Poultry Feed Storage Guidelines
If you have chickens, it stands to reason that you want to take good care of them. Proper poultry feed storage is one of the ways we help keep our chickens healthy and protect our feed and feed dollars from spoilage or loss. If stored properly, most chicken feed can last for 3 to 6 months, depending on how it was processed. Once milled, the quality and nutritional content of the feed will decline, however. If feed isn’t stored properly, the shelf life will be much shorter or it can become contaminated by mold, insects, or rodents. Using spoiled or contaminated feed can make chickens sick or even kill them.
Best Place To Store Poultry Feed
The best place to store chicken feed is in a well-sealed container kept in a cool (60 degrees F or below), dry place with good ventilation and out of direct sunlight. Mold grows in warm, moist environments. Keeping the feed out of sunlight helps to prevent condensation and temperature swings throughout the day and night. Condensation and increased temperature from sunlight will increase your chances of having moldy feed. Mycotoxins, which are produced by molds, are toxic to chickens. If you must store your feed in sunlight, using an insulated container should help protect the feed from temperature swings which cause condensation.
Keep Pests Out
Mice, rats, raccoons, and squirrels are really good at finding and stealing feed, so it is important to select a rodent resistant container with a good seal. Opaque or solid-colored plastic storage bins can work, but with time, persistent, pesky rodents may be able to chew holes through the bins, so check them frequently.
Plastic or metal trash cans with tight-fitting or locking lids work well. The feed can react with metal, so it may be best to place the whole bag inside a metal can. If you have a small flock, you may be able to use five-gallon buckets. Local bakeries or donut shops may sell empty buckets and lids. (I’ve been able to purchase food-safe containers locally for very little cost, but they did require a good cleaning.) If you have a really large flock, old chest freezers make great rodent-proof containers that are also air and watertight.
While the feed is in bags, make sure to keep them stored off the ground to help prevent them from absorbing moisture. This will allow you to see if there is any on the floor around the bags, perhaps from a critter chewing through the bag or a tear in it, and help make clean up easy. I keep an old pallet on the floor for feed storage until it’s time to move the bag to a trash can or transfer the feed into buckets. I use all the feed on the pallet before getting new or make sure to pull the last bag out before adding new feed to the pallet. It’s generally a good idea to follow the first-in, first-out rule to keep feed fresh.
A final note on poultry feed storage is that some feeds do have different storage requirements or may not last as long as other feeds. Always check the label for notes or instructions regarding the specific feed you use. Following these tips will help you to keep happy, healthy chickens and save feed dollars doing it.
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