We all have to feed our chickens and stock regardless of where we are. Most people are aware of a couple choices they have to feed their chickens. We can go to the feed store and get the most affordable, or we can get certified organic. One is cheap and one isn’t. It is safe to say that certified organic feed is generally 2 or 3 times the cost of regular commercially available feed.
We have another option in many places. That option is locally milled and mixed feeds from the best sources available. Often times the feed is grown on the same farm. Occasionally certain ingredients are brought in from somewhere else as it is not readily grown in this climate. Many of the ingredients though are grown locally and with a minimum of pesticides, and more real ingredients.
If you have ever read a commercial feed bag ingredient list you may have seen “(plant by products, animal by products)” as ingredients. What exactly that is, is not always easily determined. Sometimes it means the bottoms of silos where leftover grains are. Sometimes it is what is left over from some other operation. Once you start digging into what goes into feed you may be surprised at what you find.
Scott from Patriot Farm and Bison in southwestern Washington is a farmer and local feed supplier. “I think that these types of feed sources were just never intended to be used for critters.” referring to some of the by-products used in many readily available off the shelf bagged feed.
Patriot Farms hears the requests for a corn and soy free feed and is working on a feed to meet customer demands. Scott says ”I have used various types of protein in the last couple of years, grass screenings, peas, cottonseed…etc. They all work to bring up the protein, but, if the animals won’t eat it. This is where molasses is used to flavor the product. This is why so much feed has some kind of “sweet” byproduct in it.
If you want real ingredients, like those that you can put in dirt and have them grow, but cant spend the big money on certified organics you may be in luck. Locally grown feed may be available in your area. Local farmers can grow most of the ingredients needed for seed and they are whole ingredients, like wheat, oats, and such. There are also corn and soy in most of the feeds also though.
There are a corn and soy free foods available. Usually they are certified organic and cost more. Most corn and soy nowdays is Genetically Modified. You can find farms that source their soy or grow their soy from non GMO seed but today it is questionable whether there is any soy that isnt contaminated with GMO lineage.
For the most part I would rather have whole ingredients over by-product listings even if it contains soy and corn. Many people would rather not have any genetically modified products but can’t see paying the higher price for organics. The local farmer that mills and mixes their own feed is the middleground we are looking for.
Some of these farms will mix feeds to your specifications if you order a minimum amount or meet other requirements. It might not hurt to ask if you find someone who mills their own feed that may not sell a certain feed youa re looking for, say turkey starter for instance, to mix a higher protein feed for you.
I know of and have used Half Moon Feed and also Patriot Farm feed. I am happy with both of them. From talking with both of the owners I feel that they both really want to offer the best, natural, and wholesome feed that they can and still stay afloat. There are no fillers in the feed like in some commercially available feeds, to reduce the cost of making it.
Supporting our local growers also supports our local economies. Feeds that travel the least use the least amount of energy to transport them across the country, and the globe. I would rather support my local community and get a better, more wholesome feed at the same time.