homesteaders who have foreign breed of chickens thought that they cannot make their own feed. This is probably because they are afraid that they may need an exact formulation for them. But the truth is, there’s really no secret or perfect recipe for making homemade chicken feed. You can even do some experiments.
- Below are some of the common ingredients that you can use.
- Ground Corn (Maize)
- Soybean Meal
- Hulled barley
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Ideally, the percentage amount of corn and wheat is about 30 percent each, while the rest is about 10-20 percent each. To avoid losing some of their nutrients, you might want to use whole grains. When buying the ingredients, make sure that they are fresh. You might also want to use organic instead of those treated with some chemicals. To mix them together, avoid using shovel because the ingredients may be not be distributed uniformly if you don’t mix them well. Instead, use a mechanical mixer or a small drum mixer. If you will not feed them yet, store them in a cool place to prevent molds. Once active, these molds contain harmful chemicals called mycotoxins.
Feed Additives for Laying Hens
Aside from the ingredients, you can use some additives. If you are raising chickens for egg production, your hens need extra calcium to produce stronger eggshells. So far, nothing beats oyster shell for being the main source of high calciuim. However, oyster shells are only for chickens that lack calcium. Roosters and baby chicks don’t need them. You should also understand that chickens younger than 18 weeks of age don’t need feed that has high levels of calcium. This is because at this stage, they are not yet capable of laying eggs. Therefore, giving them extra calcium can cause them serious kidney problems. This can also affect their egg production or may shorten their lifespan. These young chickens or pullets also need about 17-18 percent protein. But if they are only 7 weeks of age and below, they may need about 20 percent of protein. At this stage, you may want to give them a complete starter feed only. As they grow older, you can now start feeding them with leafy greens like clover, alfalfa, and lettuce. If you are planning to feed your hens with oyster shells, put them on a separate bowl. Then, separate the hens that you think are suffering from calcium deficiency from the healthy ones. This is to make sure only the hens that need extra calcium can eat them. Also, oyster shells should not be fed as chicken grit, which has a different purpose. On the other hand, amino acids are additives that help maintain a balanced diet for fast growth. Some of the known essential amino acids for chickens are arginine, coccidiostat, cystine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, and lysine. You may also want to add probiotics, which are made of ‘good’ bacteria that fight off the ‘bad’ bacteria.
As mentioned earlier, homemade chicken feed is more economical than buying commercial feeds. On average, 80 percent of the total production cost goes to feed. On the other hand, those who make DIY (Do it yourself) feed usually spend only 50 percent for the feed. Therefore, this is a great money saver and can lead to higher profit.