Let Your Livestock Test Your Feed Quality

Suppose you don’t know which of two brands of chicken feed is the best. What do you do?

Here’s a very simple test: set out two identical feeders, right next to each other, one filled with Feed A and one filled with Feed B. Note which feed the chickens prefer. Keep it up for a while (say, a week), so that any initial hesitancy the chickens might have had because of some trivial difference in texture or flavor has been overcome. Buy the feed that the chickens like best.

The idea here is that chickens, like people, can detect small differences in feed quality through their various senses — sight, smell, taste, and how they feel after eating. Discriminating between good food and bad is something that creatures are very good at.

There are large differences between different brands of livestock feed. Some vendors bulk up their feeds with cheap filler ingredients, while others use semi-spoiled ingredients because they’re cheap. Chicken feed made with moldy corn or rancid soybean oil meal is not going to work as well as feed made with quality ingredients. Fortunately, the chickens can tell the difference.

(See also my other blog posting on feed quality.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this issue. Most of my posts are based on input from people like you, so leave a comment below!
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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

4 thoughts on “Let Your Livestock Test Your Feed Quality”

  1. I like this suggestion. I hadn’t thought about my chickens having preferences! Shame on me! One thing I wonder though… shouldn’t you vary the kind of feed that you give your chickens? If you always give them type A, and never B or C is that beneficial for them since you are not varying their diet?

    I’m new to keeping chickens (less than a year) so this is more of a question than a contestation! 🙂

  2. Ray,

    Your grandfather’s book is a great classic and I wish it were still in print. The passage of over 45 years has done little to reduce its value. It’s very readable and practical, and covers all the implications of feeding, rather than sticking to the center of the topic the way most people did. The only thing that’s remotely like it in print today is “Feeding Poultry” by Heuser, which I reprinted myself.

    But it’s a fact of life that most of the best books are out of print, and so you have to look for used books for the best information. I encourage anyone who’s interested to look up Ewing’s “Poultry Nutrition” on Abe Books and Amazon.com. I didn’t have any trouble getting a good copy for a reasonable price.

  3. My pigs have a clear preference for a local farmer’s milled fresh-to-order while you watch, ground feed as opposed to the storebought hog grower pellets. They would grind a lot of the pellets to powder in their self feeder and then would not eat the powder, I had to dig it out periodically and give it to the chickens, who weren’t all that fond of it either but would eventually eat it. The pigs clean up all of the ground feed, and this trip I also got a barrel of his feed formulated for chickens, which they also love.

  4. Robert,
    I stumbled onto your website by accident but really lucked out. I just purchased your “Success with Baby Chick, Open Air Poultry Houses and even Mr Ewings book”. I am also getting back to my roots and raising chickens like we did in Crescent City, I am in Reno now so the weather is a little different and I was also young when we raised them so I really need some information. Thank you for all the info I have read so far and I am really looking forward to reading my new books.

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