Our chickens and turkeys are raised on pasture.
What we mean by this is that after the brooding stage they are outside 24x7, on top of the pasture. They are in portable bottomless shelters that are moved daily. Chickens and turkeys graze on the pasture, they find and eat insects, grubs and worms. All these are excellent sources of nutrition but it is only a small percentage of their requirements. Poultry grow very fast as a percentage of their weights. They must have supplementary feed.
We used to mix our own feed, but as the flock size grew this became an onerous task that required significant capital outlay to be able to do it in the quantities required in a reasonable time. To have an onsite feed mill requires separate storage of all the ingredients, i.e. numerous silos as well as dealing with numerous suppliers and the logistics of making sure we are not short of any ingredient. What we now do is buy a formulated ration. This includes grains, legumes, along with animal protein meals and a vitamin and mineral pack. We also pay to have included kelp seaweed meal. This additive has many benefits, it improves gut health and provides vital micro-nutrients.
The protein levels required are very high. Grains alone are not sufficient to provide this. Without high protein levels the chickens and turkeys will grow much more slower and they will never reach marketable weights that will enable our business to function.
Since the end of World War II poultry have been bred to grow faster and faster this has to be coupled with a very high protein diet. Currently chickens raised in large sheds are harvested from 35 days until about 49. Our chicken are out on pasture and are raised from 56-70 days. They do grow slower outdoors, but as they mature they develop more flavour and texture and their muscles don’t outgrow their skeleton and organs in the extreme way shed birds do.
As mentioned, our feed contains animal protein meals. Without these the main option is to increase the amount of soya beans in their ration to much higher levels, along with that you need to add an enzyme to the feed (phytase) otherwise the chickens won't be able to access the phosphrous in the soya. So, if you see mention of chickens fed a vegetarian mix, try and find out how much soya is in their ration, you’ll be surprised. Chickens are naturally omnivorous; they will eat carrion. I have seen them chase, kill and eat mice. On warm Summer nights when it rains, some yabbies take their chance and migrate. I have seen the leftover claws in their shelters in the morning. So adding animal protein meals is an easy way to boost protein levels without resorting to a feed with high levels of soya beans plus the required phytase..
Quick Feed FAQ:
Is it organic?
No, the only certified organic poultry feed is from a mill in Queensland. It costs more to begin with and a lot more to transport it to South-East Victoria. There is no poultry raised in the State of Victoria for meat that is certified organic. Any grower that makes any claims about chickens being raised for meat in Victoria organically is misleading you and charging you for chicken raised on much cheaper non-organic feed. Check the packaging it must have the words “Certified Organic” along with the logo of the certifier and the code of that particular certification. Anything else is fake. Don’t waste your money.
We have raised batches from time-to-time on certified organic feed from Queensland, see organic fed chicken for more details.
Is it GMO free?
Soya beans and canola are the ingredients in poultry feed that can be of a type that is from a genetically modified organism (GMO). In Australia, it is close to impossible to have certified non-GMO feed except for certified organic feed mentioned in the previous paragraph. As mentioned, we have added protein meals to reduce the soya content. There is some vegetable oil added to the feed which can be GMO as well (canola/soya bean oil). We are not at a scale where we can source directly from individual farmers non-GMO feed without also being an on-farm feed mill. As mentioned, the capital cost of the equipment needed to mill feed at the quantity needed on site is prohibitive. Claiming GMO free feed is difficult to verify outside of sourcing certified organic feed.
What are animal proteins?
Around the world millions of tons of animal by-products are produced annually. Slaughter by-products are routinely recycled for use in animal feeds. In Australia the raw materials in meat and bone meal are typically beef, lamb and pork by-products.They are cooked (rendered) into dry powders to produce a nutritional and safe feed ingredients. This produces meat and bone meal and blood meal. You will find this is a significant component of dry dog and cat food.