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Joel Salatin's chicken feed recipes

Chicken feedMy favorite part of Pastured Poultry Profits was the chapter devoted to demystifying chicken feed.  Joel Salatin raises enough chickens that he can order his feed custom-blended, and he's done a lot of experimentation to determine the recipes that work best for him.  He believes in keeping the mixture as simple as possible and using real ingredients.

Here are the components of Salatin's broiler mix (and why he includes each ingredient):

  • 52% corn --- For carbohydrates
  • 29% roasted soybeans --- For protein
  • 11% crimped oats --- These are a source of protein and carbs, but Salatin primarily includes oats because of the fiber in the hulls.
  • 3.5% Sea-Lac brand fish meal --- He prefers this brand because of their low-heat processing, which helps preserve vitamins and minerals.  The other purpose of fish meal is to provide animal protein.
  • 3% Fertrell Nutri-Balancer --- For vitamins and minerals.  (See below.)
  • 1% feed grade limestone --- For calcium
  • 0.5% kelp meal --- For minerals.  Salatin recommends choosing kelp meal grown in cold water and dried geothermally.
  • 0.1% Fastrack probiotic --- To promote digestion and boost the immune system.  This brand name product is produced by Conklin Co., Inc., and Salatin says they have the highest percentage of Lactobaccillus acidophilus, without the fillers found in other brands of probiotics.

Fertrell Nutri-BalancerSalatin performed side by side comparisons of various brands of "snake oil" (his term), and discovered that his chickens grew faster and stayed healthier when he added Fertrell Nutri-Balancer to the mix.  He prefers to avoid chemically formulated vitamins and minerals since they break down readily in hot weather and are harder for the chickens to assimilate than are vitamins and minerals from natural sources, so he was glad to find a natural source.  Now I know where the Fertrell Nutri-Balancer craze started!

In case you're curious, Salatin's layer ration consists of:

  • 49.7% corn
  • 30.8% roasted soybeans
  • 10.9% oats
  • 5.0% feed grade limestone
  • 3.0% Fertrell Nutri-Balancer
  • 0.5% Thorvin brand kelp meal

Sounds a lot like the ingredients in our quality chicken feed.  I still don't have data on consumption and growth using our new chicken feed, but I will soon.

Our chicken waterer rounds out a quality diet with clean, POOP-free water.

This post is part of our Pastured Poultry Profits series.  Read all of the entries:

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Where do you get roasted soybeans and food grade limestone? Thanks!

Comment by Becky early Friday morning, June 1st, 2012
Becky --- You can find all of the ingredients that go in the average chicken feed at your local feed store.
Comment by anna early Wednesday morning, June 6th, 2012
isn't this recipe false? as far as i have read and studied the poultry is fed off pasture and gmo free grains
Comment by bl at lunch time on Saturday, January 5th, 2013
bl --- This is the recipe Salatin reports in his book, so I assume it's right at least as of 1999 when the most recent edition was published. You definitely need some source of protein in chicken feed, so grains alone usually don't cut it. The vitamins and minerals could possibly be left off if the chickens have access to lots of pasture, but it's safer to include them.
Comment by anna late Monday morning, January 7th, 2013
I built a chicken tractor last season and grew 50 broilers. since my brother pig farms and has a feed grinder/mixer i figured I would save the $ and mix my own. After much research I found no broiler mix I could go off of, so I made my feed of corn, barley, soymeal, the usual. I did take care in figuring the protein(thats all that matters anyway, right?). Long story short, my birds ended up half the size of a friend's who used southern states broiler mix. I have since learned the value of minerals, nutri-balancer and all the extra! I am so glad to find this mix (Salatin fan!)but am wondering what the total protein of this mix is... so I can add the proper protein for them at their chick stage. Or does he use this mix for their whole lives? I will read this book next! Just finish salad bar beef. Thanks!
Comment by Caleb Sunday afternoon, March 31st, 2013

Caleb --- Excellent data point about your experience with making your own feed! It does seem dicey for the little guy, especially if you're not able to give your birds lots of forage to round out their diet.

If my memory serves me, I believe Salatin uses his recipe for the whole life of broilers (starter and grower/finisher). I don't recall seeing the percent protein, but you could probably figure it out if you knew the protein content of the corn, etc.

Comment by anna late Monday morning, April 1st, 2013

Ok, so I figured out the total protein would be about 20.005%, if my math is right. It soulds about right, but I'll probably add a little for when they are chicks. Caleb

Comment by Caleb late Friday evening, April 5th, 2013
Is this Joel Salatins current broiler mix recipe? I have his Pastured Poultry Profits book and he said that he also added Brewers Yeast. That book was written 20 yrs ago though, so perhaps he stopped using it.
Comment by Sabrina Harbison Monday evening, May 18th, 2015
Sabrina ---Good question. I got this straight out of his book as well, but can't remember which edition of the book it was. Definitely not the first since there were, I think, two updated sections at the back.
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, May 25th, 2015
look in the back of the book for updates that he's included regarding his feed rations.
Comment by Anonymous late Wednesday night, October 1st, 2015
I thought we were supposed to eliminate soy because of its hormone changing properties.
Comment by Sandy early Monday morning, August 15th, 2016

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