Bulk Feed - Pros & Cons?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by highlands, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    We have enough animals now that in the winter we may use enough feed to make it economically worth buying bulk deliveries. In the warm months they are out on pasture but once the snows get deep it is hay. So I've been investigating bulk deliveries of feed.

    Is anyone else getting bulk deliveries of grains or pellet feeds?

    How do you like it? Pros? Cons? Tricks? Tips?

    What about mixing your own from minerals, cracked corn and roasted soy? Or something else?

    Today I learned about a feed from one of the local mills (Poulin) that is a basic ration for multiple different animals rather than having to store one for each. It has "all but copper" or "no copper added (NCA) minerals in it. Opinions?

    We have pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks. Our focus is on pasture raised. In the past we've fed hay, minerals, a little bakery waste (bread) and a very small amount of commercial feed sometimes (layer/sow).

    Thanks!

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Was just reading about multiple rations today and also about mixing yhour own ration. Problems indicated that the fine parts of the mix such as wheat bran, soy and cotton seed meal all sift to the bottom and get wasted. Solution to this is to have the feed mill mix molasses with them to keep the meal together. Some advantage to the molasses also in helping to prevent Ketosis in pregnant ewes, nannies etc.

    Would love to have the formula for their generic feed base.

    Also if you were raising sheep and goats together - how would you go about getting the goats their copper and keeping it from the sheep??
     

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I buy only bulk feeds and mix just about everything. The "pros" are all in the math. I'd go broke buying bagged feed!

    The "con" is storage. Bulk bins are nice, but I don't have any. I use gravity wagons, stored in sheds. Some of the sheds leak so I have to tarp the tops of the wagons. Not too hard.

    Getting the stuff from wagon to animal involves lots of 5-gallon buckets. I do up to 50 buckets a day depending on how many of what I currently have. One major tip is to be sure you can get your truck near the wagons. I fill the buckets, put them in my truck, then drive to the animals and dump the buckets.

    When the feed in the wagon gets low, you get to climb in and shovel it back down. Make sure you can get in the wagon! I have one that I have to do some acrobatics to get in too.

    I feed cattle with a belt feeder, so that wagon is parked near the feeder. I fill the buckets, turn around and dump them on the belt.

    I have four wagons at the moment. One for chicken feed, one for cattle feed, one to store soybean meal (that I buy in bulk) and one with oats in it (for the horses). Corn is kept in the grain bin.

    Make sure you wagons (or whatever you use) is accessible for the feed delivery trucks without a bunch of shuffling. I have those suckers parked and rarely move them. They are a pain to manuver in the shed.

    I grind all my own feed, but I have a 3-ton feed grinder. I take the grinder to the corn bin, then to the soybean meal wagon, then add my bases or supplements by bags. When it's all done, I dump the feed in the appropriate wagon. The feed grinder does a pretty good job of mixing the fines and that's not a problem for me.

    When I'm low on numbers, I use metal trash cans to store feed closer to the animals that need it. I can fill the cans from the grinder, then bucket it out from there.

    Feed and ingredients generally store well in winter. The heat of summer can cause mold problems, but then I have more stuff to feed in summer so I go through it quicker.

    You need to be able to keep it dry and clean. You need to keep mice, rats and birds out of it. You'd be surprised how word can spread amongst the bird population of the new restaurant in town....then they poop all over your feed (not to mention everything else) and it's a mess. A good solid shed stops birds. Poison or cats works for mice and rats.

    If you invest in a feed grinder, start looking for supplements or bases. Most of them only require corn and soybean meal. The bases have all the vitamins, minerals, etc for the species it is for. Also if you did buy a feed grinder...a scale is very, very nice. It saves you money by keeping your feed accurate.

    There are always three feeds...the one you are supposed to mix, the one you actually do mix and the one the animals actually eat. Getting all those three as close together as possible can be an art.

    Jena
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    PS...if you want molassas in your feed, don't put that in your own grinder, let the feed mill do it. It makes a gummy mess!

