Growers concerned about genetically modified feed look for local grain

By JAMIE HENNEMAN

For the Capital Press

With the cost of bagged animal feed increasing nearly every year, some farmers are looking for options to help save money.

Some also want to avoid certain ingredients, such as genetically modified plants.

One way to do this and save money on animal feeds is to buy locally grown grains and make chicken feed, retired agriculture science teacher Fred Springer said.

"The grains we grow in our area include barley and wheat, which are excellent sources of feed and are not genetically modified like the corn from the Midwest," he said.

Springer recommended buying grains in bulk to cut costs. The bulk method not only saves dollars usually tacked on for transport and bagging, but also allows buyers to determine the nutritional content of the feed for their animals.

Springer conducted a poultry feed workshop in Valley, Wash., that was sponsored by the Colville-based Community Ag Development Center.

"The cost of barley at the Davenport Union granary was $210 a ton recently, and white wheat was $220 a ton," said Springer. "By adding a $21 bag of supplement, a farmer can easily have the grain needed to raise broilers, for instance, at a fraction of the cost."

Bagged broiler feed often runs $16 to $18 for a 50-pound bag, compared to $6 a bag using bulk grains and supplements, he said.

For layer feed, a ton of barley or wheat at $220 a ton with four bags of supplement, usually at $14 a bag, would cost $276. That compares to $530 of premixed bagged feed. While the price of bulk grain can fluctuate depending on the market, it is generally a less expensive alternative, Springer said.

Jamie Sackman, nutrition specialist at Wolfkill Feed and Fertilizer store in Othello, Wash., said one of the most important things for poultry feed is to create a mix of enzymes that allows the chickens to break down their feed and prevent digestive problems.

"Enzymes are especially important when using a ration of barley or peas," she said.

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