Poultry Production for the Homestead

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by BarredBuff, May 10, 2016.

  1. BarredBuff

    BarredBuff Well-Known Member

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    Kentucky
    I have raised poultry for several years, and I'm always interested to hear innovative ideas from other people who think with a self reliant mindset. With that being said, I'd like to pose a few questions for everyone to get this conversation going.

    What are ways you reduce feed prices for laying hens, broilers, turkeys and waterfowl?

    What specific housing/infrastructure features have you used that have been particularly useful?

    What are your favorite breeds or crosses that work well for self reliant living?

    What are ways you integrate your flock into the rest of the homestead?

    Then, of course, any other useful thoughts or discussion is welcome.

    Happy Posting!
     
  2. Blueridgeviews

    Blueridgeviews Well-Known Member

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    One of the most impressive programs I am interested in is Geoff Lawton's experiments on feeding free range chickens just on compost -- they thrive on the worms and biota --- no feed costs and their research produced only one egg less a year from the chickens on regular feed.
    Hopefully the video is still available on the chicken farmer doing this. Geoff has also tried it.
    video on this link
    http://permaculturenews.org/2013/12/06/grow-chickens-without-buying-grain-feeding-compost/

    http://www.geofflawtononline.com
     
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  3. Blueridgeviews

    Blueridgeviews Well-Known Member

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    Double entry -- can't delete it, sorry
     
  4. Alder

    Alder Well-Known Member

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    I am supplementing my layers with good alfalfa from the hayfields. On a bad day, the protein level is probably equal to layer mash, and I know people who sell broilers off the farm who tractor on good alfalfa fields with minimal supplement and harvest the broilers at 8 weeks and a nice weight. Anyway, it really helps with the feed bill for my layers/broilers and makes the eggs nice dark yellow.

    I've started self-serve roadside egg sales. A cooler on the fence down at the end of the farm road with a sign. Eggs on ice packs in the cooler, a few flyers explaining the system to the neighbors, and a cocoa can for the money. Take them down in early morning and bring any unsold back up to the fridge in the late afternoon. I put out eggs as I have them, but striving for Saturday/Sunday and Wednesday so the eggs are at their freshest. So far, much better response than expected, and helps pay the feed bill. Plus, EASY for me and the customer. Right now, the basis of my layer flock are Welp's Slow White Broilers, with a few Ameraucana and Cuckoo Maran hens thrown in to add color and boost sales.

    The best all purpose bird I've found is the Welp Hatchery Slow White Broiler. They grow 2-3 weeks slower than the CornishX Broiler, are not double-breasted, but have a lot more dark meat instead. A longer carcass - not bowling ball shaped like the CornishX, but still get as big - at 11 weeks, the cockerels will easily dress at 8 lbs. But the best part is, they are active birds, not as subject to health problems, will breed naturally and breed true to type, (I incubate my own replacement broilers) and the hens make really good early, prolific layers of brown eggs.

    I keep my birds in a good fence or varmint-proof pen all the time. Any birds I want production from are too valuable to lose to predators. I've learned that "free-range" mans a "free meal" for the wildlife.
     
  5. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7 Supporter

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    Hope this helps some.
     
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  6. brownegg

    brownegg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's really simple..free range for feed cost savings, but don't think they don't enjoy the feeder before roost....and plan on your eggs to cost more than commercial ones can be bought...they aren't apples for apples and it's why we do this.....free eggs can be had at the food pantry.

    The more effort you put into your plan, the more the hens benefit from it. Strong flocks are given the best, and produce the best....they appreciate every thin you do for them....in my opinion.
     
  7. DisasterCupcake

    DisasterCupcake Crazy Goat Lady

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    Location:
    MI
    My system is not very low-input (yet).

    Layers year round, which I order from hatchery 25 pullets at a time. I cull as hens stop laying and have had between 30 and 40 hens usually year round. I will switch up breeds every year- mostly to tell the older ones apart ;D Current 2 year olds (only 2 left) were Isa Browns, 1 year olds (11 currently) of Silver Lace Wyandottes, and still have 25 this years' Rhode Island Reds.

    I usually get a few sets of broilers every year to run through, but we still have half of last year's in the freezer. Thinking of raising some Pekin ducks or Muscovies instead this year.

    Buy all my feed right now. We get certified organic soy-free coarse feed and I ferment it prior to feeding. In addition to creating a wet feed that is easier on the digestive tract, it provides a huge amount of probiotics and raises the protein level of the grain quite a bit, multiplies the amount of B-vitamins, and digests most of the starch and some of the fiber. Fermenting allows me to feed at a rate of about 70% dry in the winter. I add alfalfa and oats/ scratch grain for the remainder of their winter rations.

    Summer rations are pretty skimpy. Basically a few handfuls of grain morning and night. The girls are free ranging right now until the egg mobile is up. When it's finished they will have a 1/4 acre a day, following goats and cows on pasture.

    I am able to sell eggs an chickens at a premium because they are fed certified organic feed and also soy-free. Course I don't make much more than conventional fed- cost of feed is very high.
     
  8. BarredBuff

    BarredBuff Well-Known Member

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    Kentucky
    Good to see these responses! Keep on sharing your ideas and processes
     
  9. COWS

    COWS Well-Known Member

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    What is the objection to feeding soy products to chickens?

    Re feed: I assume you are already feeding table scraps to chickens. Grow as much corn as you can to feed the chickens(no, it doesn't have to be ground or cracked to feed chickens. Might be better for feed conversion though.) Grow some grain sorghum. It has small seeds in large seed heads, which can be cut and stored for later use. Just throw the complete seed head to the chickens, they will thresh it for you. All this will only supplement your bought seed, but every little bit helps.

    KEH
     
  10. DisasterCupcake

    DisasterCupcake Crazy Goat Lady

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    I don't like to feed non-ruminants any soy, unless it's been fermented for a long time (years).
    Soy has some of the highest levels of phytates (mineral binding complexes) and enzyme inhibitors of any grain or legume grown for food. Soy is also a goitrogen (toxic to the thyroid) for non-ruminants.
    It's very difficult to find soy-free chicken feed, the only kind I can find is organic, although I just met someone mixing their own feeds, so I will be following up on that!