Growing chook food

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by sun burn, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Having watched that Future of Food documentary tonight, and on top of feeling despairing about how much chook food i am buying for my poultry (pain in the purse), i think i need to seriously figure out how to grow more chook and duck food. I've got room to do it i think.

    Can anyone make an estimate of how much area to devote to growing grain for chooks per chook and per duck?

    And what could i grow here in the tropics. I believe that sorghum will grow and corn. Anything else. Any tips or advice, feel free to share here.

    I think i need to get serious about this.
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    My suggestion is to not forget "weeds". They supplement my chooks diet. My girls don't free range so the only downside is that I have to do the harvesting. They grow easily any where you want to plant something else....
     
  3. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    That's a good tip. :p

    How can i forget weeds, they've almost taken over? In the wet season, they are simply out of control except by mowing which i don't like to do too often. I've noticed that the ducks and chickens take a bite out of them but they don't kill the plant mostly. Despite my weeding efforts, there will always be plenty here but its not enough to feed the chooks despite the abundance. Evidently they don't like them that much. Its really meat they are after with grain and sweet fruity scraps coming after.
     
  4. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Green harvest have a bit of stuff for chooks
    https://www.greenharvest.com.au/seeds/poultry_forage.html

    Your best bet is to give them heaps of space to roam and they will find much of their own food. My free range chooks are now really picky about what they eat, some don't like corn or cucumbers, green stuff is often a waste of time, what they want is grubs, worms, and anything that moves, a bit of grass, bit of this and a bit of that, they like the mixed "brought" grain mix, but I add a lot of extras into that, copper, garlic, sea kelp, dolomite. I have tied grown chook food beds but found that they trashed it in just a few days. Lots of room and free ranging a large area is the go.
     
  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I haven't done this yet, but have been seriously impressed by growing maggots and the perennial system that Paul Wheaton has developed. They're both in older threads.
     
  6. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    What should i put in the search engine to find the perrenial system you mention? I saw the maggot system. I don't want to do that at this point though i may change my mind down in future. Its mainly for my ducks that i need more food not the chickens. The ducks need twice as much cereal food as the chickens. I am already feeding them eggs for protein and I think they do alright with insects and other things. Its grain i need to grow i think.
     
  7. heftzwecke

    heftzwecke Junior Member

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    There are as well the trees, like acacia or tagasaste (something else in the tropics). And there are as well other systems for protein like the soldier fly ( I didn't get into this): https://blacksoldierflyblog.com/bsf-bucket-composter-version-2-1/
    We want to keep ducks. Is it true that they need the double grain rations than chicken?
     
  8. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    https://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp

    Also, Paul Wheaton posts here on the PRI forum, search for him by name. There's an interesting thread on that system of his.

    He'd probably be a good person to talk to about the ducks. He has his own forum on https://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums


    I think this depends on what you are trying to do. Ducks in the wild don't each much grain (and neither to chooks as far as I can tell), ducks I've watched eat lots of grass/weeds and the bugs therein as well as water life. Grain feed for poultry seems like a modern thing or at least a convenience thing. I would hazard a guess that poultry do well on a mix of protein and plant foods and grains can be a part of that but not necessarily a big part. I'm just posting this in the context of being able to raise birds without lots of external inputs, and growing lots of grain doesn't seem the easiest or most efficient way of doing that - likewise humans but lets not derail the thread ;-)

    That's all opinion from outside the coop of course.
     
  9. Dreamie

    Dreamie Junior Member

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    Have you though about some perennial plants such as comfrey, wormwood, tansy, yarrow? Planted in chicken wire domes so that only the excess growth is eaten and the whole plant isn’t destroyed? Could plant an apple tree etc with tansy at the base all covered in a dome so that when the apples fall the chickens get some food. (Some chickens are picky with some perennials so may be a bit of trial and error)

    What about Oats and Lucerne and even sub clover as a green manure? They would build up nitrogen in your garden and then the chickens can dig them in for you.

    What about some sunflowers?

    A Passionfruit, Choko or Grape vine on the chook run?
     
  10. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Of all the green I give our chooks the only one they always eat all of is Silverbeet (Swiss Chard).
     
