Better Feed For Your Backyard Chickens

It all began in 1923 with a group of ambitious men and their vision for the future. They were looking for a way to help their communities during the turbulent economic times following WWI, and formed the Utah Poultry Producers Cooperative Association. They asked members of this association to raise eggs to be shipped all over the country to be resold at higher prices than what they could get locally. Many families in Utah and Idaho benefited from their cash-crop of eggs and it was often said that, “the egg checks saved homes, fed families and softened the harsh effect of the Great Depression, in many communities.”

Almost 95 years later, with a new name attached to the cooperative, we are still going strong. However, markets have changed somewhat from those meager beginnings, though the poultry business is still a very substantial part of the IFA Country Stores. The “Milk White” egg has given way to more brown eggs and backyard chickens now rule the roost. Raising chickens has become more than just a hobby – more people are concerned with the quality of their food and where it comes from. Raising chickens in their own backyard gives people more control over the quality of the eggs and meat produced. This significantly increases the health benefits of the eggs and also the meat produced by the chicken. Having a supply of fresh eggs every day is also important for those who are interested in alternative food supplies. It gives families a way to stay connected to the reality of the “farm to table” concept.

IFA offers a variety of breeds of chickens to our customers – from fancy Bantam chickens to the Easter egg Ameraucanas. Depending on the chosen breed, you can raise these chicks to lay more eggs, to provide meat, or even just to keep around your home as pets. To some folks, it is soothing to have the rustic country appeal of a backyard flock.

IFA purchases our chicks from several hatcheries who provide us with high quality chicks to meet the demands of the industry. We sell approximately 100,000 chicks each year, with more than 105 varieties to choose from at our IFA Country Stores.

With the high demand for baby chicks from early February thru late May and again from late August and into October, IFA carries a large line of supplies for the needs of our backyard chicken growers. You can find everything from brooders to hen houses, feeders to feed, and more.

Keys to getting more eggs and a higher quality meat are:

  • Nutrition
  • Quality of feed, and
  • Cleanliness of accommodations

The higher the quality of feed you provide for the chickens the more feed efficient they become. If feed conversion is increased, then profitability improves. Let me explain.

Feed Efficiency

An animal that produces more growth with the same feed intake or the same growth with less feed intake is considered more efficient. Using this formula, we can determine the relative efficiency of several species of agriculturally important animals. For example, it takes an average of 6 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of body mass increase for beef animals. In comparison, pigs require about 3.4 pounds of feed for 1 pound of gain and poultry only require 2 pounds of feed for 1 pound of gain. Fish are the most efficient, only requiring 1.2 pounds of feed for each pound of gain.

With that in mind, IFA’s Bagged Feed Nutritionist, Heidi Wayment, has worked closely with industry-leading poultry nutritionists to provide a well-balanced diet for our IFA Premium Poultry line of feeds – ranging from chick starter to layer feeds. We focus on several key factors:

  • Gut health
  • Feed efficiency
  • Increased immunity
  • Better overall performance of the chicken

In working with these industry experts, Heidi has developed our own exclusive IFA Poultry Pack premix that goes into every bag of IFA Premium Poultry feed. IFA’s Poultry Pack consists of natural enzymes, yeasts, probiotics, Omega-3’s, and mannanoligosaccharides (MOS) that work in synergy with each other to provide the most efficient and cost effective way to feed your chickens and provide you with a very wholesome and nutritious feed. The IFA Poultry Pack focuses on gut health and the essential need for a proper start in a baby chick’s life. By promoting and maintaining good intestinal health and proper nutrition throughout the life of the chicken, we can achieve optimal performance. Our goal is for your flock to have more productive longevity, increased immunity, and greater feed efficiency in each and every chicken.

The IFA Poultry Pack provides you with the following benefits to performance and profitability:

  • Better gut health
  • Better shell quality
  • Improved feed efficiency
  • Increased DHA (Omega-3) in eggs and meat
  • Improved mineral digestion
  • Improved feathering
  • Improved air quality (reduction of ammonia in cages and coops)
  • Increased immunity
  • Improved heart health

The IFA Poultry Pack focuses on supporting animal performance by promoting healthy gut bacteria, building natural defenses and maximizing growth and efficiency. Animal performance is dependent on feed performance. This means getting the most from your feed is vital for the success of your flock.

All-Natural Feeds

On another note, with the concerns that the industry has with the use of antimicrobials and the build-up of resistance to these antibiotics, IFA now has removed Amprolium from our chick starter formula. With this new change in our chick starter formula, IFA now has a complete poultry line of All-Natural feeds including chick starter, pullet developer and layer formulas – all in a crumble form.

Ninety-five years have passed since the formation of this cooperative. Today, we still strive to help our customers get the most out of their eggs and to benefit individuals, families, and the local community. Most of all, IFA wants to fulfill its promise of “Helping you grow the things you love.” Omelets, anyone?

Written by Dennis Christensen, M.S., P.A.S., and originally published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 84, no. 2) Summer 2018. Dennis is an IFA Feed & Nutrition Advisor at Draper Feed.