A comment on my last post about switching feed has me now writing this post. The questions were what am I feeding now, how do I know the other feed will work, and what feed is it? I am answering this way because when I was trying to figure out what Joel Salatin was feeding, it was too illusive..never did find it..maybe this will help someone around me find feed. 😀
Ok Currently I have 26 hens, I also have at least 8 more female chicks that will lay in 5 months. I feed Nature Wise Layer feed from Nutrena. It is a soy based feed. I chose this feed because it doesnt have antibiotics or hormones in it and all the other feeds around me do. I use their rewards program and so that was saving me money also. My chickens lay great in the summer and not so great in the winter but a yearly average is 6 dozen a week. Currently the feed price is about $15 a bag..just shy + tax. I buy a yearly average of 5 bags a month, summer it is less, winter it is more. That comes to $80.25. Divide that by 4 average weeks. $20.05 and then divide that by 6 dozen gives you $3.34. I live in Northern Indiana and the girls cannot go out most of the winter due to the snow amounts. I do shovel when I can to get them out and moving but they wont go out anyway most of the time. That is why I go for a yearly average. Summer they roam all over the place and feed bills go down, but winter months kill me.
How do I know the other feed will work? I found a guy who buys this feed already. He has been feeding this to his girls for at least a year. He has customers who cannot tolerate soy what so ever. He not only sells his eggs to them, but also the chickens as stewing hens when they quit laying. He raises all his birds on this. I went to see him about turkeys and told him about how I couldnt eat my eggs. He said that many people are allergic to the soy that is put in the feed and gave me a dozen eggs. I tried them and found that I could eat them with minimal discomfort. On a scale of horrid 10 to hardly anything 1…store eggs are a 11, my eggs are about a 5, and his eggs were a 1. Believe me I kept eating that entire dozen just to make sure, and then I bought another dozen just yesterday. He charges $5 a dozen to cover the cost of gas to go haul the ton. The feed is expensive which is why I wanted to make sure I was able to eat his eggs first before I bought.
What is this new feed? There are two places I have found that I can get organic feed, one is in Lebanon. They want $30 a bag. Not do-able for me..that is way too much to change over all my hens. The other place is Honeyville Organic Feeds. They have two locations of Topeka and Wolcottville. They recently were taken over by W.O.L.F Coop which sells organic feed in I think Wisconsin. This is the place the farmer I talked to go his feed. It is a special mix done by the grain elevator. He buys by the ton. I cant. I dont have room to store it and it would take me forever to use it, plus it would go moldy in the process. So I called and they offer layer feed in bags for $21.50. That comes to $115.03 a month with tax included. Divide that by 4 weeks is $28.76 a week. Divide that by 6 dozen and you have $4.79.
I truly wish it was cheaper and if I went with exactly the feed costs each month the price would fluctuate a lot..keeping it yearly is a great way to let people pay the same price year round. Out here normal “farm” eggs go for $2 a dozen. The feed has to be the cheapest out there. I do not know how much feed these guys are actually giving their chickens or how good of egg is laid. Organic eggs go for $3.50. I do know that chickens can get a huge supply of food from just scratching around, but you have to realize I live on one acre. On that acre I have a house and a garden which almost take up half an acre. My girls cannot find enough food out there to make me satisfied they are eating enough and staying healthy. I offer food all the time and they would eat the feed at their leisure along with free range. This year instead of letting them roam around willy nilly, I am doing a pasture rotation system with my sheep and them like Joel Salatin does with his cows and chickens.
Yes I am small scale, yes we hope to move to a beautiful 20 acre farm, yes I dream big, but unless someone can find feed for me that is not more than 2 hours drive to get, has no hormones or antibiotics because I care about that, and is a non soy formula so I can eat my own eggs, I have to rely on this feed and try to find the clientele to buy the eggs.