The area where feed is stored can quickly turn into chaos if you’re not paying attention, especially with a flock that seems to grow daily (chicken math, anyone?).
Failure to store feed and equipment properly can be a headache for you and your flock.
Feed storage areas should have the following characteristics:
- No direct access by birds (or other pets!) – While keeping sealed bins of feed inside the coop is convenient, other equipment that’s not currently being used can quickly pile up next to the feed – making them at risk for collecting droppings and even worse, becoming a home for a feed-loving pest. Store feed separate from your flock and if that’s not feasible, think of ways to contain it all. We like this idea. Securing your feed isn’t just to keep it from your flock or pests. Some types of poultry feed can pose a serious health risk to horses.
- Dry and well ventilated – Feed must be protected from moisture. Feed bags should not be stacked directly on the floor as moisture may be absorbed in the bottom bags and the feed may mold in the bag. Any feed storage containers (bins, garbage cans, etc.) should be water and pest resistant. Also, you should completely empty and clean out the feed storage container on a regular basis. If you store feed in bags, make sure old feed is not allowed to accumulate by stacking new feed on top of the old bags.
- Well lit – It is important that you can clearly see the condition of any feed you have stored. Once the feed has left a feed mill, it may be exposed to other conditions in storage, so it is wise to be able to see clearly what the feed looks like every time you feed your flock.
- Clean – It is important to keep the feed room/storage area free of spilled feed, dust and potential sources of contamination.
- Pest free – Feed tends to attract rodents, birds and insects. Spilled feed should be cleaned up. If pest control is required, make sure any pesticides or rodenticides cannot contaminate the feed and that animals cannot access the pest control material.
People ask us often about poultry feed storage and how to properly store feed. Have you ever had the following situation happen to you? You go out to feed your chickens and notice a fine dust on the outside of the feed bag. You look closer and realize the dust is moving! Yes, you can see all those little bugs bustling about, in search of food and other little bugs to reproduce with. Yuck! Where do they come from? Is the feed safe to give to your chickens? Can they harm you?
It turns out that these little critters are grain mites (Acarus siro L). Grain mites are common and exist in all grains, but only thrive and appear when the conditions – temperature and humidity – are just right for reproduction and growth. Their ideal environment is warmer than 77 degrees F, and over 85% humidity. Hence, you would have more problems with them in the warmer months of the year. Temperature changes, condensation, and poor ventilation may produce areas with enough moisture to encourage mite infestation.
If you have infested feed you should not feed it to your animals. These mites can contaminate the feed with allergens and can also transfer nasty germs. Infestation can negatively affect palatability and when animals are fed infested products the results can be decreased intake, inflammation of the intestines, diarrhea, impaired growth and allergic reactions. The good news for you personally is that these mites do not bite humans.
To help reduce your incidence of mite outbreaks:
- Store your feed in a cool, dry place
- Use your oldest feed first
- Keep no more than a two week supply of feed on hand (especially in hot weather) to ensure freshness
- If you store your feed in a container, clean it regularly between fillings to prevent buildup of fines
- Keep your feed area clean and neat
- Air movement, such as from a fan, can help prevent outbreaks
If you do have an outbreak in your feed storage location, remove affected feed immediately and thoroughly clean the area. Pyrethrin can be applied to the area with a hand held fogging machine or aerosol spray can.