  11. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    The essential factor is that i live in the tropics so a lot of things that are being discussed above don't grow here so well as down south. Ducks do eat grains they shave off the grass seed which is essentailly what grain is i think. The thing is there is not enough grass grain growing. I think grain has more calories than all the green leafy things that's why grain is more suitable for commerical poultry food i think. It also keeps better. Well that's what i understand about it anyway. I don't see my ducks eating too much grass - not enough anyway as far as i am concerned and they don't eat enough weeds either.

    I'm going to plant a mulberry for them but that won't last long.

    It seems pigeon pea is suitable. Sorghum and millet according to green harvest. I am not sure if buckwheat will grow here.

    i was surprised to notice that silverbeet didn't do any good here last year though my neighbour grew it well enough in his raised beds but they buy seedligns instead of raising from seed. Maybe i should buy seedlings for a while until i get better at growing vegies.

    I know chooks like cherry tomatoes. I need to grow more of these actually.
     
  12. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Different climates, that accounts for a lot.

    In the wild grasses don't have seed all year round (I assume this is true of the tropics too), so ducks must be eating something else most of the time.

    That makes sense about the calories. Thinking about it, the ducks I've seen eating grass alot, were eating short grass that was regularly mown. I'd hazard a guess that in the wild where there are no lawns ;-) or paddocks they don't eat so much grass (it's the short, juicy grass they are after).

    (are maggots quite fatty, therefore high in calories as well as protein?).
     
  13. JoH

    JoH Junior Member

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    I have started to try growing maggots but unbelievably thus far with no success yet, I seem to be able to grow them in the rubbish bin without trying. I have used 2 litre milk container and cut holes in around the handle for the flys to get in (have seen flys in there). There are holes at the bottom where the maggots are supposidly going to come out (and also any rotting liquid). I lined the bottom with straw then put some ham in and then topped with straw. The good news is that there is no smell. There are several things that I may have done wrong 1) used cured meat - perhaps the salt killed any maggots. 2) started trying on the hottest days of the year! (it is in the shade but still). Will continue working on it.....any ideas?
     
  14. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Maybe leave the top bit of straw off to start with. Have you seen any flies around the container? And I'd try uncured meat for sure.
     
  15. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    I agree Mischief. Silverbeet is definitely top of the list of favourites, followed closely by lettuce. I also harvest weeds and they always eat them but do have their favourites there too.

    Dreamie, I have wormwood, comfrey, tarragon and nastursiums growing in or next to our run. I've found they only eat them as a last resort, despite their medicinal qualities. So I'm guessing its more as a minor supplement than as a major food group sadly.

    Our neighbour lets some of the chook food sprout and feeds it to them through the fence (or they slaughter it in five seconds) and clearly its a favourite. He lets them at it and then takes it away to recover and then rotates 3-4 tubs this way.
     
  16. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Maybe this is a stupid question - but is feeding chooks grain like putting chips on the table and telling your kids to eat the spinach first? Are they really missing out on something if they don't get grain? I give it to mine because it seems to be the right thing to do - but surely chooks must have evolved to survive and thrive on a diet that didn't require processed grain?
     
  17. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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  18. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Well in one of the sites i came across it said that free ranging chooks still need 100g of grain food and ducks 170-200g per day so that suggests that there's not enough food out there in the garden. Geese on the other hand, can live happily on grass it seems. I am not keen to see my birds starve. Another thing if you are relying on getting their eggs there will be more if the birds are well fed I presume.
     
  19. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I think that's true about the egg production (that you need good nutrition), but I'm still not convinced that it has to be grain per se. It's like saying that humans have to eat grain in order to be well and reproduce. We don't, we can (and have and do) live well on protein, fat, plants and small amounts of carbohydrates.

    I'm curious why maggots or soldier fly larvae wouldn't be appropriate in your situation, sun burn.

    btw, I would consider grain and greens to be two separate food groups, not substitutes for each other. Like you say, grains are a far more concentrated source or energy (but you could get that from maggots etc too).

    Have you grown much grain in your climate? Maybe a small system of pasture cropping might work?
     
  20. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Pebble, its not that maggot aren't suitable for here its that i am not so interested in growing them. My birds already get plenty of protein because I give them a few eggs every day.

    Have I grown much grain? I am not sure what you mean? I haven't grown any as yet. Not much grain is grown here. Rice would be suitable to grow during the wet season. I'd like to grow some rice but i think its hard to get the seed.

    I think i will look into some of the options on the greenharvest website.
     

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