Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thinking out loud (Rambling) about feed options

With the new flock of hens we had been purchasing whole grain feed from a friend that bought it by the pallet from a farmer just over the border in Nebraska.  It was organic with no corn or soy.  We fermented it in a 3 jar rotation, which smelled faintly funny (Chris and Indica would say bad), but the hens LOVED it.  During the hotter weeks of summer I didn't ferment, and the hens are quieter if we fed them 6 cups a day instead of the 4 fermented cups. (Read about why this is here)
Premixed whole grain means $$$

Alas our friends decided not to reorder feed, so we are back at pre-bagged pellets from the local feed store.

The price is way easier on the budget 22¢/lb vs 64¢/lb.  But as we know from our own food, cheaper does not mean quality.

In desperation I bought a bag of COB (corn oats barley) to ferment instead of 1/2 of the pelleted feed.  But even though the fermenting is nearly odorless, this is SOO not the answer.
It is geared towards horses for one. And as much as hens like it, it seems to decrease their egg laying. (for 2)

There is a feed company from Bellingham, WA called Scratch and Peck that would do the trick, but both distance (1,400 miles) and price ($1.36/lb) makes it less attractive.  Mixing it 1/2 & 1/2 would bring the price down (79¢/lb) or even 1/3 whole grain to 2/3 commercial. (60¢/lb).  But that doesn't address distance.  But if we mixed it and fermented the commercial pellets also (in in the basement instead of the kitchen counter), a possibility.  Scratch and Peck may be available in 50# bags locally according to the website, so I will check that out.

And should I be concerned about distance?  Sure Purina and Agland plants are in Colorado, but where do their grains come from to make the pellets?  Subsidised GMO corn and soy for sure.  But truly I have not done any research on this.
Info from the Elliot homestead blog

What about mixing our own?

The 2013 numbers from the Elliot Homestead blog were $1.07/lb for their organic feed mix.
The links for purchase of the grains were Amazon.  But this may be the best option until we can grow some of our own.

And really, why am I worrying about this anyway?  Maybe like everything else in the quest for more self sufficiently I should start small.  Say, for instance, planting sunflowers for seed along the fence both here and at the garden. Striving to keep the squirrels off of them may be all I can handle this year.

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