Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Thought we might discuss what some of us are paying for feed and maybe find creative ways to keep the prices down while also feedign VERY high quality feed to our animals.
I live in Kansas and have our feed milled ata local mill. My most recent feed order was 2 tons and costs me a little over $2000.
For my Poultry Grower it looks like this
30% Organic Roasted Soy
25% Organic Corn
3% Poultry Nutri Balancer.
I am not raising animals on a huge scale, but in my area (northeast of Seattle) a 50 lb bag of layer pellet goes for $16. A 50 lb bag off all stock grain is $10 whereas a 50 lb bag of dairy ration is $18. And a 100 lb bale of 80/20 orchard/alfalfa is around $16. If I buy local hay in the summer (which I hope to do this year) it could be $7/bale. I am thankful to have bought a house this year and have pasture for my goats and sheep to help cut down on feed costs.
That's a tough one for us as well. We currently have a mix that the local mill makes for us that is not organic that we get for about 350 a ton. The nearest organic source to us is probably 4 hours away, and we don't have anything that can haul the amount of feed we would need to justify the trip, let alone the additional cost. In mid summer when we have our maximum number of broilers, layers, turkeys, and ducks we go through more than half a ton a week. We would love to be organic, but unless something changes it just isn't going to happen for us.
We are in the same boat with the non-gmo stuff. We can get it an hour away, but again we have a problem with transport, and the cost is 10c a lb more than we pay now.
We're paying $708 a ton for organic 20% dairy mix that is coming out of VT. Needless to say we are not feeding a lot of grain to the cows.
I know that what I an going to tell you will sound absolutely crazy. I have always small farm animal farmed. In order to raise and have any chance of even staying in business you have to look at ALL your options. Chickens on a dime --- Find a neighbor who is raising soybeans. When they combine they kick all the plant chaf out on the field behind the combine. I have raked up all I could as this is full of bean fragments and the hulls, the chickens eat the beans and bed/scratch in the rest, later it can be returned to the field. I have wondered how I could get a bag under that discharge on the combine, I would think it would be worth money to somebody. I lay a deep bed of this in the chicken coop enough for then to scratch in all winter. During the summer I have a lawn mower with baggier. EVERYDAY I would mow a bag, the chickens seem to enjoy scratching the bugs and seeds out. Left overs will be pitched on the manure spreader. I also do this for my sheep and cattle, but VERY IMPORTANT after the mowed grass is over an hour old it starts fermenting this can be a problem. So feed it fresh(everyday) and only feed what they will clean up. I start them out WORMED and with small amounts and work them up, soon it will be a normal part of their diet. I have mowed lawn mowers to death. And survived drought (from lack of water) and drought (from lack of money). I have mowed roadsides and ditches. I am still farming and in almost 50 years of feeding grass clippings, have never had an animal get sick (I never feed it over one hour old). I have no figures on how much you could save cause the gas prices have changed so. The figures could look really good if you had an older neighbor who needed a lawn or lot mowed with your miniature hay chopper and would pay for the gas and maybe something for the lawn mowing. My old horses even get a little, they love it and do well on it.
We had a similar situation--wanting better local non-GMO feed but sources were a couple of hours away. Several producers formed a co-op and we have someone who picks up and hauls the ingredients up here, another farm where it can be stored, another person with a grinder/mixer. There's also an option of getting it ground and mixed at the grain source. We are talking about everyone buying big barrels at the farm store and loading/storing/bringing it home that way.