When you have a number of animals on your farm, you have to figure out a way to store their feed. If you have enough animals, I suppose you could have a silo. You could call the feed mill and get them to deliver your feed mix and dump it right into the silo.
Silos are expensive though. Maybe you don’t have enough animals to make getting a silo worth while. Or maybe, like me, you are a cheap Dutch girl. Here’s what we do:
We go to the local shopping mall (read DUMP) and shop for freezers. When people get a new deep freeze, what do they do with the old one? In our area they bring them to the dump. We get feed storage freezers for free.
Now we don’t care if the freezer works or not. We won’t be plugging it in – it will sit down at our barn in the breezeway area. We’ll buy our bags of feed at the local feed store (because even though we would love to provide 100% of the feed for our animals off of our own land….well, we can’t.
So we bring the bags of feed home and put it into the freezers. Here’s the mix that we feed to our laying hens. It’s 16% lay pellets, wheat and cracked corn. We try to buy 10 bags at a time, as we get a discount for 10 bags or more.
Here’s one of our deep freezers. Since it has a “shelf” on one side, I can store my empty egg cartons in there. This makes it easy to gather eggs every day. In Winter, since I usually come from the house with a jug of water in one hand, and kitchen leftovers in the other, I have no hands left to carry an egg carton down with me.
Into this deep freeze, I will empty one bag of lay pellets. Then I will add one bag of wheat and give it a good mix with my hands. Then I add one bag of the corn and mix it all together again.
We keep oyster shell separately for the chickens. Often we just feed eggshells back to them, which works very well but you have to make sure the shells are crushed very fine.
In the other deep freezers, we keep extra unopened bags of feed. Once late Spring hits and we get our weaner pigs, their feed goes into the big freezer and the hens feed goes in one of the smaller freezers. (We do it that way so we can order in lots of hen food before we have too much snow and then have to be bringing bags down to the barn.)
We have a third freezer down there. During the season, this will hold meat bird feed, which is different from the laying hens feed. Meat birds get 20% protein feed in order to get them growing quickly. In the off season, we use this freezer to store things like extra heat lamps and bulbs, the large chicken waterers and the extra feeders. These are all clean when we put them in the freezer for storage.
When the meat birds are done, and there is still heat in the late Summer air, we wash and bleach out all the containers, rinse them very well and then leave them out in the sun to air dry.