Somehow while wasting time on the internet, I came across a post about Flock Block, a Purina product you feed your chickens. Like any good bleeding-heart, eco-conscious liberal, I had to read the ingredients first:
Cracked Corn, Whole Wheat, Whole Milo, Whole Barley, Whole Sunflower Seed, Molasses, Oyster Shell, Calcium Lignin Sulfonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Granite Grit, Salt, Propionic Acit (A Preservative), Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine, Biotin, Vitamin A Acetate, Nicotinic Acid, Riboflavin, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite (source of Vitamin K), Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.
Yikes, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t recognize (underlined), and I’m a biochem major! In a fit of economy and can-do-it-ness, I immediately started thinking about how I might make my own, from reliable sources and on a strict budget (these things cost $12!). I’ve previously given my chickens trimmings from the vegetable department at the grocery store, but since they are free-ranging, they pretty much ignored them. I have to assume that they’re going to ignore the cabbage-tetherball idea too.
Other posts on the Backyard Chickens Forum indicate that their chickens prefer Flock Block to any other feed, and accordingly, use it strictly as a treat. So clearly, I have to make a decision whether or not I’m making merely Chicken-Chow or Chicken-Delight.
The Purina website indicates that this stuff is only about 8% protein, and you already know that layer hens should be up around 16% protein. Of course, they need all sorts of other useful amino acids and minerals like calcium. For their daily meals, I give my chickens In Season Farms Layer Mash [PDF], and they include the ingredients neatly stapled to the bag. I really liked Scratch and Peck Mash too, but the Fish Meal made the eggs taste fishy to me.
The Poultry Hub (see Table 2) outlines the percentages of protein, fats, carbohydrates and other minerals for egg-laying chickens, and since one of mine is moulting right now, I’ll probably want to use a pretty-high protein recipe (16-17%) with measurable amounts of Lysine, Methionine, Tryptophan, Threonine (all amino-acids), Calcium (with limestone), Phosphorus, Sodium and Chloride.
So, shoot, what am I going to put in it? Harvey Ussery, the oracle of the Homesteading Movement, explains his ingredients for daily poultry feed clearly and concisely. He includes spreadsheets with 100 lb lots which you’ld have to scale down to a manageable size. For example, for winter layers, I’ll need 4.5 lbs of his premix, with 7.5 lbs ground corn, 6 lbs ground peas, 2 lbs ground alfalfa, 3 lbs whole wheat and 2 lbs whole oats or barley. Looks like I’ll need to get a heavy-duty scale too!
I should point out that sprouting your peas and grains would increase your protein amounts, but I don’t know by how much. You’ld have to do your own research based on how long they’ve been sprouted.
This is just a vestigal post; I wanted to do some cost analysis, but I’ld better just get this thing posted for now.