    Jena
     
  5. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    No goats here so it's theoretical for me. :) But perhaps you could build something that the goats can get to that the sheep can't. Maybe due to their width - e.g., plant two posts close together stops sheep most of the year - or height, etc. Or perhaps you could hand feed copper suplements to the goats.

    Or maybe you don't need to feed copper at all. We have a lot of copper (used to be mined here abouts) in our soil which is probably where our chickens and pigs get any they need as I don't feed copper because of the sheep. The copper in the soil doesn't seem to bother the sheep as there are a lot of them in the area.

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  6. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    I use a universal feed consisting of oats, cracked corn and soybean meal. I have it mixed at the mill and buy it by the ton.
    This feeds all of my animals.... horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and guineas. Each animal also gets their required salt, mineral or table scrap, which ever they need. I've been feeding this for over 10 years and have not had a problem at all.
    It's really handy if someone else does your chores for a day.They only need to know "how much" to feed each animal instead of "what" to feed each animal.

    Your county extension agent should be able to give you a formula for what grains grows in your area. This will keep the cost down too. For ours it's 860lb of cracked corn, 840lbs of whole oats and 300lb of soybean meal. Like I said earlier, the horses get added minerals, salt and whatever they need, the hogs get scraps, the chickens also free range around the farm. Each animal gets what it needs.
    I also have it bagged at a cost of $40. per ton. The bags weigh 100lb and come to around $8.00 each. LOTS cheaper than the feed store. :)
     
  7. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    Thanks, Cowgirl! That is just the sort of thing I've been wanting to hear about. I would love to know about any tricks and details people have to share. I may start out with bagged and then move to bulk bin delivery. I have been thinking of building a cover for the tractor and one wall of it could be the grain bins. Combining those projects helps with the cost of construction.

    Yesterday one of the grain reps stopped by. It was very interesting talking with him. I was expecting a sales push but he was very laid back and informative rather than salesy.

    We're going to ease into this if it makes financial sense.

    -Walter
    in Vermont
     
  8. kjerckie

    kjerckie Well-Known Member

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    When I raised Emus and goats, I bought 2 tons of emu pellets and two tons of grain, all in 50 pounds bags. Stacking on pallets was not the worst part.... mice! I was completely over run with mice within a few months. They wouldn't touch the mouse bait. If I were to do it again in volume, I'd get a silo. Until then I'm getting two bags at a time and storing in metal garbage can. I just have the bull now.
     
  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Bulk bags can be tricky. Those stacked pallets are mice heaven!

    I buy my poultry base 2 tons at a time. I put the pallets in the back of a grain truck. The steel bed and walls really help with the mice problems. I realize most folks don't have a large truck sitting around unused, but it might give an idea.

    Jena
     
  10. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    It does give me an idea. I happen to have a full size dump truck sitting around doing next to nothing... Thanks!

    -Walter
    Sugar Mtn Farm
    in Vermont
     
  11. sheeplady

    sheeplady Well-Known Member

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    We get our grain custom mixed, minimum 1000 pounds at a time.Twenty 50 pound bags. For storage, they get dumped into 55 gallon steel drums with lids.
    The steel barrels are rodent proof. If it gets too stiff in the cold weather(with molasses in it), I keep a hoe there to break it up some if needed. I use empty #10 cans as scoops and small 5 quart paint buckets to take it to the different paddocks. ( We raise sheep)
    The paint pails, which are easily available locally, are also used in the lambing pens in the spring for grain and water. We had steel bands welded for each pen to hold two pails. On opposite side of the pens ,have drop on wood hay feeders. They are only in lamb jugs for 3 -5 days, unless there is a problem.
     
  12. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Paul just traded for a small gravity wagon. Prior to that we were storing our feed in old chest freezers. We'd take the truck to the feed meal and have them load the bed with about 1000# of cracked corn, ground soybean, sugar beet pulp with added calcium. This is the standard fare for the pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks & guineas. Drive back home and shovel into the freezers.

    Now that we have the gravity wagon, we take that to the feed mill and back it into the barn. Made our lives a whole lot easier!