Cross Lake Residents Take on Alternative Approach

Winston
Project: Growing & Producing

IMG_2968By Anna Levin, Community Food Facilitator

Another season of raising chickens has come and gone in Cross Lake. This year, the chicken raisers tried something different and experimented with a new source of feed for their chickens.

Thanks to a grant from Manitoba Alternative Food Research Alliance (MAFRA), Food Matters was able to conduct some research on alternatives to commercial chicken feed that the raisers in Cross Lake could use. The aim was to find types of feed that were more environmentally and financially sustainable than regularly shipping up large quantities of commercial feed from Winnipeg.

After a season of talking to various producers around the province and investigating a few alternatives, FMM staff presented a few options to the Cross Lake Chicken Raisers. Still being fairly new to chicken raising, the Cross Lake raisers opted to start out cautiously and try a blended approach, combining commercial feed with wheat screenings sourced from Swan Valley Seeds. While some raisers do feed their chickens on screening alone, there’s no guarantee that they’ll cover all of the chicken’s nutritional requirements, so the raisers preferred to play is safe and still continue to use some commercial feed.

With the season over and all of the chickens slaughtered, a final count revealed some dramatic and encouraging results;

  • Chickens were healthy with no significant change in their weight at slaughter time, according to the raisers’ observations,
  • In 2013, to feed 462 chickens over the season, 6,240 Kgs of feed were purchased from Winnipeg, with the cost of feed and transportation of feed totaling $5,082.32. In 2014, to feed 450 chickens over the season, 3,500 Kgs of feed were purchased from Winnipeg, with another 700 Kgs of wheat screenings coming from Swan River, with the cost of the feed and transportation totaling $3,412.31.

This reduced dependence on commercial feed is encouraging for the chicken raisers and they are looking forward to using a blended approach again next year.

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