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Poultry Feeds

Poultry feeds are a crucial, and often overlooked aspect of flock management.  While everyone knows (or should know) that flock nutrition is important, very few poultry owners have the time, the energy or the interest to pursue this complicated topic very far.  Instead, most owners go get bags of feed from the feed store, grumble about the cost, and figure that's the price we pay for having poultry.  Yet consider:

  • feed costs are frequently the single highest expense for flock owners
  • feed value impact both egg laying quantities, and quality, including shell breakage
  • a well-rounded feed ration can provide the flock with most of what they need to stay healthy, whilee a poor ration almost guarantees health problems.
  • Flock owners, armed with the knowledge of what their birds need, can drastically reduce their feed costs.

Given the above, we have compiled a great deal of information about poultry feeds, poultry nutrition, and feeding options.  We hope this information will help both hobbyist and commercial flock owners make educated decisions about how best to feed their birds. 

I should note here that a single website, let alone a single section of that website, cannot ever hope to provide every last piece of information on such a large topic.  Instead, what we hope to achieve some specific, more modest goals:

  • make the flock owner aware of the basic concepts in flock nutrition
  • provide concise guidance for making choices
  • provide specific, proven recipes for those who wish to blend their own
  • provide introductions to some of the controversial aspects of poultry nutrition, and provide some balanced, objective information about those controversies
  • provide links to additional sources of information on various nutritional topics 

So with those guidelines in mind, let's proceed.

Poultry Nutrition Basics

All poultry feeds, regardless of ingredients or blends, must provide some fundamental categories.  On our Poultry Nutrition Basics page, we cover those basics.  We describe what they are, provide some examples of how they related to poultry production, and how to provide them in various feeds.  We also provide some additional resources so that anyone who wants more information can instantly find it.  With this information, flock owners will be able to make more educated decisions about how best to feed their birds, whether the flock is 5 or 50 or 500 birds.

Complete Feed Rations

When flock owners go to the feed store to buy poultry feed, they face a sometimes bewildering variety of options.  Many of those options are described as "complete".  On our Complete Feed Rations page, we describe complete feeds, how and when they are used, and why a flock owner might be tempted to shift over to something else.

Custom Mills

Most rural and even many suburban areas have feed stores, where small scale flock owners can buy their feed.  However, many areas also have small custom feed mills which are ready, willing and able to provide owners a variety of feeds.  These feeds are sometimes cheaper than what's available at the feed store, and a mill will often do custom blends where a feed store will not.  We'll look at custom mills, how to find them and what services they offer.

Homemade Poultry Feed

Should a flock owner make the switch from purchased feed to home-grown, and/or home-blended?  We look at that question on our Homemade Poultry Feed page.  Home blended feeds can often be cheaper than store-bought.  Yet there are additional issues to consider.  There is also the question of how best to introduce a homemade feed to the layer flock, so that all those benefits won't be outweighed by a surprise hiccup or two.  We look at all those issues on our Homemade Poultry Feed page.

Chicken Feed Recipes

Many flock owners and farms have come up with their own feed recipes, based in part on their experience, their available feed ingredients, and good old experimentation.  We share some of those recipes on our Chicken Feed Recipes page.  Universities, various feed or supplement companies and various professional nutritionists have also done decades of work on cost effective feed recipes for both layer and broiler flocks.  We've shared those recipes too.  If there was ever a cookbook of chicken feed recipes, our Chicken Feed Recipes page may very well be it.

The GMO Issue

Many flock owners and consumers alike are concerned with the recent proliferation of GMO crops.  They are particularly concerned that those crops have made their way into poultry feeds.  Some owners have worked very hard to avoid GMO contamination in their feed.  On our GMO Issues page, we'll discuss what strategies work, and which strategies don't, to protect ourselves and our birds from GMO contamination.

Nutrition for Pastured Poultry

Many poultry owners and consumers already know about, and appreciate, pastured poultry production.  Yet very little attention is given to the topic of feeding birds on pasture.  How can we estimate their constantly changing nutritional needs, and provide for them in a cost-effective way?  This page will look at those questions, and provide a lot of different options. 

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