Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mixing Chicken Feed

Tuesday was chicken feed grain mixing day. This was only our second time mixing a batch of chicken feed. In one of my first posts I gave the recipe I'm currently using. So far so well. Once I began giving the chickens this feed, they wanted nothing to do with their crumbles and I don't blame them. They love the oats, barley, wheat and corn. I'm not sure how much of the meal they eat, or if they just push it out of the feeder to get to the grains. I don't think I'll buy alfalfa meal again. They love alfalfa hay. I think I'll just give them a small amount of hay once or twice a week. I'm not sure how much nutrients are still in the meal by the time it gets to us. Who knows when the alfalfa was ground into meal and how stale it is. Well here are some fun photos of Noah helping mix grain. Above is a photo of Noah giving the birds some kitchen scraps. They pretty much expect scraps daily when we let them out. It is probably one of the healthiest parts of their winter diet, comprised mostly of vegetable scraps with a few crusts of whole made multigrain bread and sometimes goat cheese dairy leftovers.
Noah is my mix-master. This is the perfect job for Noah. Lets just say that Noah lives to dig and scoop and dump. And to help me measure out a hundred pounds of grains and meal and then mix them all together in a big tub, he was in heaven. I had to distract him in order to start scooping the mixed ingredients into a lidded garbage can...he would have played in the tub of grain all afternoon if I'd let him.

Noah mixing about thirty pounds of corn into all the other ingredients.
Go mix-master!

Above is a picture of my most prized ingredient, Alaskan Salmon Meal. Fish meal, crab meal and soybean meal are all high protein ingredients. When I first began researching fish meal, I learned that there is a wide range of quality in the different types of fish meal, and that it was important to find out what kind of fish were in the meal, where the fish are harvested and how the meal is processed. When I purchased the bag of salmon meal the lady at the register didn't know anything about it. I figured I would just buy it and check out the bag and company when I got it home. When I saw that it was Alaskan Salmon Meal from Kodiak Fisheries I was so stoked. I think it has got to be one of the better fish meal sources. This is a fifty pound bag and it is one one of the higher dollar ingredients. I'm adding about five pounds to each hundred batch of mixed feed, so I figure this bag is going to last me at least six to nine months depending on how many birds we get this spring.

Here is a picture of about four pounds of flax seed. Omega fatty acids are quite the buzz word today. For humans and most animals, flax seeds and other small seeds like sesame need to be ground for us to get anything out of them - otherwise they just pass through without being digested. I think the chickens are better suited to eating flax seeds just as they are. The other thing about ground flax seed is that it goes stale really fast, so if you are grinding it, keep it in a cool place (fridge) and only grind up as much as you can consume in a couple weeks. We use a five pound bucket to weigh all the ingredients. I thought different ingredients would vary greatly in weight, but pretty much this bucket full of any of the ingredients is five pounds.

Whole grains are amazing. I've heard a cool quote that I wish I could remember. But what other foods can you drop on the ground and instead of going to waste they start to grow. In the center of this photo are red winter wheat berries, they are one of the more expensive ingredients, but oh so nutritious.

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