AKA The Great Chicken Feed Co-op Thing!
I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow chicken keeper yesterday. We talked about many things, but the main thread of the conversation was about chicken food.
I had approached several local people seeking members for a chicken feed/supplies co-op. Local sources for quality chicken feed are not available and our long time feed store doesn’t share my philosophy regarding appropriate feed ingredients.
It didn’t take much conversation with growers in the know to get a recommendation to a feed producer that has what I am looking for- Modesto Milling
Modesto Milling is not only a California company, it has the distinction of being the first organic grain processor in Central California. They are very careful in their selection of grains for their feeds and have a terrific reputation for quality.
The bad part was- no local suppliers!
I wanted to order direct, but of course the shipping fees for less than a pallet load were going to cause the end price to be waaaaayyy out of this farmchick’s budget.
That is where the co-op idea came in. And then, one of my fledgling members came in contact with a local lady who was already doing this very thing.
Getting back on subject, she mentioned that most of her members were ordering crumbles instead of pellets and asked my humble opinion on the subject. I have always preferred pellets because of the economy when I switched over my feed bill went way down. The chickens were gobbling the stuff up!
I had found that when using other forms of feed, the chickens were picking through the feed containers for their choice of goodies (sort of like offering a 3 year old a choice between a slice of cake or a bowl of brussels sprouts). The rest of the feed (there goes that carefully balanced diet) sort of got slung onto the ground during the great search. Switching to pellets threw them off for a couple of days, but no long term problems once they caught on it was love at first gobble.
So, what would lead a flock owner to choose between pellets or crumbles besides my un-scientific and highly biased opinions?
Here is what one county co-operative extension office has to say:
“Converting mash feeds into pellets or crumbles adds a given cost per ton of feed. However, there are some advantages to feeding pellets or crumbles. Because feed is compacted in pellet form, the bird is able to consume and metabolize a greater amount of feed. Pelleted feeds are a complete unit of feed, and the birds are unable to pick out different feed ingredients. Some mash feeds are extremely dusty and are difficult to handle. Pelleting these feeds improves their handling quality. Most broiler feeds are pelleted because pellets make it easier for the broiler to optimize its genetic potential. Also, this form of feed makes it possible to formulate high-energy, high-protein diets, which aid the broiler producer in maximizing the amount of feed used to produce a pound of meat.”
(Read the complete article here)
Nutrition- are both forms of feed good for my flock?
Modesto Milling posts the exact same ingredients for both the pellets and the crumbles so that should not be an issue.
Cost- will one form cost me more than another?
I called the nearest supplier, Frizelle Feeds in Sebastapol and spoke with a delightful woman there. She told me that they carry both the pellets and the crumbles for $27.99 a bag. So the cost per bag is not an issue.
I also asked her opinion on which feed to choose. She asked me a series of questions; chicks or laying hens?, Bantams or large breed?
She says that in her many years of experience, the smaller hens like Bantams prefer a smaller food. Small birds have to break the pellets up to eat them (That would create some waste as the pieces would fly everywhere at least in my coops).
She went on to say that many people think that the pellets cause less wastage in larger birds, validating my humble opinion. And then she added that it is ok to take what your chickens are used to eating into consideration in other words, if they like crumbles feed them crumbles.
Sooooo….. it may be cost effective to feed pellets because of your chickens feeding habits. But if your chickens are already eating crumbles and you don’t have a large flock , let them eat cake! (I mean crumbles)
Backyard Chicken Forum. pellets or crumbles?
The Classroom at the Coop on feed and supplements