How to make your own organic poultry feed and save some money in the process!

Fresh treats!

We recently switched to making our own DIY organic, soy-free feed mix for all our birds. And you know what? It’s way easier and cheaper!

After going through the process with California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for become certified organic, we realized that we really needed to investigate a cheaper way to feed our flock. We also wanted to be sure that what we feed our birds is actually organic and non-GMO. Corn and soy are typically genetically modified crops, even if they are labeled as certified organic. So we decided to stay away from using those in our feed.

I was sure there was someone out there who had already done all the research, created and tested a recipe, and was willing to share. Sure enough. I easily found several!

Now that we’ve been successfully using this feed for a while I’m going to share it with you. Maybe someone else out there will be searching Google just like I did.

DIY Organic, Soy-free Poultry Feed Mix Ingredients

Our mix of feed

Full disclosure here. I took the following recipe from Garden Betty’s website and then we tweaked it just a bit to suit our flock. Check her out, she is a wealth of info!

The Recipe (it makes about 8.5 lbs of feed):

Our recipe tweaked from Garden Betty’s original

We also mix in some oyster shells into their feed. Sometimes we will put the shells in a separate dish, but our ladies seem to prefer picking it out of their food. Go figure.

Since waterfowl are particularly messy eaters, we’ve noticed that switching from pellets to this grain feed has significantly helped reduce keep the common feed dishes cleaner! Since the ducks and goose moisten their feed, they’d get the pellets all wet and then clumpy. Gross. And then chickens wouldn’t eat! Lots of feed wasted and lots of hungry chickens.

Where and How to Get the Ingredients

Some of the ingredients from Azure Standard

So this is where we struggled. We live in a very small, rural town in San Diego county. Now you’d think that a big and trendy eco-friendly city like San Diego would have tons of options for buying bulk organic food. Nope. We have yet to find an in-person store where we can get these ingredients in large/bulk quantities.

If you are going for smaller sizes (one pound or less), you can find most of these items at Whole Foods, Jimbo’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and even WinCo. When you want bigger quantities (5, 10, 15, 25 pounds) it becomes nearly impossible to shop in-person.

Enter Azure Standard. They are the cheapest and best quality online organic bulk goods store we have found so far. Amazon Prime was even more expensive. Trust me, you know my OCD researching self checked it out! The only hiccup with Azure Standard is the shipping cost. They operate mainly on a ‘drop’ system. Meaning, you join your neighborhood drop group, then you show up at the designated drop location on designated day and time. The ginormous Azure truck stops, unloads, and all the drop groups members grab their goods.

Shockingly, we easily found a drop group near us. This was a huge savings to us. Prior to the drop, we would spend about $40 in shipping costs, and that was only ordering the 5 lb bags. Which meant we’d have to order monthly.

Since finding the drop, with its free shipping, we’ve been able to order larger quantities and thus, order less often.

I put on my math wizard hat again to sort out how much of each ingredient to order, and then how often to restock. For the recipe above, here’s our current plan:

Shopping Frequency List

The only ingredients that Azure Standard does NOT carry are the Brewer’s Yeast and the Triticale Berries. Good ‘ole Amazon to the rescue for those.

The Benefits of Organic Feed

Peace of mind. Knowing that you are feeding your flock the healthiest diet possible. And the cost! We’ve been able seriously save money each month on their food. This has been huge for us.

Last night I did a little cost-analysis. Shocking, I know. I hate math. I am not a math teacher. Not even close! It took me longer than the average bear to compile this, but I was determined to do it. I was super curious to see if we were spending more, the same, or perhaps less on our flock’s food.

Lo and behold! We are actually saving money. I legit did a little happy dance around the kitchen table. Now, we’re not talking hundreds of dollars here or anything. We went from spending about $125 per month to less than $50. Hey, that’s gas money. Or our wireless bill. Or date night cash. Cha Ching!

Other Food Sources for Our Flock

The ducks, chickens, and goose all free-range throughout our property. They love to forage for bugs and slugs! They’re not great at weed control, but they are awesome at eating my rose bush petals.

Mealworms. These are like crack to our flock. They literally come running at the same time every day because they know that is their ‘snack time’. It’s hilariously adorable. These can get expensive, so we are experimenting now with Mealworm Farming. Stay tuned for updates on that. It’s, um, interesting.

Peas. If I had a dollar for everyone who told me how much ducks love peas… Well, not our ducks. Not interested. Nada. Zip. Zilch. No way, no how. Never. Apparently I have some odd ducks. But peas may work for you!

Our ladies also have access to their own fresh garden, which has: mild asian greens, chicory, lettuce, kale, mache, peas, small tomatoes, sunberries, ground cherries, and chickweed. I’ll do another Blog Post all about that bird garden later…

Chickens in their “garden” beds

Feeding a Mixed Flock: What Are Their Different Nutritional Requirements?

We have chickens, ducks, and a goose in our little flock. They all have slightly different nutritional needs. Since they all live together in one coop, and all have access to the same feeders, we had to figure out how to meet all their needs with one feed source.

Fortunately, all three have similar protein requirements for laying. Chickens need 17%, Ducks 16-18%, and Geese 15-16%. We decided to split the difference. Our homemade feed is about 17% protein.

Metzer Farms has an excellent resource page on nutritional requirements for ducks and geese.

I have a feeling we’ll be tweaking this recipe more as we go along. Stay tuned for updates!