We had an incredible session with Jeff Mattocks from Fetrell on Saturday – a beautiful, sunny, not too hot day at the farm was the perfect time to visit the feed mill. Since he is a nutrition consultant, and has helped us immeasurably in our feed development, we asked Jeff to use our feed as an example, and to explain the choices behind each ingredient in one of the feeds we have produced here at Reedy Fork.
Each item in our ingredient list is chosen carefully, with several factors kept in mind:
Nutritional value. The amount of protein is especially important.
Flavor. The taste from feed passes along to eggs and meats.
Digestibility. For example, the tannin in peas and beans has to be limited.
Season of the year. We use different ingredients depending on the temperature outside. For instance, starches require a lot of oxygen to break down, and the oxygen causes the body to heat up. This presents a problem in the summer months.
Availability of commodity. Weather, current events (such as the Gulf oil spill), worker availability and competition make some ingredients hard to find, and others plentiful.
Price. The availability and competition affects the how much we pay, and how much we ultimately charge for the feed. (This is one reason we don’t post our feed prices – they fluctuate.)
Jeff went over each ingredient in two of the organic chicken feeds we have produced – layer and broiler starter, talking about which of the above factors influenced our choice on each one. He answered questions as he went, then had an open discussion over lunch*. People asked him about ducks, goats, estrogen in the diet, types of fish meal, even crickets!
By the way, we’re looking forward to having Jeff back again sometime in the fall. We’ll announce the date soon, so you can mark your calendars! And bring a friend.
*Shameless plug – we had delicious sub sandwiches from Reedy Fork Farm organic beef.
Take a look!