What’s in the feed?

Most people don’t ask what we feed our ladies (egg laying hens). I don’t know if they don’t care or just assume our eggs are all-natural, non-GMO, and organic just because they come from our farm. But from time to time someone will make a ONETIME mistake and ask “are your eggs organic…. Or at least non-GMO”. They wouldn’t have asked that question if they’d known they were going to give up the next hour of their life listening to me discuss chicken feed in greater detail than they ever cared to know. I mean it’s the awkward conversation where they’re walking away and I’m talking to the back of their head…. Then texting them later about details I forgot…. And the e-mail links that would soon follow. However, I’m not going to do that here, instead I’m going to share the two things I think are of the greatest importance.

Number One – My ladies, just like you and me, like fresh food. I have my feed ground up locally on a biweekly schedule. Sure it would be more convenient to do this monthly, but it just wouldn’t be the same. And there’s actually a scientific reasoning behind all this – after grain is ground or cracked the nutritional value begins to decline, so the longer feed sits the worse it gets. Oxidation is the reason for this, and frankly I really don’t understand it all, but I can tell you the smell of a freshly ground bag of feed is very different from the alternative. It’s like the Folgers commercial where the woman is smelling the fresh cup of coffee, and it’s “the best part of waking up……” Fresh feed is like that! Anyway, moving on.

Number Two – Everyone is talking about how we’re supposed to know what’s in our food and be able to pronounce all the ingredients, sooo just apply the same concept to feed. Truth – most people can’t tell you what’s in their feed. Don’t believe me?  Just ask them sometime. The response will be something like “Uh, corn and oyster shells…. well it’s mostly corn, that’s really all they need”.  Now don’t we all feel reassured! Currently our layer feed consists of milo (30.75%), wheat (20%), non-gmo roasted soybeans (32.5%), alfalfa meal (5%), oyster shells (8.75%) and Fertrell Nutri-Balancer (3%). Notice there is no corn in this recipe, that’s because I can’t get non-GMO corn and our customer base wants non-GMO eggs. I’d also like to add that the guys and gals over at Fertrell are awesome! They developed this ration and deserve the credit for it. If you can get Fertrell feed products, do it, you won’t regret it! In addition to this feed ration our ladies also get kitchen scraps and whatever they desire in the pasture.

Where would we like to improve you ask? I thought you never would. We’d love to mill our feed right here at the farm – I mean, what could be fresher than that. Recently we secured a grain bin to get us moving in that direction. We’d also like to start sprouting grains because it’s more nutritional and easier for the chickens to digest.

And one final thought, if you’re buying your eggs from a local farmer, GREAT, don’t stop. There’s absolutely no comparison between store-bought eggs (even if they’re organic) and farm fresh eggs, regardless if they’re all-natural, non-GMO, or organic. This isn’t rocket-science, just crack them side by side and decide for yourself!

-Feather

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